Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Being Ignored or Blown Off

Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.

Conflict: Being Ignored or Blown Off

Category: Power struggles, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities, ego

Emails or texts going unanswered
Being talked over at a family dinner
Talking to someone who doesn’t bother to respond
Calling someone who always lets the call go to voicemail
Being stood up for a first date
The character’s ideas being dismissed without fair consideration
Being ditched for someone else by a friend or love interest at a social event
A friend cancelling plans with a lame excuse at the last minute
Being relegated to the outskirts of a group; being denied access to the inner circle
Being assigned only menial work tasks; not being considered for a promotion, important project, etc.
Discovering that the friend who cancelled their plans is out with other people

Minor Complications:
The character’s time being wasted
An assignment falling through the cracks when the character forgets that the other person didn’t get back to them
Venting to someone about the offending party, and them hearing about it
Not doing anything and being viewed as weak by others

Potentially Disastrous Results:
Flying off the handle and saying things that damage the relationship or make the character look bad
Accusing the other person of deliberate disrespect when it was really a misunderstanding
The character prematurely deciding to cut the person out of their life
Becoming more withdrawn and engaging less with others
The character not sharing their ideas or opinions at work, thereby lowering their value in the eyes of co-workers or the boss
Using unhealthy coping measures (bingeing, seeking love from anyone who will provide it, the character changing themselves to please others, etc.)
Not addressing the problem and letting it to escalate into a bullying or toxic situation

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Being embarrassed
Heightened insecurity as the character wonders what they’ve done wrong
The character believing that they’re as unimportant or undervalued as the person has made them feel
The character’s mind going in circles as they try to decide if the other person’s actions are deliberate or coincidental
Assuming that other people are ignoring the character because this one person has done it

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Anyone having to wait while the character chases down the absentee party (e.g., partners on a work project), people who are also inconvenienced (such as a parent who has to pick up a teenager early when her friends don’t show up)

Resulting Emotions: Anger, annoyance, anxiety, apprehension, betrayed, bitterness, confusion, denial, determination, disappointment, doubt, emasculated, embarrassment, flustered, frustration, homesick, humiliation, indignation, insecurity, intimidated, loneliness, powerlessness, resentment, surprise, unappreciated, uncertainty, vulnerability, worthlessness

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: Abrasive, addictive, insecure, jealous, martyr, melodramatic, needy, oversensitive, paranoid, vindictive, worrywart

Positive Outcomes: 
The character learning to be more assertive and stand up for him or herself
Being able to read superficial or insincere people more accurately
Confronting the individual and finding out that it was a misunderstanding, thereby learning the importance of communicating before jumping to conclusions
Learning the truth about the offending party and limiting their contact with him or her
The character striving to surround him or herself with positive and uplifting people
Determining not to treat other people in such a hurtful way

If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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Traci Kenworth
1 year ago

Great entry as always!

Dover Whitecliff
Dover Whitecliff
1 year ago

Excellent entry!