When it comes to dealing with people you don’t want to be around (let alone talk to), there are only two things you can do.
You can either change them (good luck with that!) or you can bring changes to your behavior.
Personally, I think you shouldn’t waste any energy trying to change them… especially when it comes to ignorant people.
This particular type of people can make you want to pull out your hair. They will simply ignore the facts, counter your evidence with some nonsensical reasoning, and won’t walk two feet to search for the truth themselves.
And the sad part is, they are unlikely to change no matter how hard you try.
So, it’s best that you learn a handful of great ways to deal with them for the sake of your own sanity!
Let’s take a look at these 17 tips and ways to deal with ignorant people in more detail.
1) Ignore Them
This is the first and foremost method you should try, especially if the person is not someone that you have to deal with on a regular basis.
For instance, if an ignorant person is trying to get under your nerves at your workplace, simply ignore what they are saying and concentrate on something else.
Chances are, they will leave you alone and bother someone else!
Cold, I know. But necessary.
Or, if you’re hanging out in a group and there happens to be an ignorant person speaking nonsense to you, simply divert your attention to someone specific in a tactful manner.
I guarantee you this will not only send a clear message, but you will also feel instant peace and calm. If this doesn’t work somehow, you can politely ask them to leave you alone. I know, this will require a little courage, but sometimes you just have to confront certain people.
2) Maintain Physical Distance
I’m sure, at least once in your life, you have taken a U-turn when you spotted someone that you just didn’t want to deal with at that moment.
It could have been in school, at your work, or even in a public place. You need to do the same when you have to avoid an ignorant person.
Do this only when you know that a conversation with them will hamper your peace. So, for instance, if you spot them coming your way at your job, you could just go the other way so you never cross paths.
This even works if you happen to be talking to them. If they say something that just blows your mind (not in a good way), you can just walk away! Again, I know that’s cold, but it sends a strong message that what they are saying is just not dealable.
The same works when you’re having a raging debate with someone in the comments section of a social media post! Simply walk away from that argument, as there is no way it will lead to something worthwhile.
3) Offer References
Look, it’s not always possible or a good idea to ignore an ignorant person.
Sometimes, it may become important for you to make the other person understand your point.
This is especially the case if you are working in the same company or the same team. In situations like these, it is critical to get everybody on the same page so that the job can be done properly. This also becomes important when someone you care about is jumping to conclusions instead of looking at the facts.
So, the obvious thing to do is to offer references to the right information so that they can see for themselves what the truth is.
You could say something like, “I understand that you think X is true, but if you check out Y, you will realize that Z is correct.”, or “Here is an article or a study that distinctly proves that X is correct”.
Providing proof on the spot can make them realize that they were indeed wrong. This can solve a lot of problems before they even crop up.
4) Know When To Stop
As I just said, you should always first try to offer references to an ignorant person to make them see the error in their judgment.
However, if they are unwilling to look at the facts or even the proofs of those facts, it is better to just let it go.
I mean, what else can you really do?
There might come a time, where it is no longer productive to try and explain any further. So, it is a good idea to end the discussion and walk away.
I know this sounds really hard to do, especially when you just know that you’re right.
However, you need to be the mature one and understand that there is no point in pursuing the discussion. Letting go and moving on will save you a lot of energy and mental peace. It is things like these that contribute to your emotional well-being.
5) Use An Excuse
As I said above, you can’t always ignore an ignorant person.
What if one of your colleagues is displaying ignorance?
So, now you have two choices.
Either you listen to their ignorance (even after trying to explain to them what the facts are) or make an excuse and leave from that place. I am sure you already know which one I favor.
So the next time your colleague is being ignorant about something, you can make an excuse and walk away.
You can be so creative with this. “I have a ton of work to do, so I should get back to it.”, “I need to leave early today so I should complete my work”, “Oh, I am getting a call, I’ll talk to you later.” Feel free to make any excuse that comes to mind!
Sadly, this might not be effective or great advice for your ignorant family members!
6) Distract Yourself
Sometimes, someone’s ignorance may really bother you. This is typically the case when the topic at hand is something you care about deeply.
