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5 Reasons You're Getting Ignored at Work (and What to Do About It)

Jade Yourth
Industry Insights
girl with an iphone infront of her face

It has nothing to do with Millennials.

We all know how infuriating it can be when you're being ignored. When backs are facing towards you, eyes are glued to phones or questions awkwardly hang in the air, keeping your cool can be easier said than done. 

Parents may expect this type of behavior from teenagers at home, but definitely not from professionals in the workplace. As the person in charge, what you say should be acknowledged by every member of your team.  

But before you start ranting through the hallways or raging at your next meeting, stop and consider what the real issue may be. (Hint: it has nothing to do with Millennials or an entitled staff). 

So what's the deal for getting the cold shoulder? Sorry to break it to you, but it's you, not them. Your leadership skills need to come into greater focus. Addressing the root of the problem is the first step.

Here are five reasons you're getting ignored at work and how to fix them:

1. You lack clarity.

Leaders have to exercise effective communication. You may think you're being clear and concise with your message, but the truth is, everyone interprets conversations differently. 

A great way to guide yourself in finding the right delivery is to consider who you're talking to. What is the person's expertise, experience or knowledge? If you're listing acronyms and internal terms to a new hire, they're not going to have the slightest clue what you're talking about.

On the other hand, you could be repeating yourself for the hundredth time (which may explain why eyes are starting to glaze over). Before you start your next meeting, ask what they already know about the topic before you begin. This will help you filter out information that is already known and engage with staff off the bat.

2. You're sending the wrong message.  

Your staff instinctively pick up on non-verbal signals that you're sending. From avoiding eye contact to fidgeting to crossing your arms, these subconscious behaviors can make it appear that you're annoyed, uninterested, or that the topic isn't that important.

Body language can be challenging to manage, because we're often unaware of what we're doing, or how it looks. If you think this could be the problem, ask your team to take note and provide feedback for you whenever possible. This is a great opportunity for growth in honest communication and trust between you and your coworkers.

3. You choose not to listen.

Is reason you're being ignored due to the fact that you're ignoring them? Listening demands your full attention. It's a choice, not a skill.

Dividing your attention to the phone, the laptop, and your staff can leave them feeling frustrated, devalued or less important. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

4. You talk at people. 

One-way dialogue does not foster great communication. Talking at someone instead of with them communicates that you're denying them the opportunity to provide their knowledge and insight. Ask questions, invite feedback, and welcome them to the conversation. 

If you're someone who loves to talk or is known for your grandiose speeches, do your best to shorten up your dialogue. It doesn't take long before people naturally start to tune you out. A good tip to avoid this is to ask questions throughout your presentation as opposed to the end. 

5. You don't follow-up with action.

Listening is pointless if you're not following through. When opening up the table to constructive feedback, thoughts for improvement and other opinions from staff, you need to be keeping more than just a mental note.

Schedule meetings with your employees, write down their feedback, and summarize what they said at the end so they know you were listening. Make sure you follow-up with a realistic plan of action and a well-thought out process to implement any changes. The time and energy you put into what your employees and colleagues have to say, will be reciprocated back to you.

By Mandy GilbertFounder and chief executive, Creative Niche