Oct 232016 5 Responses

5 Types of People You Should Ignore

One of the strangest elements of the pastorate is that I encounter a constant stream of people telling me what to do. It’s a bit ironic. Most people assume a majority of my time is spent telling other people what to do, but in reality I very rarely explicity tell others what to do. In most cases, I’m a sounding board trying to assist them in making their own decision.

Yet on a near daily basis people are telling me what to do. Some are well intended, others aren’t. Many are well-informed, but not all. Most think that what they are doing is unique; little do they know there are just one in a long line of people.

Maybe this occurs in other lines of work, but it’s hard to imagine many jobs have more people telling you what to do than the pastorate.

This means one of the most important aspects of my profession is knowing whom to ignore. There is no way a pastor could ever do everything every person told them to do, much less should he do even half of what he is told to do. Instead, wisdom must be continually sought in knowing what advice to take and what advice to ignore. It’s not always an easy task.

But there are some common themes regarding who to ignore.

5 Types of People You Should Ignore

1. The Haters. Some people are just going to hate. No matter what is happening, they will dislike everything you do and say. Ignore them. Kindly. Compassionately. Ignore them. And thank them as you do. Nothing of value has ever been accomplished without someone hating it. If the haters are hating, you might be doing something right.

2. The Baiters. While some hate, others bait. They are always looking for a way to trap you in something you have said. The point of the conversation isn’t clarification, it’s entrapment. When someone isn’t trying to help, but instead is trying to place blame, they aren’t a voice worth listening to. Listen to problem solvers, but don’t listen to those who are always trying to place blame. (See: What No One Ever Tells You About Being a Leader)

3. The Naysayers. The haters hate you. The Naysayers just love to say nay. They might love you, but they are afraid of progress so they are against everything. If someone is for nothing, their voice does not deserve to be heard. Anyone can say things won’t work, but it takes a leader to make things happen. If someone has a history of doing things and they say no, take their no seriously. But if someone just has a history of being a naysayer, ignore them.

4. The Delayers. Some don’t say no, but they avoid progress by continually delaying any decision or action. They continually want to push decisions for later. They will slow play getting information, avoid meetings, and do everything they can to delay action. You won’t hear from them until you are ready to act and then they will appear to try to push your action to a later date. Moving slowly can be wise, but make sure your slow action is a strategic choice and the not the result of a delayer.

5. The Debators. Some people just love to talk. They aren’t going to do anything. They never have done anything and never will do anything, but they love to debate. While debate is a healthy and productive exercise, it is only good if it results in action. If someone has a history of just debating, but not doing anything, don’t listen to them until they have a different track record.

A vital part of leadership is knowing whom to ignore, but it’s bad leadership to ignore everyone. A leader must depend on other voices in order to make a good decision. If a leader ignores some, to whom should they listen? (See: 5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Communication)

5 People You Should Hear

1. Those who are for you. While you can learn from people who aren’t for you, you can’t trust them. Everything they say has to be viewed through a skeptical lens. It’s far better to take advice from people who truly have your best interest at heart. If someone is for you, listen to them. Even if you disagree, at least your know their words are spoken in love.

2. Those who know you. One of the quickest signs you shouldn’t listen to someone is when they tell you what to do before asking the whats, whys, and hows of what you are currently doing. Unless they know you and what your goals are, how can they give you relevant advice? Without knowing your skill sets and passions, their good advice might actually be harmful. But if someone knows you, they might have good insight on what you should do or not do. Listen closely to those who know you well–especially your spouse. (See: You Don’t Know Me)

3. Those that will listen to you. Advice should always come in the form of a conversation. It should be a give and take exchange of ideas. When someone is quick to tell you their opinion, but slow to listen to yours, it’s a sign their voice will not be valuable. Good leaders listen as much as they talk. If someone won’t listen to you, don’t let them speak into your life. But if they will listen to you, take their words seriously.

4. Those who do what they say. Some people are all talk. They believe they know it all, but they are willing to do very little. If someone fails to live by their own words, don’t listen. But when someone has a history of doing what they say, that gives them a credibility few have.

5. Those you respect. You don’t have to respect everything about them, but you should have a deep respect for the topic under discussion. Find voices you value and listen to them.

A major skill of leadership is knowing who to ignore. Without fail, you will ignore a piece of advice you shouldn’t have. It happens to every leader and can’t be avoided. However, you can’t allow those occurrences to tempt you into listening to every person’s recommendation. Be very careful about who you allow to speak into your life.

5 Responses to 5 Types of People You Should Ignore
  1. Dianne Baer Reply

    Excellent post, Kevin! It is timely for me, personally, as one of my courses this quarter in my doctoral program is on leadership and advocacy in counseling. I plan to share this. Wisdom- so important, yet so many in leadership positions are without it!

  2. […] It’s amazing how easily most conflicts can be solved when two people sit down and have an hone... kevinathompson.com/3-things-i-hate-that-people-do-to-me
  3. Darren Matthew Yokers Reply

    Kevin,

    I appreciate your wisdom and desire to help others–even when the process is painful and disconcerting to the elemental status of human, fallen flesh.

    I may not agree with you on all points. But who agrees with everything that anyone says.

    The truth is in the pudding–the rich pudding of the words of life.

    I encourage you to keep serving all the delightful flavors with a smile and an eye on eternity-you have wonderful gifts.

    With brotherly love and affection defined by the purity of Jesus’ example,

    Darren

  4. Karen Reply

    Great post, full of wisdom. Some people just want to hear their own voice, pontificate. They remind me of an empty sack, full of hot air, and no substance. To engage in conversation with these individuals, is to encourage their aggression, belligerence and intimidation. I’ve learned it’s best to avoid them.

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