Obviously, you will try to correct them but if instead of acknowledging their lack of knowledge, they try to pile up on their ignorance, it might annoy you a lot.
The best thing to do is to distract yourself from these situations.
I mean think about it, if you dwell on the topic any further, or if you engage them in further discussion, you will get more and more annoyed.
Ultimately, you might say or do something that you might not take back later. So, simply distract yourself by shifting your attention to your work, your hobby, or even some entertainment. The last one is my personal favorite!
7) Dealing With Family
It can be quite easy to deal with ignorant people who are not that close to you.
But what about a family member who says ignorant things all the time and creates a difficult situation at home?
This might not happen to everyone but it does to some people. Therefore, it’s necessary to know how you can deal with them so that the peace and serenity of your family can be maintained.
You can start by trying to change the subject and moving everyone’s attention towards a different thing. You can be sneaky about it or you can tell them straight, “Let’s just change the subject for everyone’s sakes”.
If this is not possible, you need to maintain your cool, take charge, and diffuse the situation peacefully. Be as polite and sensitive as possible. Make sure that the ignorant person sees that you are genuinely listening to them.
Since they’re your family member, you can try and talk to them frequently to make them realize that their behavior is not acceptable. Do this when you’re all alone with them. It might take time but if they care about you, they might change.
8) Be And Look Busy
When you’re busy at your work, it’s unlikely that someone would readily approach you and bother you.
You can even try to “look extra busy” if you spot a usually ignorant person approaching you. One of the best ways to do this is to wear your earphones. This might look like a small thing, but the signal it sends is quite strong. It tells people that you don’t want to be disturbed as you’re most probably focused on your work.
Another thing that you can try (which I admit is quite sad), is acting like you’re talking on a phone when you see an ignorant person approaching.
I’m sure they won’t even think about bothering you when they see that you’re already talking to someone else. I know, I know, you shouldn’t have to do things like these, but sometimes, you have to give priority to your emotional well being.
9) Be Professional
Ok, let’s talk about something really important.
Oftentimes, when you’re talking to an ignorant person, you might get into a heated argument.
No matter how hard you try, if they are not ready to listen to the facts, that may make any conversation with them a painful task. One thing can lead to another and soon, you might get so angry that you may shout at them or say something unprofessional.
It is in moments like these that you should remind yourself about professionalism.
No matter what, you have to act professional, keep your calm, and find a better way to deal with the situation. If you fall victim to anger or rage, you might do something that you’ll regret later. In worst-case scenarios, you might even lose your job. This would be highly tragic!
So, just be a professional and either ignore them or walk away.
10) Vent To A Friend
We all need someone to share our thoughts and emotions.
This is human nature and when this outlet is not available, it can add to your frustration. All those thoughts can swirl around inside your head and launch you into planet negativity.
If you have to deal with ignorant people regularly, this might adversely affect the quality of your life.
Don’t let this happen to you.
A great way to release all the frustration is to talk to a friend. This can be someone at work (your work friend), or your friend in personal life.
You can let out everything that is bothering you and at the end of it, you will feel much lighter and relaxed.
However, remember to only vent about the things that the ignorant person said or did. Don’t start attacking them personally. Otherwise, it will add to the negativity.
11) Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Whenever you’re arguing with someone, you tend to double down on your own perspective.
As a result, you try harder and harder to communicate what you think and feel. When the other person is not able to understand you or the two of you aren’t able to find consensus, you might get angry or frustrated.
This prevents you from understanding what they have to say or why they are saying/doing what they are saying/doing.
Instead of trying harder to put your points across, you can try to put yourself in their shoes.
You can ask yourself, “Why is she saying all these things”, “What contributed to them being this way”, “What may have shaped their views in life”. This non-judgmental analysis of them could help you find peace even if the person still chooses to bother you from time to time.
It will become a lot easier to deal with them once you understand why they are the way they are.
12) Be Mindful
Mindfulness is a spiritual practice that will help you immensely while dealing with ignorant people. In it, you enter into a state of total awareness of the present moment in a completely non-judgmental way.
If you want to imagine how it looks like, think of monks who are chill all the time. There is hardly anything that would bother a monk. Of course, you might need a lot of practice to get to that stage, but even at a beginner level, mindfulness will help you out greatly.
