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Dealing with Negative People, Pt. 2

Submitted by on April 12, 2011 – 11:02 pmNo Comment

Tips To Deal With Negative People In Your Life

Don’t Argue

One of the most important things I learned is not to debate with a negative person. A negative person likely has very firm views and isn’t going to change that just because of what you said. Whatever you say, they can personally justify their rationalizations  to come up with different reasons to back up their point of view. I don’t know what it is, but with some negative people it seems to be more about being right.  So if you get into a heated argument chances are the discussion will spiral into more negativity, and you will go down in the process. Giving constructive comments seems to work as for not making things worse, just don’t engage them further by telling them how wrong their view is.


Have you ever been upset and then have someone tell you to “relax”? How’d that feel? Did you relax or did you feel even more worked up?

People who are negative (or upset for that matter) benefit more from an empathetic ear than suggestions/solutions on what they should do. By helping them to deal with their emotions, the solutions will come to them. When we’re negative, upset, stressed, etc., the neuropathways in our brain become constricted (also, research in kinesiology supports we become physically weaker when negative).   As a result our focus becomes narrow and our ability to think clearly and solve problems is limited.  When we calm down, the neuropathways open up and allow our thinking to become more creative in our problem solving abilities.  I believe most people can solve their problems; they have just gotten into the habit of letting the crap in their life take priority.

A Helping Hand

Babies cry to get attention.  Some people complain as a way of crying for help. This may seem odd to you, but for some this is the way they learned to communicate.  Some may call it a form of passive-aggressiveness. They may not be conscious of it, so their comments come across as complaints rather than requests.  None the less, try to see what’s behind the complaint.  What does this person really want? What would satisfy them? Try to lend a helping hand. Just a simple “Are you okay?” or “Is there anything I can do to help you?” can do wonders.

Light Topics

Some negative people are “triggered” (oooh that word says so much) by certain topics. Take for example: One of my friends sinks into a self-victimizing mode whenever we talk about his work. No matter what I say (or don’t say), he’ll keep complaining once we talk about work.

Our 1st instinct with negative people should be to help bring them to a more positive place (i.e. steps #2 and #3). But if it’s clear that the person is stuck in their negativity, the unhappiness may be too deeply rooted to address in one conversation for you to help unravel it. Try to lighten the mood by bringing in a new topic; keep it simple and light—maybe talk about new movies, daily events, friends in common, etc. Let your instincts guide you to a positive conversation.

Ignore Negative Comments

For me, this can be a tough one.  I have a tendency to ask “Why?”.  “Why are you wasting your energy on comments that you KNOW will lead nowhere?”  Actually I don’t say this out loud.  It kinda sprints across my brain for a moment.  One way to help the negative person “get it” is to ignore the negative comments. If they go into a negative dive, ignore or give a simple “I see” or “Ok” reply. On the other hand, when they are being positive, reply in affirmation and enthusiasm. Do this often and soon they will know optimism and positivity pays off. They will adjust to be more positive for that reason.


Recognition and Praise

Negative people are…negative—inside and out.   They are negative to others as well as themselves. You may have moments of negativity, imagine how they must feel all the time. What this person needs is some positive light in their lives. 

I know, I know…it can be hard to be positive to someone when you are being bombarded by their chronic negativity.  I can almost feel awkward or uncomfortable to be optimistic or positive with a person which feels the opposite of your good intentions.  It can sometimes feel like you are insulting their chosen outlook on life.  Believe it or not, you may be just what this person needs to widen their outlook on life…to see the silver lining.  Recognition is the number one human need. Recognize some positive things and praise him or her for them. What are they good at? What do you like about the person?  They may be surprised at first and might reject the compliment, but on the inside they will feel good and this can breed a positive attitude in the long run.

Hang Out In Groups

Having someone else in the conversation works wonders in easing the load.  In a 1-1 communication all the negativity will be directed towards you. Besides the old adage of ‘strength in numbers’ applying and the person maybe feeling more challenged in voicing their negative perspective, with someone else in the conversation you don’t have to bear the full brunt of possible negativity. This way you can focus more on doing steps #1 (Empathizing) and #2 (Helping the person).

Be Aware of Your Reaction

Research does show that humans are compassionate by nature.  Be aware if you are having a bad day and if it’s you sometimes projecting how you might be feeling onto the other person.  Be aware of your own perception, first.   It could be the negativity is the product of your lens. Take responsibility for your perceptions.   Anaïs Nin once said “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Every mannerism, peculiarity and characteristic can be interpreted in a positive and a negative manner.  Where a situation goes is really up to you.  Learn to see the goodness of the person than the negative.  The main thing is to be sincere.  It may be a little uncomfortable for you in the beginning, but once you work on this skill, encouraging others really does feel good.  And this is when it becomes second nature.

Reduce Contact or Avoid Them

A while back I had to cut ties with one of my closest friends.  Her negativity was really affecting my outlook on life.  Thank God I was aware enough to do something about it.  If it feels unhealthy—mind, body and/ or spirit, chances are…it is.  I stopped communicating with her for almost six months.  If all else fails reduce contact with whomever it is that is bringing you down, or avoid them altogether. If it’s a good friend, let them know how their attitude is affecting you and maybe others and work it out where possible.  Your time and energy is limited on this planet. Positivity is energizing.  The Universe fills everything with life for a reason.

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