How To Ignore Someone: Ways To Keep From Engaging Conflict

You often hear the advice that you should NOT avoid conflict and that it will make a disagreement worse. However, that advice is only good 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.


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But there are other times when a person tries to bait you into a conflict, whether at work or in public, and you simply do not need to engage them. Of course, it can be hard to ignore someone. Here's how to ignore someone so that you can avoid unnecessary and unproductive conflicts.

Unwanted public encounters

Most people experience an unpleasant encounter in public at some point. It could be a person you're not interested in or don't know flirting with you. Or it could be an angry person trying to start a fight. Or maybe it's just a bully trying to humiliate you. In these cases, you can try a few tips to ignore the person.

  • Avoid eye contact. In many cases if you are not making eye contact with someone, they perceive this as you not acknowledging their statements. For the unwanted flirt, this simple step may be all it takes to end the encounter.
  • Walk away quickly. Another option, if you can, is to walk away from the person. If you look like you have somewhere else to go, they may leave you alone.
  • Don't be afraid to look unpleasant. The human face is expressive in many ways. You don't have to smile and look pleasant all the time, especially not when you want to avoid someone. Frowning, keeping a straight or blank face, or just looking like you are having a really bad day can help keep someone back.

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How to ignore someone at work

One of the most important aspects of job contentment is getting along with the people you work with. Unfortunately, there is sometimes one particular person you simply can't enjoy being around at an otherwise enjoyable job. When a co-worker is making your workday miserable, try these tips for ignoring them without jeopardizing your work.


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  • Focus on your own reaction. You can't control what the other person does. But you can control how you respond to it. Make sure you aren't acting in ways that escalate the conflict. Using a relaxation method like listening to music with headphones or meditating during your lunch break can help you feel less stressed and respond in a reasonable manner to someone annoying.
  • Be cooperative when you have to. If the person bothering you is part of your project team, you may not be able to avoid talking to them entirely. But you can avoid being around them more than you have to. Notice their break room, kitchen, and restroom habits, and avoid going to those places at the same times as them. And learn to say no if they invite you somewhere after work.
  • Set up your workspace to avoid intruders. Sometimes ignoring someone at work is about needing to stay productive against the pull of someone who wants to use up your time. If your office allows you to modify or decorate your workspace, find ways to block your line of sight to the intruding person. Use headphones to block them out. Or just keep yourself looking busy when they are around.

Learning appropriate ways to deal with conflict can be difficult. You can get help figuring out the best ways to respond to stressful situations by practicing with a professional therapist.


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