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How to Ignore People & Avoid Getting Into a Conversation with Them

Sometimes we must deal with difficult people who never fail to ruin your day. Learn how to ignore people like this and keep your mood intact.

How to Ignore People

Understanding how to ignore people ready to rain on your day if they take the form of a boss, co-worker, classmate, or even a family member, means you must deal with them at some point. Social decorum teaches us to be civil or formal in interacting with them… so running the other way at first sight isn’t an option.

How to ignore people who might ruin your day

Luckily, there are effective ways to ignore *or minimize* the difficult people in your life. With these mild antisocial tactics, you can cleverly avoid prolonged interaction with them.

#1 Block them on social media. If they’re on your social media, remove their visual presence by blocking them. Or go a step further and remove them from your contacts list. It will send an obvious message that you don’t want any interaction, real world or virtual. [Read: Social media and relationships: The good, the bad, the ugly]

#2 Change your visibility status in social media. Another way to prevent unwanted people from starting an online conversation is to change your visibility status. Then you appear permanently offline.

Most social media sites and instant messaging apps have such a feature if you don’t want to be in an awkward situation. No more explaining about why they were blocked from your contacts list.

#3 Use the occasional “middle man” to communicate with them. Are you in a situation where communication is a must but you’re so compelled to avoid the person you need to talk to? Use a messenger to convey what you want! Ask a close friend or a co-worker who owes you a favor to deliver the message. Spare yourself the stress and effort of dealing with the person. [Read: Clever ways to get out of an annoying conversation]

#4 Walk quickly away from them. If you happen to spot the person you hate in the vicinity and they haven’t spotted you yet, grab the opportunity to flee the immediate area. Use the crowd around you as a convenient hiding place so that the person won’t get the chance to notice you.

#5 Wear headphones. Big headphones with accompanying music will not only keep you focused and entertained while working, they can also serve as a big “do not disturb” sign to people who may otherwise attempt to approach you. If you want to know how to ignore people, remember that big headphones are more effective since those tiny ear buds won’t be noticeable from a few feet away.

#6 Avoid eye contact with them. Wilderness survival teaches us that avoiding eye contact will save you from a potential attack in case a wild animal is encountered. The same principle also applies to people you don’t want to deal with in any way. Making eye contact is a form of acknowledgement which will invite further conversation. So, if you want to prevent social interaction from even happening, avoid eye contact at all costs.

#7 Act like you’re in a hurry when you’re about to pass them. What do you usually do when you meet a person in a hurry? In such situations, we usually step aside and leave them be. With that thought, act like you’re in a hurry to get somewhere in case you’re about to encounter an annoying person who’s likely to start up a conversation. [Read: All the Clever ways to get out of an annoying conversation]

#8 Make yourself appear busy. Acting busy is a good way to wiggle out of a conversation started by a person you badly want to ignore. You can do this by appearing distracted while they’re talking, switching from giving the person attention and back to focusing on your work, and giving abrupt responses.

If the person has a sense of propriety, they will feel that they’re interrupting and intruding on your work time and will eventually leave you alone.

#9 Use the “I need to make a quick call” tactic. This is effective when you’re wondering how to ignore people, or if you find yourself unable to dodge them and get trapped in an uncomfortable conversation. Engage the person for a little bit, then whip out your exit ticket excuse. You badly need to make an urgent call related to a family emergency or another similar ruse. Watch the magic unfold as the person apologetically lets you go for you to make your sweet escape. [Read: How to recognize emotionally unstable people for less drama in your life]

#10 Act like you’re upset or in a bad mood when they’re in close proximity. If the person you’re trying to ignore is known to be persistent and overbearing, pretend that you’re upset or in a bad mood. It will probably be the best way to ignore them.

People usually back off from visibly upset people to avoid making the situation worse. If they attempt to approach you looking like you’re about to burst with emotion, they will reconsider the attempt and leave you alone.

#11 Keep your responses short in conversations. If you want a tip that would provide long-term benefits, give out terse responses every time you have a conversation with the unwanted person. It will give them the idea that you are a boring conversation partner. After a few encounters, they will learn not to speak to you again. [Read: 8 things you do that makes you boring and annoying around people]

#12 Be uncomfortably formal and professional with them. This tactic on how to ignore people works the same way as the previous. By deliberately being formal or professional with the person you’re avoiding, you create a sort of social distance that discourages the person from becoming chummy with you.

By keeping things formal and professional, you send a message that you’re not interested in becoming friendly with the person. Eventually, they will either limit your interactions strictly to business topics, or stop approaching you altogether.

#13 Avoid the places they usually hang out in your area. Logic tells us that to avoid encountering undesirables, avoid the places they usually frequent. This involves knowing where the person usually hangs out to socialize and never setting your foot in those places to prevent falling prey to their inanities.

#14 Avoid taking their usual route to avoid bumping into them. What’s worse than encountering an unwanted person in a place of relaxation? Well, suffering their company on your commute. Persistent ones even tag along and constantly interrupt your morning daydream with an annoying conversation.

To avoid getting caught in this trap, fish out their usual route. Next, avoid it to prevent getting your morning commute getting ambushed. [Read: 10 ways to calmly deal with difficult people]

#15 Use other friends or co-workers. Ignoring a person sometimes requires the assistance of your friends or sympathetic co-workers. To work, you must be in close proximity to a “rescue posse.” Easily fall back into the group in case you encounter the person you want to ignore.

If the person starts engaging you, quickly divert your attention and engage your back-up. This way, the person’s attention gets diffused into the crowd. Then, easily slip away once your opponent is distracted.

[Read: How to set boundaries with difficult people]

There will always be annoying people in your life that you’ll want to learn how to ignore. While completely shutting them out isn’t an option, there are clever tactics to minimize interaction with them without seeming rude.

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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...
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