“Just Ignore It” – Helpful or Harmful?

“Just ignore it.” – classic advice given to someone who has been the target of a bully or something problematic.

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit revved up after seeing this advice given offhand by a well-intentioned person to a friend of mine who experienced a hate incident this week.

While this tactic may have its uses in certain scenarios, be EVER so careful about telling someone to “ignore it.”

What’s the problem?

The issue is that when you tell them to ignore something bad that has happened to them, it implies the assumption that they have the leisure to do so.

Every single day, people who are othered (e.g. racialized, disabled, Queer, trans, neurodivergent, religiously non-Christian, intersectional, etc.) across corporate North America and beyond deal with very real threats to their safety and wellbeing – at work and in their personal lives. Subtle AND overt acts of exclusion happen to othered people regularly, and have real and lasting impacts.

This means that folks who are othered KNOW that they do not have the leisure to simply ignore impacts and risks to their safety and wellbeing.

A better option

If someone has been brave enough to share with you that something bad happened, please listen without feeling the need to emotionally manage them.

Honour the trust and risk they’re taking.

A reflective question: how have you been presenting?

If someone you know who is othered has been courageous enough to share with you something negative that has happened to them, and you think what they’re sharing is not a big deal..

..you may want to ask yourself how you are presenting yourself to this person.

Have you been behaving like a friend? Do you call yourself an ally?

If someone who is othered shares something with you, they are taking the risk of being betrayed by a response from you that is anything other than truly empathetic or supportive.

And they’re taking this risk because they don’t have the leisure of defining the issue as “no big deal.”

Something to consider the next time you may catch yourself having the thought that concerns raised by an othered person are “no big deal.”

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for your growth mindset and thoughtfulness. We need more thoughtful people like you in this world.

You can find other leadership and growth mindset content over here. If you prefer spiritual development topics, those are over here. And if writing craft is your thing, those posts are here.

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