Why I became dismissive of dismissive people at work

Will Kelly
3 min readJun 16, 2024


Throughout my career as an employee, contractor, and freelancer, I’ve encountered various personalities and behaviors. Dismissive personalities stand out the most. Over time, I’ve become increasingly dismissive of such individuals, based on observing how their behavior negatively impacts collaboration, innovation, and workplace morale.

Dismissive attitudes undermine collaboration

Dismissive attitudes directly threaten effective teamwork. Collaboration thrives on open communication and the free exchange of ideas. When team members feel their contributions are consistently dismissed, they are less likely to share their thoughts and insights. This attitude, especially from managers, stifles the flow of essential information and ideas for any successful project.

A dismissive person often dominates conversations, interrupting or ignoring others’ input. They discourage participation and foster frustration, particularly if they lack technical expertise. In contrast, a collaborative environment encourages all voices, fostering a sense of inclusion and collective effort. Dismissiveness disrupts this balance, reducing team cohesion and productivity.

Ironically, the most dismissive people in the tech industry are often those with the least understanding of the technology, yet they’ve found their way into management roles.

Stifling innovation

Innovation frequently comes from the fringes — unexpected ideas from unconventional sources. I once had a manager who insisted everyone on the team contribute. Dismissive attitudes can prematurely shut down these ideas before they are fully explored. This mindset is detrimental to any organization aiming to stay competitive.

The best ideas often emerge from brainstorming sessions where the entire team has a voice. A culture supporting such openness can lead to breakthroughs and advancements that a dismissive environment might never achieve. When individuals feel safe expressing their ideas without fear of dismissal, creativity flourishes, benefiting the organization with diverse perspectives and solutions.

Eroding trust and morale

Trust is the bedrock of any healthy workplace. Dismissive behavior undermines this foundation, making team members feel undervalued and disrespected. When employees perceive their input is not appreciated, their engagement and motivation can plummet.

In an environment where trust is compromised, team members may be less willing to take risks or go the extra mile for a dismissive manager. This erosion of faith leads to decreased morale, affecting overall productivity and job satisfaction. A supportive and respectful workplace builds confidence, encouraging employees to contribute their best efforts.

Promoting a toxic culture

Persistent dismissive behavior contributes to a toxic work culture. If left unaddressed, such negativity can spread throughout the organization. Employees may become reluctant to share ideas or voice concerns, fearing ridicule or rejection, leading to a hostile environment where innovation and collaboration are stifled.

A toxic culture also impacts employee retention. Talented individuals are unlikely to stay where they feel undervalued and disrespected. High turnover rates result in costs related to recruitment, training, and the loss of institutional knowledge and continuity.

In my experience, the best workplaces foster a culture of mutual respect and active listening. Addressing dismissive behavior and promoting positive interactions are crucial in creating an inclusive and dynamic workplace. This encourages creativity and growth, benefiting both employees and the organization.

Ultimately, becoming dismissive of dismissive people isn’t about reciprocating negativity but about recognizing the detrimental effects of such behavior and striving to create a healthier, more collaborative work environment.

Will Kelly is a writer and content strategist, He writes about AI, DevOps, and the cloud for major IT publications. He also works with commercial clients. The English Major in him drives Will to still write for fun when he has a chance. Follow him on X: @willkelly or on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/willkelly.