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What Planned Ignoring Does and Why We Shouldn’t Get Comfortable With It

It hurts my feelings to be ignored.  She said it.  In her full five year old boldness. And I understood it. I quickly got it.

It gave me pause and moved me to think about how ignoring (planned or unplanned) is dismissive of the human condition. It made me think about the children who cannot utter these words for a myriad of reasons and the adults who don’t dare to act in clear vulnerability to speak the same.

Ignoring is saying I won’t see you. Because what you are doing does not meet my expectations, I will ignore you until you comply. It is dismissing the heart behind the behavior that beckons to be seen. Some may agree and say that there are challenges in behavior exhibited by individuals whose primary function is to be seen by all costs.  This being seen moves them to act, be, perform in ways that challenge the observer(s) in many ways. 

I get this.

But papercuts hurt.

I’ve seen this type of ignoring at conferences.  I’ve seen this ignoring when people feel small and want to continue a cycle of oppression felt by others to another.  I’ve seen this ignoring when people announce their pain only to be told that their feelings are not real. I’ve seen this in therapy when we fail to look into the eyes and discern the cries of children.


They hurt and sometimes these small gashes hurt more than the larger scar.

Papercuts accumulated make us feel pain.  We then grow accustomed to pain as a normal space of interaction and expectation.  We then become hardened. And it takes lots of intervention for us to shift and become soft – human again.

These conversations around cultural humility, compassionate care are not new.  In fact, I find the lexicon and lingo being weaponized and worn as a badge of honor to be a nuisance (sometimes…it depends).


Because people in service fields entered these spaces because we wanted to work professionally and carry with us compassion within our work. And while its missing in many ways in service and care.  It is not because of people directly, but because of our silence.

Like the papercut, our silence  can start small.  It can also become more painful, take root, and become infected. This overlooked and underscored problem is now grotesque and we can no longer look at IT nor each other in the eye. We fully know that there are remedies, but to begin would be of cost to us.  All of us. 

We have measured the reality that to call X +  callout Y would equal being sidelined, silenced, and blocked from the professional climb.

We know that identifying a small group of people to be communicated representatives of one cultural/ethnic/racial group goes against any education or training about cultural sensitivity…yet we do it. 

We know that people who have unapologetically acted in racism, sexism, and mediocrity for personal gain in their structural positions of power should no longer be placed in those positions, yet we do it.

We know that talking about diversity looks like actual diversity on Executive Teams and Advisory boards, yet we do not do this.

We ally around these potholes of collective accountability.  We clap and post pictures about talks.  We quote people and yet remain participants in marginalization.

We feel comfortable, because there are many from these marginalized groups with underdeveloped identities that say nothing, smile and align themselves to these papercuts. There are those willing to wear uncomfortable clothing  in order to reach the moving goal post. There are those of us who understand that the pressure of pain will have damaging long-term effects and refuse to engage in this parody. We risk being misjudged and mislabeled.


And we remain silent.  We shun those who speak out and up.  We will memorialize and uphold them  when they are no longer here. (and my family and friends have specific instructions, so…tread carefully)


We throw around words like compassion, cultural humility, and such. Yet we do not act upon these words that call us to be different…to say something when we see something.

We think these words and applause and momentary microphones are enough.

They are not.

It is about using our words in childlike boldness to advocate for ourselves first.

It is about using our words to speak well to and about one another.

It is about using our words to call  accountability to  leaders who are obviously misplaced and talk to their organizations about how they represent themselves in the marketplace.

It is about using our words and realizing that those who cannot speak for themselves also do not like nor should they be ignored.

It is about realizing that ignoring (planned or unplanned) is a form of marginalization of people. And when we act in this way in professional self-righteousness we become what we profess that we are not.

Papercuts are on the people around us.  Walking around at conferences, into parent training sessions, treatment rooms, and work spaces.

Papercuts will continue to sting until we become salve. 


~Landria Seals Green

Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash
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