Understanding Dismissive Behavior

Last Update on January 18, 2024 : Published on January 18, 2024

Do you know someone who habitually belittles others and disregards their thoughts and feelings?  If so, that individual is following dismissive behavior. Where they are always right, and the other person is always wrong.

The emotions and opinions of others do not matter to them. Also, there is negligence toward the values others follow, making them think negatively about themselves. 

This behavior can be shown in different ways. For instance, it can be neglecting individuals when they greet, overlooking their work, or rolling their eyes dismissively when someone doesn’t agree with what the person says. 

The above explanation of dismissive behavior might confuse some as most people on some level might relate to things. Hence, to clear the air, this article delves into more details about dismissive behavior, its examples, characteristics,  causes, and how to cope with a dismissive person.

What is dismissive behavior?

It is a disruption in interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being caused by disregarding the thoughts and feelings of other people, criticizing them, always speaking negatively, and treating them badly.

Portrayal of such behavior always has negative consequences, but before one realizes it, it is too late because people often confuse arrogance with confidence. In arrogance, people are mostly self-centered and low on self-confidence. This is why they shout and put others down.

Confident people don’t need to undermine the efforts of others to show up. They don’t need to make mistakes to prove themselves right as they are confident.

Characteristics of a Dismissive Person

  • Self-Reliance: They see depending on others as a weakness and feel proud to say they are self-dependent.
  • Have issues expressing their weaknesses: These individuals have difficulty showing their weaknesses or asking for help. 
  • Fear of Intimacy: emotional intimacy is what they fear, and they will go to any lengths to avoid it.
  • High Emotional Walls: they make breaching their emotional wall or getting into their personal space difficult

Examples of Dismissive Behavior

1. Interrupting Others:

Dismissive individuals never let others complete their sentences or say what they want to say. They usually cut others when speaking, signaling what they have to say is more important. 

2. Avoiding Eye Contact:

Another example of dismissive behavior is avoiding eye contact. People avoid making eye contact when they want to ignore someone without saying a word. 

3. Ignoring Concerns of Other Persons:

A dismissive person uses statements like it is not a big deal, you are overreacting, etc., to ignore the worries or concerns others share. 

4. Sarcastic Remarks:

An individual portraying dismissive behavior uses sarcasm to downplay the feelings and opinions of others. This makes them feel unworthy and foolish. 

5. Refuse to Listen:

When conversing, dismissive people avoid engaging in conversations. 

How Does a Dismissive Person Act?

A dismissive person shows some specific type of behavioral patterns, which include: 

  1. Emotional Detachment: they do not connect with others on an emotional level and always avoid building emotional connections. 
  2. Self-Centeredness: they are concerned about their own needs and points of view. 
  3. Avoid feelings: dismissive individuals do not engage in conversations where feelings and emotions are discussed. They are good at redirecting the topic. 
  4. Unable to apologize:  they can neither apologize nor admit that they are wrong. 

Examples of Dismissive Statements

  •  “You’re too sensitive.”
  • “You are making a mountain out of a mole.”
  • “You cannot understand the situation and the stress it is causing.” 
  • “I don’t have time for your stupid things.”
  • “You just want attention.”

Signs of dismissive behavior in a relationship

Spotting dismissive behavior can be difficult, especially when you don’t know what to look for. Therefore, to simplify things, here are certain signs of dismissive behavior. This will help you to identify your partner’s dismissive behavior.

1. They will never prioritize you:

The basis of a healthy relationship is appreciation and equality; however, when a person is in a relationship with a dismissive individual, these basic things become challenging as dismissive individuals will never value you, and they will always push you first sometimes such behavior is okay but when you try yourself over your partner and over anybody you are getting into the Trap of this message behavior.

2. They don’t believe in apologizing

If your friend, partner, or someone you are in a relationship with or know never says sorry for whatever wrong they do, it is a sign of dismissive behavior.

By apologizing for wrong, a person acknowledges that they have done something wrong and are sorry for the pain caused. However, if your partner or an individual you are interacting with can’t do this, they dismiss your feelings and the pain they caused.

3. They always have to be right:

A relationship only works when both partners are active listeners and respect each other’s values and opinions. However, if your partner just wants to be always right and doesn’t respect what you say, you know it is a sign of dismissive behavior.

Generally, this comes from insecurity and a fear of being inadequate. Whatever the case, when such an attitude is being followed, the relationship cannot last longer because only one party is trying to adjust, and the other is just trying to prove the point.

When there is no seriousness in a relationship, another person is not ready to take your thoughts seriously. There is always this missing perspective. It feels like breaking up and moving on. This happens with people who exhibit dismissive behavior.

4. For them, your emotions are not important

When you are a friend, your partner, or anyone you interact with doesn’t take your feelings seriously, they are invalidating your emotions, which is a sign of dismissive behavior. It can be manifested in ways like gaslighting, ignorance, belittling the person, or always putting their point.  

5. They withdraw from conflict:

No one likes having a conflict or fighting, but if your partner always avoids the issue and refuses to tackle it, making you feel heard, unseen, and unheard is important. It is a sign of dismissive behavior. 

A healthy relationship is one in which both have equal opportunity to speak and can tell what they feel and want. If you are having difficulty communicating with your partner or with anyone else and they are just trying to dominate you, then your partner is dismissing your need and is showing negligent behavior.

