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Home / Articles / Columnists / Life 101 /  If You Hide, Then "SPEAK"
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Thursday, February 2,2012

If You Hide, Then "SPEAK"

By Cary Bayer  
Hide and Seek is one of the earliest games we learned as infants. We delighted in trying to find our mother, brother, or sister. So universal is this game, that even cats and dogs love to play it with us. As good as the game of Hide and Seek is to play with those in your life is exactly how bad the game of “Hide and No Speak” is to play with those in your life.

Hide and No Speak is the name I’ve given to the unconscious communication pattern adopted by so many people when they feel ashamed or guilty about something they said, didn’t say, did, or didn’t do, and go into a communication hideout. My thenmassage therapist—and the eight prospective massage therapists whom I called and wrote about in the previous chapter--who didn’t respond to my phone calls promptly--didn’t speak in time, and then hid once they knew they were wrong. I’ll give you another example from my personal life.

My wife and I had a wonderful relationship with a talented gardener who tended our flowers with tender loving care. When Spring had sprung, and she hadn’t come by to nurture our garden in its time of annual rebirth, as she always did in the past, we were quite surprised. So we called her to find out why, and to set up a time for her to do just that. We got her voicemail, so we left a loving message to that effect. We didn’t hear back from her that night, as we normally would have. We didn’t hear back from her the following workday or night, for that matter. And ditto for the day after, the day after that, and the day after that. Somewhere in the middle of that period of silence, we called once again, got voicemail once again, and left a message inquiring if she was okay, because it wasn’t like her to ignore our calls. That one, too, was met with silence.

Perplexed, we called our friend who had recommended this gardener in the first place. That’s when we learned that this young woman, who was great at bringing flowers to life, was a few months away from bringing a child to life. Her advancing pregnancy was keeping her from doing the hard physical labor of planting, weeding,

and nurturing that gardening requires. Fair enough. But why didn’t she simply tell us?

That’s where Hide and No Speak enters the discussion. Our gardener was still doing some gardening, but not as much, due to the strain it was taking on her condition. She had to choose which clients she would continue to work for, and which ones she would drop. We have a lovely garden, but it’s relatively small next to some of the massive ones that she was working on. So she chose by size, and ours fell off her routine. But—and here’s the amazing Hide and No Speak part—she never communicated that to us. She simply stopped working for us, and stopped returning our calls. Silence.

Feeling guilty or ashamed—I can’t say with certainty because she still hasn’t communicated with us for nine months and counting (no pun intended), she hid and didn’t speak. Each day that she didn’t return our call, and each time we called and she didn’t return that call either, just added to the guilt and shame.

And so she hid some more and went into silence some more.

The mature way around Hide and No Speak, of course, is to come out of hiding and start speaking. It takes courage to do so. It takes courage to own up to previous hiding and to apologize for it. Most people who are victimized by Hide and No Speak are all too willing to forgive such behavior if given the chance. But most people who engage in Hide and No Speak never own up, and never surface. Instead, they’re forced to write off the relationship, whether it’s a friendship or one of the business variety.

Scan the Rolodex of your relationships—or contacts list of your smart phone—nd see if there are people in your personal or professional life who you are in Hide and No Speak mode with. See if you’d be willing to step up and own your incommunicado behavior. If you do, you’ll be set free of untold guilt and shame, and you’ll feel very relieved. You may even re-gain a friendship or client to boot.


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