What to do when he/she won’t talk to you.

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Assuming you want to chat with them.

© Al Turtle 2005

Yellowstone Park, quiet time. Amazingly this is a very common occurrence, and there is something you can do.  I am particularly familiar with this as I am the kind of guy who can talk with someone about intimate subjects for 60 hours, or more, straight.  I can drive everyone crazy, and they didn't use to want to talk with me much. (Also check out my papers on Reliable Membership and on the Testicle Principle.)


Rule: People won't talk cuz they don't feel safe to.

This is a pretty simple and very reliable rule.  I suggest you learn it.  I have found it helps when I want someone to talk to me and they won't.  What is typical for me is to try to push them to talk.  I had tried thousands of ways, it seemed.  My ways never worked.  So finally I accepted the idea that "pushing doesn't work."   Of course many of my pushing techniques were very tricky and subtle.  Still my partner could instantly see, or feel through me and see my pushing.  It just didn't work.

Thus my first task is to start to help them feel safe.  I have found this is both very difficult and easy.  Making anyone feel anything is pretty near impossible.  They will feel what they chose to feel, darn them.   Still there are lots of things that trigger a sense of safety in a person.  And there are lots of things that tend to make a person feel unsafe.  Find 'em. Remove 'em.

So let's look at the situation you are in.  Someone won't talk to you.  Is it that they won't talk to anyone about anything?  Or is it that they won't talk to you, personally?  These are very different situations, and you have to ask yourself which it is. 

If they won't talk to anyone about anything, it may be quite difficult to get them to talk.  Somehow they have probably learned to be unsafe with everyone.  Could easily be that this comes directly from when they were little.  You have to work to overcome that.  It's still possible, just difficult and may take a  long time with a lot of patience.  (Of course, if this is your partner, you picked them.  And this problem is part of your personal challenge in life.)

If they won't talk with just you, I think the situation is easier.  Here's the thought.  You are doing things or have done things, probably lots of things, that tend to make them feel unsafe.  You probably don't know what these things are, but these are actions you "can change."  What you are doing does not work for you.  

Now, remember, what you do is normal for you. You have to identify what those things are that you do, and learn to replace your behaviors with something better – something that works.  Sure this can be difficult, but it is your behavior and therefore you can change it.  You have this power.  (To understand the issues of Safety, click here for many articles.)


Principle #1: Develop and Demonstrate Patience

Probably the first thing you need is to send the message that "you can wait."  That means you need to learn patience.  Now before you decide that this is hopeless, just remember that patience is a set of skills. Patience is a learned thing.  All children are born "impatient."   That's normal.  It is also normal for us to learn "patience," when we grow up.  It is kind of like learning to tie your shoes laces. But some people have not learned patience — YET.   

Patience is the habit of comfort when things don't happen at the pace you desire. Easiest way to learn patience is to spend a large amount of time in a slow situation with people who are already very patient. You can learn it by example. Ask others how they learned it.  You can also take courses in Meditation, Yoga, and many east Asia disciplines.  Practice it.

I still practice intentionally missing traffic lights.  If the light is green, I may slow a little.  If it turns yellow, I really try to stop.  And then I practice enjoying the "tiny vacation" I get while the light is red. 


Principle #2: Invite, instead of Push

This is pretty straight forward.  Learn to never ask questions.  Invite instead.  It sounds like this.  "I was wondering about something you did the other day.  If you ever figure out what was going on for you when you did that, I'd love to hear about it.  In the meantime, let's have dinner."  Notice how these are all statements with no question mark at the end of them.  Many people feel pushed by questions.  Just being asked a question often feels like an attack.  So, just don't do it. (To understand the issue of Pushing, click here.)


Principle #3: Gently Listen

Wow, is this one valuable!  I suggest you show only moderate eagerness when listening, but invite them to say anything they want.  Never interrupt.  Never add more questions.  Just listen and encourage them to say it all. Accept whatever they say.  Never, never, never argue.  Learn Mirroring so as to help train yourself to relax while listening to anything they say.