Reasons for Being Dismissive

1. Early Life Experiences:

If a person has undergone neglect, there has been no or minimal caregiving or rejection. As the person grows, they start to develop dismissive behavior.

2. Fear of Rejection:

Dismissive People often fear rejection or hurt due to emotional connection. This is why they avoid maintaining emotional connection and use distance as their protective mechanism.

3. Minimal Emotional Awareness:

They aren’t aware of their emotional state, making empathizing challenging.

4. Learned Behavior:

Chances of an individual growing up in an environment where dismissive behavior was the ideal wave to interact.

5. Intimacy Avoidance:

Dismissive behavior can also be a way of avoiding intimacy. If a person feels overwhelmed or uncomfortable with the intensity of their partner’s emotions, they might respond dismissively to create distance.

This means they don’t have to deal with the underlying issues or feelings that create intimacy.

4. Unresolved anger:

Sometimes, unresolved anger is responsible for dismissive behavior. When a person keeps holding onto what happened in the past, there is pent-up anger, which makes the person dismissive. Moreover, understanding the source of anger becomes difficult.

5. Fear of vulnerability:

The fear of opening up and sharing feelings can also make one display dismissive behavior. This is done to hide the feeling and show the vulnerable side.

6. Poor emotional regulation:

When people cannot understand and regulate their emotions, dismissive behavior is how they get things done.

7. Low emotional intelligence

Lack of empathy and low emotional intelligence are also responsible for dismissive behavior. People with low EI cannot understand the outcome of their behavior, leading to a dismissive response without any realization.

8. Insecurity:

Those who feel insecure also show dismissive behavior, as it is their way of controlling things and acting in a certain way. Usually, there is a strong feeling of inadequacy.

9. Lack of connection:

There is an understanding that their behavior impacts others, but they show a carefree attitude to prove that they are right. This could be because of the dismissiveness in their behavior.

10. Low standards

Sometimes, dismissive behavior results from low standards and people allowing them to push the boundaries. When they see no challenge in making people hear them, they act in a way they think is right and start to take control, ignore people, and be dismissive about the situation.

11. Manipulation:

Sometimes, dismissive behavior can be an attempt to manipulate and gain control. People who want to make others feel small and take over all the power show dismissive behavior through manipulation.

12. Being distracted:

People also adopt dismissive behavior when they are too busy and have been asked to take time and fulfill certain responsibilities.  They show a lack of energy and focus more on themselves than the job at hand. 

Whatever the reason, it gives no one the right to show dismissive behavior because it is unacceptable as it makes others look insignificant and small.  If you are someone or you know someone with dismissive behavior, knowing the underlying reason helps, but accepting the behavior just because a problem causes it will not work. Therefore, you should learn ways to deal with it.  If nothing seems to work, then contact a therapist.

Dealing with a Dismissive Person

It can be difficult to interact with a person who has a dismissive attitude; however, there are strategies to navigate:

1. Keep calm:

Do not react to their dismissiveness; be emotionally neutral. By avoiding replying to the comments, you take away control and can manage things more perfectly.

2. Open communication:

You need to clearly explain your needs without getting aggressive and always welcome and encourage an open and respectful conversation.

3. Set Boundaries:

Create boundaries to keep yourself protected from the harm excessive dismissive behavior can cause.

4. Empathize:

Before you react or judge the person, understand the root cause for dismissive behavior. It will help you to be compassionate and considerate, which is the key to dealing with a dismissive person.

5. Seek Professional Help:

If dismissive behavior affects your day-to-day life and mental being. It is time to see professional guidance as this individual will help rebuild the bond between your relationships and help manage the effects of dismissive behavior.

Final thoughts on dismissive behavior

If your partner, friend, colleague, or anyone you know exhibits dismissive behavior. It’s important to remember there is always a root cause for it, and the only way to move past it is to understand it.

Also, the person should be willing to work on the cause, and they should be ready to open the community. Only then can things work, and there will be an understanding, 

You need to understand that dismissive behavior can be harmful to you and all of your relationships. In dismissive behavior, there is a lack of respect and insults, which makes it difficult to make a healthy relationship.

Hence, it’s important to address dismissive behavior as soon as possible. We hope that by using the information we explain, you will now be able to recognize the characteristics, reasons, and ways to deal with people who exhibit dismissive behavior. 

Always remember that psychological and emotional factors are the reason behind dismissive behavior.  Therefore, you must be empathetic towards such people as it is the only way to have a healthy and productive relationship. When you approach a dismissive person with patience and a positive attitude, you can help them deal with this complex behavior.

Hence, remember this behavior Is not something that cannot be dealt with by paying attention to its characteristics and the reasons you can easily work with a person exhibiting dismissive behavior and complex interpersonal issues rooted in various psychological and emotional factors.

Understanding its definition, recognizing its characteristics, and empathizing with the reasons behind it can be the first steps toward healthier and more productive interactions with dismissive individuals. Approaching these relationships with patience, assertiveness, and empathy can foster positive change and promote healthier, more meaningful connections.

About The Author

Ayush Yadav
Ayush Yadav

Aayush is a writer, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change and make people aware about the history. He holds a bachelor's in law, lives in the princely state Jaipur and is passionate about helping people in anyway possible. In his spare time, he is usually out with friends and enjoys exploring different facets of life.

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