When someone removes themselves from a situation, it is often wise to remove them from the conversation. Not in a retaliatory way but in a healthy way.
I am primarily referring to someone who storms away or makes accusations of dynamics that do not exist or has a pattern of making a situation all about them. We want to follow up. We want to check on people. We want to listen to personal experiences and not dismiss them, but we also don’t want someone who will not stay invested run the conversation even after they’ve left.
I’ve seen it happen in unhealthy groups. It happens in work environments, ministry, community teams, and families. Someone walks away from important but difficult conversation. Sometimes it’s not in the middle of the conversation but afterward. They disengage or resign, and every now and then, you hear little from them, but often there are behind the scenes conversations with or about the person that continue to impact the group.
You might wonder why I bring this up. It’s not a recent personal experience. It’s more of a general dynamic I see happening. It doesn’t even have to be someone we personally know and work or serve alongside. We see it happen in politics and news stories. Even when someone is out of the limelight or a story fades, we continue to refer to the person or situation as the problem or turning point. That might be true, but if it is in the past, why are we not taking the next steps needed to heal or change?
When someone storms out, and we continue to let that person’s claims and actions consume our conversation, we give power and influence where we should give pause. Not that we should completely dismiss someone, but we can keep the interaction in context.
And it’s a dynamic we need to be aware of when we prepare to leave a situation. Do we truly want to leave the situation, or are we going to continue to talk about it and try to influence what is happening another way. If we want to have influence, we might consider staying involved.
There are so many important conversations we need to be having in our families, business, communities, and churches. We don’t want to dismiss people. We want more people at the table, but let’s be wise in how we deal with people’s opinions and behaviors. Sometimes we need a break. Sometimes we need to give someone else a break.