Comments

What to do when he/she won’t talk to you. — 32 Comments

  1. can u help me I meet this girl that I have liked for 3 years I did something stupid and now she hates my guts I whant to talk about it but she whont talk to me on fb or face to face and if I send her a mesig she tells the teacher and the teatcher says I cant speck to her but thirs a feeling that I need to talk I just whan to be frends please help thanks

    • Darn, Kacey, life is like that. I used to say, “Do it! You’ll either have a nice day or… learn something. Either way you benefit.”
      We all grow by making mistakes. And I think “stupid” is a word I use for something “I did” but now I am learning not to do again. Go for it.

  2. Hi Al,

    It has been a while since I wrote here. I did not want to leave this thread open-ended, so I wrote some below(hopefully not that off-topic)

    My Ex has been keeping NC since September, when I got only one reply from her, saying she is over me. After that, total silence. I guess, some people can fall out-of-love in less than 2 months, after 4 years.

    Someone told me that I should speak less and do more. Which felt right. So I enlisted for a masters at a school close to hers. This way, maybe it would be easier to get some answers.
    Unfortunately, my life kept spiralling down. By the end of August, my job contract was terminated. My focus was gone and that skill was essential to my job – so I had to go.
    In September I crashed my car, but I was ok and nobody got hurt. I bought a bike after that and for a month, things were steady, I have been doing alot of book reading, yoga, meditation and started to study for the masters admission exam.
    Last week of November, I was preparing for the exam day. That week, while I was coming home by bike, a careless driver opened his car door in front of me and I had a very bad fall. The doctors at the ER did their best, I had legs surgery , but
    my left hip was compromised.

    That’s it. If it was hard when she left, now I am trying to cope with all of the above. It is not a happy ending for my story, but I am still alive, which makes me happy.
    I wish my feelings could settle a bit, but no luck so far. I miss her so much. And…. I am so lost, I even lost my word to describe the feelings.

    I hope all you guys/girls having problems right now, to have a speedy resolve, and to your heart liking. The Turtle way.

    • Gack, Liviu. That all sounds terrible. “Never rains but it pours.” comes to mind. Please take good/better care of yourself. Anything I can do?

      • Hi Al. Your essays were enough help; more than others(closer to me) could do for me.
        I did get jumpstarted on a closer path to my true self, and I think that is the only win in this battle.

        My life buoyes have always been external. Right now I just do not know what is good for me. I await that moment in life when I make that split-second decision and move on. But it needs to flare more than a spark to get me out of my self-dug pitfall. It has happened once before, maybe it will happen again.

        My decisions were seldom rash, but felt correct. As long as I would have communicated my plan, all resistance from outside would have been diminished. I realized I gave up my spontaneus part of life to a plan making one. I did this because I wanted that girl to feel safe, and have it all. And she did! And it felt so booring and dull. Then, I turned Blind!(your first notice).
        I belive I have to return to the ways before this girl had an impact on me, and stick to my true path.

        But before I let another person in, I have to secure my social position, as I depend on a system now (more than before), for making me a healthy functional individual. Rough times ahead, and hope is all I have.

        • Glad you are moving along. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Your piece reminded me of the first stanzas of one of my favorite poems.

          In a Dark Time
          BY THEODORE ROETHKE
          In a dark time, the eye begins to see,
          I meet my shadow in the deepening shade;
          I hear my echo in the echoing wood—
          A lord of nature weeping to a tree.
          I live between the heron and the wren,
          Beasts of the hill and serpents of the den.

          What’s madness but nobility of soul
          At odds with circumstance? The day’s on fire!
          I know the purity of pure despair,
          My shadow pinned against a sweating wall.
          That place among the rocks—is it a cave,
          Or winding path? The edge is what I have.

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