How to Ignore People You No Longer Wish to Be Around

Four Parts:Distancing Yourself From OthersCutting Off Electronic CommunicationMaintaining Your Own HappinessDrawing Positive People Into Your Life

It can be difficult to ignore someone who upsets you or causes you a lot of grief. This can be even more difficult when that individual is someone you have to see or interact with on a regular basis at school, work, or family events. However, learning how to distance yourself from negative people and replace those individuals with positive, supportive people can help you preserve your own happiness and stability in life.

Part 1
Distancing Yourself From Others

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    Stay away from places you know that person will be. The easiest way to ignore a person is to avoid encountering that individual altogether. You can reduce the chances of running into someone by avoiding the places you used to hang out together or where you know that person frequently spends his/her time.
    • Find new restaurants, bars, and coffee shops to visit. Look for places slightly outside that individual's immediate neighborhood.
    • Try to go shopping at stores further away from that individual's home (if you know where he/she lives).
    • If a mutual friend invites you somewhere, ask that friend if the individual you're avoiding will be there. Then you can decide whether to go or not.
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    Limit your interactions with the individual. Limiting contact with someone is a good way to ignore them without necessarily cutting them out of your life. Cutting off all ties with someone can be difficult if you are related or if you work together. However, it can help you avoid having to interact with the individual on a regular basis, which may make you feel better.[1]
    • Keep conversations and interactions as short and infrequent as possible by giving brief, unemotional responses without expanding on the things you say. For example, you might say something like, "I'm fine. I've got to get back to work now."
    • Resist the urge to say anything mean or hurtful, as this will only make things worse.
    • By limiting your contact and avoiding unnecessary interactions with someone you don't want to be around, you can essentially cut ties with that person without having to close the door on polite social interactions in the future.
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    Deflect conversational attempts from the individual. Whether you work together, have mutual friends, or simply cross paths from time to time, it's important to resist the other person's attempts at drawing you into a conversation. You can do this by ignoring that person if they attempt to talk to you.[2]
    • Try ignoring what the person says, and resist the urge to respond.
    • If you're in a social situation where you absolutely must say something, try sharing your own personal thoughts/feelings on something that has nothing to do with what the other person said.
    • Whether you ignore what was said outright or you talk about your own interests as though you didn't hear/understand the other person, you're effectively communicating that you're not interested in what he/she has to say.
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    Have a buffer with you if you absolutely must talk to the person. If you can't avoid crossing paths with someone at work or at a social event, it may be helpful to have an outside friend with you. This friend can help buffer your encounter with the individual you don't want to be around. He/she will help ensure that things remain civil and can help direct the conversation to a neutral subject if the other person tries to make things unpleasant in any way.
    • Let your buffer know what you need him/her to do. Make sure your friend is okay with filling this role up front so that he/she doesn't feel used or confused later on.
    • Develop some type of nonverbal signal so that you can both excuse yourselves if you need to get away in a hurry.
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    Try being polite to people you can't avoid. If you cannot avoid certain people, you can always try being extra polite towards those individuals.[3] Sometimes a kind approach can curb the negative behavior in others that you wish to avoid.[4]
    • Resist the urge to be rude to the people you do not like.
    • Instead, be strong and confident. Reflect on your own positive attributes and remember that you are a capable individual who deserves to be happy.
    • Don't let the people you want to avoid bring you down with their negativity. Rise above it by refusing to engage.
    • Say something nice when you feel the urge to be mean, then simply excuse yourself and leave the room. For example, you might say, "You did a great job at the presentation this week. I'm going to grab another coffee - please excuse me."
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    Stay strong and secure. If you're trying to avoid being around someone, there's a good chance that individual is negative or otherwise unpleasant. These types of people typically try (whether consciously or not) to get under your skin. They may tell you that you're foolish for taking chances, or they may try to discourage you from having hopes and dreams at all. If you've decided to disengage with someone, it's important that you stay strong and try not to let that individual get to you or change you.[5]
    • Even if you don't feel secure or strong, it's important that you believe that you can be strong. This can help create a buffer between you and the negative people in your life.
    • Don't let the negative words and actions of others affect the way you feel about yourself or the way you live your life. Use positive affirmations and self-talk to break out of any negative thoughts the person might make you have.
    • Remind yourself that you're a good person and that your friends and family care about you. That must mean that you have positive attributes that the other individual simply isn't willing to see.

Part 2
Cutting Off Electronic Communication

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    Block phone contact with someone you don't wish to be around. If you want to cut off contact with someone you don't wish to be around, you may want to consider blocking that individual from calling or texting you. This may not be necessary if you don't have any regular contact with the individual, but it certainly won't hurt.
    • To block calls on an iPhone, select that individual from your contacts list and choose "Block This Caller." To block texts, go into your messages, choose the individual you want to block, and select "Details," then "Info," and then "Block Contact."[6]
    • To block calls/texts on an Android phone, go to Call Settings and select "Call Rejection," which will take you to the "Auto Reject List." From there you'll just search for and select the number you wish to block.
    • To block calls/texts on a Windows phone, go to Settings and select "Call + SMS Filter," then switch the "Block Calls" function on. Then just hold down the number you want to block, select "Block Number," and hit "OK."
    • If you use a BlackBerry phone, you'll need to speak to someone from your wireless carrier to block an unwanted phone number from contacting you.
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    Cut off social media connections. Even if you manage to avoid someone in person, that individual may still be able to contact you via social media. If you're friends with or follow someone on a social media site, that person can find out what you're doing or where you're going, and he/she could send you threatening or harassing messages through social media as well.[7]
    • If you're friends/followers with the individual on social media, you can unfriend or unfollow that person. You can also block that individual so that he/she cannot see what you post and cannot contact you in any way.
    • If you're not friends/followers with the individual on social media, or if you've already unfriended that person, change your privacy settings within that social media site so that only your friends can see what you post.
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    Prevent someone from emailing you. If the person you're trying to avoid has your email address, you may fear getting an aggressive or confrontational email from that person. You can prevent this by blocking that individual from emailing you, or by filtering out all messages from that individual (depending on which email server you use).
    • To filter out emails in Gmail, select a message from that individual in your inbox by marking the checkbox next to it. Click the drop-down menu, choose "More," then "Filter messages like these," and on the redirected page select the option "Delete it."[8]
    • To block emails in Microsoft Outlook, simply right-click a message from that individual, then click "Junk," followed by "Block Sender."[9]

