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Dismissive Words

Loose Lips V
* Christian Living

Class Dismissed! Ah, those words still bring a bounce of joy to my heart and I’m not even in school! But most of the time, it hurts to be dismissed. I never want to be dismissive to anyone, yet I sometimes catch myself doing it. Here is how Merriam-Webster.com describes it:

  • Dismissive(adj): having or showing a disdainful attitude toward someone or something regarded as unworthy of serious attention
  • Words related to dismissive: diminish, discount, criticize, write off, belittle…
  • Nearest opposite words of dismissive: favor, commend, approve, compliment…

Often, dismissive words are non-verbal, aren’t they? But they speak so loudly! A shoulder shrug, an eyeroll, a sigh, or a glance at the watch; these can all leave someone feeling like they aren’t worth our time, and their story isn’t worth hearing.

The other day I caught myself being dismissive with a child I love. This kid has a great imagination and was going on and on with a make-believe tale. I realized I wasn’t even listening anymore, but my lips were still saying “wow.” and “that’s amazing.” It sounded just like that too – with periods and yawns instead of exclamation points and excitement. I’m sure that child felt my disinterest. I was thankful that I noticed in time to re-engage. “Wow! That is so amazing! You are a very creative storyteller!”

I don’t even want to think about how dismissive I can be when someone tries to talk to me while I’m writing, or on my phone, or otherwise distracted. I’m sure I don’t even respond some of the time. The people in my life are more important to me than my free-time activities, but how will they know that unless I turn, look them in the eyes, and actively converse when they need it, no matter what else is going on?

I recognize my own dismissive behavior because I often feel dismissed. It makes me want to do better; to pay attention, show favor, and sincerely offer commendation. Some people are so talented at validating others by the way they speak. Are you one of them? Do you have an example of either a dismissive or affirming conversation? Please share your thoughts, and together, let’s do away with dismissive words for good.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

Bryant McGill

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