How To Ignore Someone: Ways To Keep From Engaging Conflict
By: Darby Faubion
Updated January 27, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Michelle Lind
You often hear the advice that you should not avoid conflict, and that it will make a disagreement worse in the long run. However, that advice is best applied if the person you are experiencing conflict with is important to your personal life or plays a major role in another aspect of your life. In those cases, yes, you need to find a way to resolve your conflict, and ignoring it is not going to help.
While there are times when avoiding a person altogether may be the best way to avoid conflict, avoidance is not always an option. Learning when to ignore someone and when/how to engage in healthy conflict are essential parts of communication.
What Are Good Reasons To Ignore Someone?
Simply ignoring someone because you are not in the mood to talk is not mature behavior. However, there are times when ignoring someone may be the only way to avoid engaging in conflict or making an existing situation potentially damaging. If any of the following occur, if it's possible, ignore the person.
- If someone is purposely trying to annoy you, engaging them may lead to the situation getting out of hand. If you choose to ignore their behavior, most people become bored and leave you alone. If they continue to pester you, try seeking out a different space to separate yourself from them.
- Do not engage someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol if they are being pushy, disrespectful, or aggressive. Someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol will have an altered state of mind, and may not be willing or fully able to listen to what you have to say. It is very easy for these situations to escalate into an altercation that could be emotionally or physically harmful.
- Your time should never be spent on people who disregard your feelings. If someone disrespects you or talks negatively to or about you, stay away from them. Of course, take time to assess other perspectives as well, if possible – what was the discussion about? In what tone was it said? Were their words truly disrespectful toward you or was the intent constructive criticism? Keep these things in mind, but certainly someone who utterly disregards you does not have your best interests in mind.
- Any person who is known to be violent toward others should be avoided. Risking your safety to communicate with someone who is likely to instigate a conflict can have dangerous consequences.
Ways To Ignore Someone And Avoid Engaging In Conflict
While there are times when avoiding someone is easy, other times may be difficult. If you go to school or church or work with someone whom you prefer not to talk to, ignoring them might be a little harder than avoiding someone whom you rarely see. Some of the following tips are ways that you may be able to ignore someone and prevent conflict.
- Stay away. Avoid situations in which you know that the other person is going to be present. If you work with the person, it may be difficult to avoid them altogether, but when possible, keep your distance and try not to engage them.
- Avoid eye contact. This goes against what most people are taught regarding communication. However, when it comes to avoiding conflict, it is necessary. When you make eye contact with someone, they will know that you are aware of their presence. The person may choose to try to engage you in conversation, which could turn problematic. Avoiding eye contact may make the other person think that you haven't noticed them, and they may leave without attempting to talk to you.
- Give the appearance of being busy. If you need to use your phone, computer, or begin talking to someone else, the other person may think you don't have time to speak with them.
- Block the other person on your phone and any social media accounts. While being ignored may ignite the fire of frustration for some, it may at least buy you some time to gather your thoughts and consider how to address the conflict. Anything constructivethat you can do to remove the person's presence from your life will help create a more peaceful atmosphere for you while you figure things out.
When There Is Conflict InThe Workplace
It can be very frustrating to feel conflict at work, particularly when it impacts your ability to complete tasks. Ideally, finding a resolution to the conflict would be in the best interest of everyone involved. However, when conflict is not quickly resolved, there are some measures to help reduce its stressful effects while at work. For example:
- Be cooperative when you can. Even when you feel as though you are right, it's not always necessary to have everyone else acknowledge that. It's okay to be cooperative and respectful without giving in to the demands of someone who is being obstinate. In fact, your employer and other co-workers will probably appreciate your attitude, particularly if the person of concern is known for being troublesome.
- Create a workspace that is conducive to productivity. Although you may make friends at work, your main priority is to be productive and get a job done. If possible, set your workspace up in a manner that provides you with as much privacy as possible. Try to avoid engaging in communication with anyone who may distract you or add to the conflict. This will also help to keep your mind off of the conflict, and generate a more peaceful mindset that will be better able to appropriately deal with said conflict when needed.
- Know when it's time to call in reinforcements. By "reinforcements," we don't mean the gossiping co-workers who are quick to add fuel to the fire. Gossip may feel initially validating, but it generally serves to overall worsen attitudes and situations as nothing is being properly dealt with. When a conflict feels overwhelming, or if you feel it may get out of hand, talk to your supervisor. Be honest about the situation and ask for their advice. Don't be afraid to reach out to those in management. Employers would prefer potentially problematic situations to be resolved before they get out of hand. Your transparency about these types of issues reflects honesty and integrity that your employer should, without question, appreciate.
You may find solace talking to a friend or loved one who is neutral and non-biased regarding the situation. If you are struggling with conflict and want to learn ways to develop strong communication skills, but are not ready to meet someone face-to-face, online counseling is a great option. Online therapy has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy, with 94% of users saying that they prefer it to seeing a licensed therapist in person. In 2019, 40.2 million adults sought out and received mental health services, a notable increase of 13 million compared to data collected in 2002.
Online counseling services, such as those provided by BetterHelp, have helped to make that possible. Remote therapy allows individuals to talk with qualified, licensed mental health professionals when and where it is most convenient, and often at a cheaper price. It’s accessible to those even in remote or rural locations who normally would have a difficult time finding and obtaining mental healthcare. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people seeking helpwith managing conflict and communication.
"Brian has helped me immensely in the 5 months since I joined BetterHelp. I feel completely comfortable with him and appreciate that he also feels comfortable sharing his honest thoughts with me. I have noticed a change in my attitude, confidence, and communication skills as a result of our sessions. I feel like he is constantly giving me the tools I need to improve my overall wellbeing and personal contentment.
"We went into couples counseling not knowing what to expect but hoping for the best. While it took a few sessions to get acclimated to the experience we soon found that Heather made us feel at ease about the process and helped us dive into some of the things we were struggling with. Over several weeks my boyfriend and I have been invested in this process and following Heather's advice as well as reflecting on her insights. We are communicating so much better and have been able to avoid frequent, trivial arguments and spend more time connecting, listening, and working through conflicts. I highly recommend Heather to other couples who may be working through similar issues.”
When faced with a challenging situation, such as conflict with another person, it can often feel overwhelming. When you are dealing with conflict, knowing when to ignore someone and avoid conflict or when to address it directly isn't always easy. With the right tools, learning effective communication and conflict resolution skills is within reach.
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