Part 3
Maintaining Your Own Happiness

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    Learn to recognize the things that set you off. There may be times when you cannot avoid being around a person who is negative. Whether it's a colleague, relative, or neighbor, you may have to be around or (even interact with) negative people from time to time. When that happens, it's important that you recognize the things that set you off and try to be aware of those triggers to avoid getting upset.[10]
    • Make a list of the people, places, and things that cause you to feel unhappy, angry, or frustrated.
    • Consider why those people, places, and things trigger a negative reaction for you.
    • Think about how those triggers may come up in your day-to-day life, and plan strategies that will help you avoid or minimize these situations.
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    Resist the urge to complain about the people you don't like. Even though you might feel like venting your frustrations, doing so may actually end up alienating other people. They may be friends with the individual you don't like, or they may just get sick of hearing you say bad things about others. If you constantly complain about someone, the friends and colleagues that you spend time with may even end up wanting to distance themselves from you.[11]
    • Instead of complaining about the person you no longer wish to be around, make a point of not discussing that person in conversation with others.
    • Talk with others about positive things that you do enjoy. Otherwise, the person you don't like will end up consuming a lot of your time and energy.
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    Take responsibility for your own words and actions. When you blame others for your own negative words and actions, it gives that person power over you and subtly takes away your own self control. No matter how upset someone else makes you, it's ultimately your decision to engage with that anger/frustration or to let it go. The things you say or do, even if you do them because of your frustration with someone, are still your choice and your responsibility.[12]
    • Your words and actions do not exist inside a bubble. You cannot blame others for the things you choose to say or do, even if you're upset with someone you don't wish to be around.
    • Try to change the way you think about that person. Your thoughts influence your words and actions, so catching and restraining negative thoughts can help stop you from giving meaning to those thoughts.
    • Once you've learned to ignore the person who upsets you, just let that person go. Stop wasting your time and energy thinking about that individual altogether, and stop yourself any time you notice yourself thinking about him/her.

Part 4
Drawing Positive People Into Your Life

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    Recognize and project your best qualities. Positive people are generally drawn to other positive people. If you want to attract positive individuals into your life, it makes sense that you should let those people know that you are also positive. You can do this in subtle ways once you learn how to tune into and project your best, most desirable qualities.[13]
    • Think about what makes you a positive individual. Do you compliment others or go out of your way to be kind, for example?
    • Make a conscious effort to engage in those activities more frequently - not just so others will see you, but to cultivate a more positive lifestyle of your own.
    • Let your actions speak for you when it comes to what kind of person you are and what type of life you live.
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    Identify and seek out the positive people who are already in your life. Chances are there are already some very strong, positive individuals in your life. As you distance yourself from people you no longer wish to be around, it's important to replace those individuals with the people you do want around. Generally, it's best to keep positive, caring people close to you, as they make good friends and can help influence you to better yourself.[14]
    • Think about the friends, family members, and coworkers who are always positive in the face of adversity. You should also think about who the kindest, most considerate/compassionate individuals are in your life.
    • Reach out to those people. Make an effort to spend more time together, and try inviting them to social events so you can spend as much time as possible together.
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    Meet and spend time with new positive people. In addition to the people already in your life, you should actively seek out new positive people to befriend. Finding new people who are positive and compassionate will help you further cement your social circle with people you admire and want to be around. This can help make you a better, more desirable friend for others.[15]
    • Look for new positive people at your local gym, a faith group, an outdoor club (like a hiking group), and other places kind, positive people might spend their time.
    • Try volunteering. You'll feel great doing it and you'll meet other people who care about a common cause (and who are generally positive, compassionate people).
    • Even short amounts of time together getting coffee or having lunch can boost your mood and your outlook.
    • Be proactive. If the positive people you meet are busy, reach out to them and schedule some time together whenever it's convenient for both of you to get together.


  • If you ever come across this person in a shop or store, pretend you don't see him or her. Change your walking speed, stop, or turn irrationally. If they say something to you, tell them that you are in a rush and you really must go. If all else fails, just keep quiet.
  • Just because someone is related to you, it doesn't mean you have to put up with their negative behavior. If someone makes you feel bad or hurts you, you have every right to politely and respectfully cut ties with that individual.
  • Do not be rude or mean back to that person. This will not fix what that person has done to you, and ultimately it makes you a worse person.


  • If you decide to really ignore someone for a prolonged period, you must expect that the two of you may never talk again and come to terms with that.
  • At some point, you may decide that you want to communicate with the person that you have been ignoring in an effort to settle the dispute. Remember that this may not always be possible or reasonable. However, if it's someone you'll be forced to see regularly (like a relative or a colleague), it may be necessary.
  • If the person is an abusive spouse, or boyfriend/girlfriend, ignoring them will provoke them, and make the situation worse. Seek professional help and get out of the situation!

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Changing and Losing Friends | Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions