The feeling of being ignored is a painful one.
When ignored by someone they love or care for, people feel inadequate. They lose themselves in doubt, sadness, and a plummeting sense of self-worth.
The act of ignoring someone is seldom discussed as a psychological weapon, though it is a mighty powerful one. It is powerful because it requires minimal action from its user, and uses the mind of their victim to damage itself in Kamikaze fashion.
This article does not advocate for you to ignore every person whom you have a disagreement with. The act of ignoring another individual should only be used when they fail to admit their wrongs, act to mend your relationship, and offer their opinions in a peaceful manner.
Ignoring someone works best when their own actions can be used against themselves without you needing to do anything. You should always strive to work things out with those you argue with. Don’t allow there to be many loose ends and burnt bridges in life. With that being said, here’s why ignoring someone is a powerful tool, when that someone just can’t seem to let go of pride.
Psychology of Ignoring Someone: Buttons and Levers
You’ve likely witnessed a child become obsessed with pressing elevator buttons in your time. This tendency in children seems to stem from a desire to make an impact on the world around them. It seems to be an intrinsic human need to make a mark on your environment, and affect – in some form – those you’re surrounded by.
When we ask questions and partake in conversation, we serve to influence people’s social behavior and act to shape their actions to better interlink with our own. We feel validated when people answer our questions, respond to our text messages, and reach out when we are down. In those cases, our actions were successful in birthing responses from those whose levers we pulled and buttons we pressed.
The act of being acknowledged by others with a response, is akin to a child hearing a satisfying ‘ding’ when they press the, “Next Stop,” button on a bus. We feel like we belong in a world where we have the power to make our mark. We feel real, and we feel as if we’re an attention-worthy part of another person’s life.
The concept of silence in an attempt to be used as a weapon, centers on removing that satisfying ding after people press your buttons and pull your levers. Silence does not defend you from people’s verbal or psychological attacks, but it does well to communicate that their attacks do little to no damage.
When Someone Wants to Hurt You: Nullifying Their Attempts
The intrinsic need to make an impact on someone else, makes silence a golden weapon in times of psychological warfare. The act of ghosting/ignoring people who seek to bring you pain will entice them to doubt how much impact they’re having on you with their words and actions. Ignoring people reduces the measurable damage of their attacks to zero. It gives a sense of you winning the bout as silence conveys perfect confidence in all you’ve said prior to their rebuttal. It sends the message of you having nothing more left to say, which makes you seem absolutely confident in the last message that you’ve sent.
You’ll cause doubt to build in the mind of those whom you ignore. The more they try to stab at you with attempts to garner a response, the more damage they’ll be doing to their own psyche. They will begin to feel their attempts to not be making any impact. No matter how they cut it, they wouldn’t be able to prove their attacks to be effective at causing you pain without your response.
Could their attacks been so weak that you simply brushed them off?
Did their rage filled dialogue not bother you enough to warrant a desire for payback on your part?
Questions such as the ones above will linger behind their celebrations for getting the last word in. Those questions will then grow from simply lingering in the background to being the focal point of their infatuation with your lack of response.
With each new attempt of theirs to hurt you, they discard the hope they had for their previous attempts to bring you pain. With each ignored iteration of their attacks on you, they grow weaker, and they know it. Their behavior begins to look bad, and rather desperate. When there isn’t a recipient for their attempts, the things they write, say, and do in order to shine a light on you serves to twirl that lamp around and shine it right back at them.
Picture a person stabbing and slashing air with a knife in the middle of the street. Without any context, you would automatically think this person to be out of their mind. The same effect occurs when you are silent in response to the verbal attacks of others. You will make them seem upset, angry, and a little crazy. They will begin to doubt the effect their words have on you and the effect their actions have on the world at large.
Be careful, as silence can be a powerful contributor to an individual’s behavior becoming increasingly violent. Some people will go out of their way to witness an effect to the actions that they commit. Ensure the people you ignore aren’t capable of allowing their dark dialogue to motivate darker actions. Be prepared and always consider your own safety first. Silence should be used when you know you are not in any physical danger from the other party.
Entrapping Them to Label Themselves As Unimportant
Your time’s value is defined by what you don’t spend it on.
If you’ve ever been granted time with an important individual in the corporate realm, you’ve likely felt the pressure to not waste too much of it. As you made your way through the meeting’s agenda for instance, you may have noticed how strict those important individuals are with what they spend their time on.
They’re often cutthroat about sticking to the meeting schedule. They are always closing discussions and continually moving the dialogue forward. They seem to have little patience for repetitive ideas and monotonous dialogue. They speak directly whilst setting unproductive sentiments aside.
If these important individuals were to spend too much time on futile things which are under their pay grade, then they would be taking bandwidth away from what needs focusing on. They wouldn’t differentiate themselves from those who are paid less to worry about the less important things and would seem unworthy of the position they were placed in.
By ignoring someone who chooses to spend time on you, you serve to differentiate your time from theirs in terms of its value. You’d be deemed worthy of their time, while they wouldn’t be deserving of yours in the form of a reply. You’d introduce an imbalance to the market value of your respective focuses.
The bottom line is we spend time on what we deem to be important.
In addition to the individual you ignore receiving the message that you don’t deem them to be important enough to spend time on, they’d also be the last one to extend a communication branch.
They’d in turn be last in labeling you to be important enough to spend their own time on, and you’d be first in labeling them not worthy of your time.
That victory over your time’s worthiness and the difference in how important you respectively view one another will be something that can’t be taken away. It will remain on record until you respond. You were first to label your time more important than theirs, until you choose to equalize your time’s value with theirs in the form of a reply.
Silence has a perk which not many psychological weapons provide. This perk is the lack of incrimination. You cannot be held accountable for causing pain to another person by remaining silent in response to their attacks. People don’t get in trouble for ignoring others’ malicious deeds.
Silence from your end, only has the capacity to get you in trouble when you use it explicitly to cause pain to innocent people. Remember thereby, that silence as a psychological warfare tool is most effective when the actions of another warrant its use. Ensure that if an investigation is conducted into the objective series of events, your silence was not the first move made. Label a discreet malicious action someone else conducts as warranting silence from your end prior to implementing the strategy to ignore.
There are those who react to others’ jabs, pokes, and stabs, only to incriminate themselves in the process. In that regard, silence is a perfect tool when you use it well. It will drive your opponent into a dark psychological space in which they feel inadequate compared to you. You will rise above – all without incriminating yourself – and will move on with your life, while feelings of inadequacy and regret ferment in the mind of those who sought to inflict pain.