Dismissiveness, Culture or Personality?

Dismissiveness: “A form of denial, characterized by either passively showing indifference or disregard, or actively dismissing or rejecting ideas or evidence” (yourdictionay.com).

We all know of people who are in your family or workplace, who seem to lack interest in your thoughts and who, without consideration just shut you down. 

When this happens, you very likely feel overpowered and put aside as not important and even shamed or ridiculed. The worst is when you start thinking that you deserve to be put in your place and that the other person knows best. 

Dismissive behaviours are disrespectful! 

In some families, all do it, they do not allow others to express themselves. Comments such as “it could be worse, others have this too, you should be grateful for what you have, there are more important things to be upset about”, are the milder examples. Straight out denying how you feel and being told that you are wrong are stronger examples (Note that there are similarities with gaslighting). Gaslighting, a manipulative tool causing harm

There is no acknowledgment and validation. In some families listening and showing empathy is perceived as encouraging others to dwell on stuff and that, of course, is a weakness. 

In these cases, it is systemic and often so ingrained that family members might not even be aware of it. 

The consequences of these behaviours are that people do not disclose much. There are entire families “functioning” like this. True feelings are hidden and people deny even having these. 

Our family of origin however, is not our only influence. School, friends, movies, books , provide information and insights to help us to question whether our families were that healthy. 

When contemplating different ways to interact and observing this in others, change happens in those who care about how they treat others. 

When this happens, the opportunity to break the cycle has arrived. 

Some, however, prefer to be oblivious to this, holding on to the family pattern of dismissing others. So, now culture and upbringing is no longer an excuse. It is personality and it is resistant to change.  

Dismissive comments are based on judgmental attitudes, entitlement and superiority. 

When on the receiving end, although nearly impossible, try to stay calm and point out that you do not agree. Leave it at that. Remove yourself and engage in any activity that make you feel better about yourself. I suggest running, walking, lifting weights and if you must, vacuum, gardening or any other “chore”. As long as it is anything of which you can state later on….I used my energy for something useful. “Let’s not dwell on contemplating how to change people who don’t want to ;).

Find people with whom you can have the relationship you want and be self aware of your behaviours toward others. Insight in your own and other’s behaviour, leads to positive change and help you to grow and become a better version of yourself. 

Plant a seed….


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