"Attention old white guy - don't ignore me!"

Posted In: Confidence and Control
Posted On: 11/1/2016

I was confused. But now I am just mad. Mad at him for making me feel insignificant. Mad at me for allowing him to do that. Read on if you have ever been ignored. -Jane

To set the stage, I was at a lovely event hosted by my local Chamber of Commerce.  I was excited to be there as I was one of three judges in the final round of an entrepreneurial venture challenge. As one does at these events, I was walking about chatting with people I know and trying to meet some new folks.

It was about time to sit down for the program, so I headed back to my table where one of the other judges was talking to another man.  I walked up to the two of them and the one I knew nodded at me and the other guy kept on talking, without even glancing my way.  When he took a breath, I introduced myself to him, assuming that I would then be a part of the discussion.

Well, that did not happen.  He looked annoyed that I was even there and did nothing to acknowledge my presence.  In fact, he went right back to talking to the other guy, as if I was not even there.  I can’t recall what he was talking about but he was obviously intensely into the discussion. He was single-mindedly focused on this other judge who, indeed, has a powerful position at a big company.  And he probably assumed that I was nobody he needed to know. I am sure you’ve seen a man like this before, all old and gray-haired, in a suit, looking down at someone younger and in my case, not male.  But I can’t remember when I was so blatantly ignored and, as such, my presence minimized.  Me minimized.

What do you do in a situation like this?

There are a few obvious options:

-You just stand there feeling insignificant (which is what I did);

-You walk away and find some other people who actually have interest in talking to you (which is what I should have done); or

-You call the guy an asshole to his face (which is not a good choice in reality, but sounded like a barrel of fun in my head!).

Just walk away is the right choice.  
Because I would have felt in control and I would have actually been in control of the situation.

Food for thought:  It isn’t always just old white guys who ignore people they don’t know.  And sometimes it’s easy to get in a heavy discussion with someone and unintentionally ignore someone else. Next time you are at an event, take note if you are having a discussion that would be better suited for a private setting.  Take a moment to talk to someone new without having an agenda.  Without knowing if they have some big title or big job.  Don’t miss out on the chance to meet someone great. That old white guy doesn’t know what he is missing.