Enacting the Code of Silence: A Lesson from Mrs. Phaedra Parks
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article inspired by Tichina Arnold that discussed the importance of the “nice-nasty.” Today’s article shares a similar format, but it is an entirely different, yet just as useful, lesson. This week I was inspired by none other than RHOA’s Phaedra Parks.
For those of you who don’t watch the Real Housewives of Atlanta (RHOA), then you may be unaware of the drama that has befallen Mrs. Parks’ household. Recently, Phaedra’s husband, Apollo Nida, was sentenced to eight years in prison for mail, wire, and bank fraud. Essentially, he was using other people’s identities to open accounts and gain access to funds. While much of the drama on these types of shows may be manufactured, this, right here, is the real deal. Not only does Phaedra have to lose her husband during the time, but the couple also has two little boys, both under the age of three.
Throughout the show the couple has dealt with many issues, mainly Apollo’s inappropriate dealings with another female cast member who just happens to be a former beauty queen, Miss USA to be exact, as well as his own professed views on cheating in a marriage. These tidbits made many of the viewers, as well as some of the other cast members, question the strength of their marriage. This recent charge, however, is starting to look like the proverbial nail in the coffin, and Phaedra just appears to be over it. (Or is she?) For those who think that she is, here’s the evidence to suggest that.
First, she hasn’t made any statements confirming their solidarity as a couple to the media. (Not that she has to, but that’s generally how it goes once your spouse gets into legal trouble, especially if you are a public figure, but whatever.) Secondly, she was noticeably absent from Apollo’s sentencing, instead choosing to party with her other superstar friends on a girl’s trip to Mexico. Ouch! Finally, she gave no response to Apollo’s media rant concerning her absence. Let’s take a moment, here, to discuss the rant.
When Phaedra pulled a no-show at his sentencing, Apollo referenced it in the media twice. The first time was more cryptic, as he posed a question on social media, asking who was going to “ride” with him, which is a slang term for being there for someone; it’s implied that the person who needs a “rider” is in some form of trouble and needs support and/or assistance.
The second message, however, was very direct, in which he expresses his disappointment with his wife concerning her absence, adding that he doesn’t believe that the marriage will last through the time served. Since his words were very inflammatory, all eyes (and ears) were on Mrs. Parks, Attorney at Law, to catch her counter move. Her next moves detail the major points to be made within this article.
Though that recap of Apollo’s story was interesting, it isn’t the focus of this article; it was merely to provide context. The focus, conversely, in on what I like to refer to as “The Code of Silence.” This code operates on two basic tenets:
1.) One cannot argue with one’s self.
2.) Silence cannot be misquoted.
This code is one in which Mrs. Parks used skillfully in today’s lesson and is also one that is essential to master in life. While Apollo was busy bumping his gums to the media, Phaedra maintained space and silence. People can assume that she’s ready for a divorce, which would explain her actions, but there is no definite footage to link to her. In short, we’re all just left to speculate.
This relates to tenet #2: Silence cannot be misquoted. Though Apollo is airing their dirty laundry to anyone who will listen, no one has a firm grip on Phaedra’s intentions because she has remained silent. Think of the Miranda Rights, where they say, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you.” Phaedra, an accomplished attorney, knows that this rule also applies to the media or the grapevine, in general, and has opted to, instead, utilize the Code of Silence.
This is important in the office and in most relationships because angry or hurt people will make statements to you to get you to respond in like manner. When you enact the code, then they are left with themselves and cannot use you as a dumping ground for their emotions. Why…because of tenet #1: One cannot argue with one’s self. In other words, if you maintain silence, then they can’t continue the argument, at least not with you.
This Code of Silence is especially effective against an abrasive individual because those types love to argue. Once they realize that you don’t want a fight, they will often attempt to bait you into an argument with inflammatory language, designed to generate an argumentative response. That’s when you hit them with the code. It’s not the silent treatment, which is a different tactic, one that we may discuss later. The Code of Silence doesn’t mean that you will be silent forever. It does, however, mean that you refuse to discuss the matter until the environment has become non-toxic.
Once the other person realizes that they can no longer act a fool to generate a response from you, then s/he changes his/her method of communication. It takes time and diligence, but it is a very effective practice. Unfortunately, for Mr. Nida, he will have more than enough time to work on such communication skills. As for you and I, we should take a lesson from Mrs. Parks’ play book and learn to effectively enact the Code of Silence.