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Ignoring or Refusing

Most people don't like being told "no".

It's common that people ignore a request instead of refusing. They say nothing instead of "no". Especially online. In person sometimes it's hard to say nothing so they change the topic, or some something unclaer, or say "maybe" (then don't do it), rather than clearly saying "no".

In Overwatch, people commonly ask you to switch to a different hero. If you reply, "no" you're giving them useful information. You aren't going to change, so maybe someone else should consider changing. Knowing what you're going to do lets people synergize with it better. But people get angry if you say "no" and take it better if you silently ignore them. If you refuse them they feel challenged and confronted and try to fight with you. But if you're silent then you haven't challenged their right to order you around, and haven't confronted them socially, and they don't have anything to fight over. You appear the coward. And what happened is ambiguous. Maybe you're having problems with your headphones and didn't even hear them.

I prefer the type of people who say "no" instead of being silent. But most people are the silent coward types, and most people dislike it if you say "no" as if you have a right to say it and it's a valid, reasonable decision. People want conflict to be hidden in general. If I say "no" it's obvious we disagree, you want me to do X and I refuse. Silence hides the conflict better.

Passivity is immoral but normal. Asserting yourself stands out more. Communicating provides useful information, and silence is ambiguous – but people don't care much about that, they care about social status and interaction.

People are frequently silent because it's easier. Why go to the trouble of saying "no" – even if it's useful information – when people will hassle you for it? This is unfortunate. It'd be better if people communicated more honestly and weren't punished for it.

Elliot Temple on February 19, 2017


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