Let me paint you a picture. Imagine an ignorant person saying all sorts of things that start to bother you. In response to this, you consciously go into a mindful state.
Now, all of a sudden, their words pass through you without any resistance at all.
It’s almost like a slow-mo situation, where you realize that if you don’t attach any meaning to the words they are saying, they won’t have any effect on you.
Regular practice of mindfulness at home will enhance your ability to remain as cool as a cucumber! You can practice being mindful while eating, walking, running, sitting, and so on. All you need to do is pay undivided attention to every aspect of what you’re doing at the moment without being emotionally attached to it.
13) Be Kind To Them
I know, it might take immense patience to do this, but you’d be surprised how often this can lead to positive outcomes.
There is a reason why the old adage “kill them with kindness” is still so popular.
So the next time you have to explain something to an ignorant person, and they are beginning to display their ignorance, you could take a deep breath, and proceed with kindness.
Even if what they say might frustrate you, show patience. Who knows, they might be inspired by your behavior and slowly start changing their ways!
And while explaining things to them, be as logical as possible. You could use clear sentences like, “I think ‘this’ is true because of ‘these’ reasons”, or “I know you think ‘this’ is true, and could you consider ‘this’ and ‘this’ as they point to the opposite being true.”
By behaving with them the way you want them to behave to you, you essentially create a model behavior that might rub off on them. We all learn by looking at other people. Who is to say they can’t or won’t do the same?
14) Agree To Disagree
Look, sometimes, an ignorant person just won’t understand your views and what you’re trying to explain.
Even logic and reason might fail during situations like these. Also, to add to your frustration, they might try to push their views on you, no matter how wrong they may be.
In this case, you should realize that they are simply not going to change their mind, and any further discussion on the topic is going to be futile.
Therefore, it is a good idea to say, “Let’s just agree to disagree on this.”
This is a non-confrontational method of ending an argument and there is nothing more they can say to engage you further. It will literally shut them down!
Imagine all the time and mental resources this will save you!
15) Take Action When Necessary
Ignorant people can be ignorant about a lot of things.
While most things are probably harmless (and can be let go), some things can be highly sensitive. These often include matters related to race, religion, gender, etc.
If and when they say hurtful things due to their ignorance about something that has sentimental value to you, you can take action against them. In those times, letting it slide or accepting their views is not necessary.
So, what can you do exactly?
At the workplace, you can complain about them to your boss or their superiors. You can also ask for a meeting with the human resource department. Although, make sure you get proof of what they said or did.
If it was in a chat or social media, you can take a screenshot.
If it was in person, you can gather eyewitnesses. You can decide upon the severity of your action based on what they did. If they resorted to bullying or violence, you can even get the police involved!
16) Practice Empathy
Sometimes you just have to take the high road and remind yourself that nobody is perfect.
As much as an ignorant person bothers you, they are still human and they have the right to have their own opinions (even if they are wrong).
So, you could get it into your head that you will no longer be bothered about what they think and how they view certain things (as long as they don’t encroach on your beliefs and things of value).
Also, I think it is a good idea to remind yourself of all the times that you were ignorant about something.
Think about how the people around you reacted and how you wanted them to react.
Maybe it will give you a wider perspective and be more open-minded the next time you have to interact with the ignorant person. This will also help you be kinder and more accepting of them. This might sound hard to do, but trust me, a change in your perspective works wonders!
17) Meditation/Breathing Exercise
Sometimes, things might get a little out of hand and you might find yourself a little too frustrated after interacting with an ignorant person.
In times like these, you can do some breathing exercises or go for a meditative session.
Studies have proved time and again that both of these are very effective in calming the human mind and helping you focus on things that matter.
So, whether it is in the workplace or at home, you can take about fifteen minutes to practice a few breathing exercises (you can find them online easily) or simply sit in a meditative posture and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing and count 10-20 cycles of breathing in and out.
Even a few minutes of this should help you clear your mind. This is important as it prevents you from wasting your entire day by overthinking stuff that doesn’t mean anything.
So, be rational, do some meditation, and know your priorities in life!