Feeling Dismissed

Even with the best intentions, we are not always aware of how others interpret what we say or do. In last Tuesday's note, I wrote about how a simple question made an employee feel that a co-worker was dismissing them.

Since then, I've been interested in uncovering what other responses may inadvertently elicit a similar feeling. Through my interactions over the week, I've compiled a list.

  1. Acknowledgment of what was said followed by "but..."
  2. Abruptly moving the conversation to a new topic
  3. Revisiting an earlier point without acknowledging the one just stated
  4. Sighing or laughing in response to an idea or question
  5. Telling someone they are wrong without explanation
  6. Saying "don't worry" when someone is expressing worry
  7. Explaining how the "new" idea has been done before and didn't work out 
  8. Belittling impact with phrases like "oh, that's not a big deal" when someone is stating concern
  9. Jumping to feedback when someone asks to talk through a tense situation
  10. Suggesting a solution without digging into the problem first

This list does not mean that we should walk on eggshells whenever we communicate with others. For me, it's simply about awareness. When I have a better idea of how I might come off, I can more proactively share context and ask questions to ensure what I'm saying is not misinterpreted.

When someone feels dismissed, they eventually feel afraid or insignificant. When someone feels this way, they either become scared to share their ideas or don't think anyone wants to hear them, so they stop providing input. When they shut down in this way, they get by on taking orders. When this happens, their heart isn't it, and that's the beginning of the end.