We all have a person in our lives who is negative most of the time. They can be tiring and draining to be with, but for whatever reason, we have to spend time with them. They can be our colleague, friend’s partner, partner’s friend or a family member. But how do you deal with negative people without letting it drain you?
In short, there are 5 things you can do when dealing with negative people.
- Drown them out
- Avoid whenever possible
- Put yourself in their shoes – empathy
- Mirror exercise – projection
- Be happy
- Be grateful
- don’t try to make them happier
It can be really hard to deal with negative people, as it is in our genetic makeup to want to be liked. Therefore we don’t want it to seem as if we don’t like other people, because that might reflect poorly on us. But if you are suffering because you are spending time with someone who is complaining, always angry, judging other people (or even worse, you), and routinely brings you down, what are you to do?
1. Avoid whenever possible
The most obvious way to deal with negative people is to not spend time with them, and avoid them as much as possible. Walk away from them, and leave them for who they are. Naturally, this is easy to do with people you don’t have much of a relationship with. But it’s much harder to do with people you have to spend time with. Like that colleague or family member.
2. Drown them out or ignore them
If you can’t avoid them, can you ignore them? Letting them ramble on in their own negative cocoon might be one of the most effective ways to deal with negative people. Granted, this also takes some energy, but definitely less than engaging with it.
People who are very negative usually like to be negative with other people. This is a great example of ‘misery loves company’. So when you don’t engage with it, it becomes less ‘fun’ for them and they’ll likely stop bothering you with it.
According to this website, a good way to stop their complaints could be to ask how they’re going to fix the problem. it’s meant to focus on action and positivity, and the realization that they have power over this situation.
Keep in mind that these two options could cause other people see you as anti-social or rude, so that’s a choice you have to make.
3. Put yourself in their shoes – empathy
One trick I use when I have to deal with negative people is to try and understand where they’re coming from. Probably something(s) have happened in their lifes that made them view the world this way, or react to a situation in this way. Instead of being angry or upset with them, try to understand where they’re coming from.
If you know them well, you can even ask them why they think something or view it that way. Not to argue with them and tell them how stupid it is, but to see their point of view and try to understand it.
4. Mirror exercise – projection
Often, we get annoyed by behaviour in other people because it is something we don’t like about ourselves. So when you are around someone who has an attitude you don’t like, take a look at yourself. Do you also sometimes show this behaviour? Do you engage in negative talk or gossip? Are you complaining a lot?
When you notice behaviour in others that you don’t like, always take a moment to reflect on your own behaviour, and look for similarities. This can either help you understand them and forgive them for being who they are because you also engage in this behaviour, or it can remind you that you also engage in this behaviour, therefore you want to improve yourself.
5. Be happy
No matter what you do, don’t let them affect you. Be as happy as you usually are, or maybe even a little happier. Positivity always trumps negativity, like love always trumps hate. Don’t let them spoil your good mood or day.
If you are with a group, walk away from them and spend more time with people with a better attitude. Focus on the positive things surrounding you.
6. Be grateful
Be grateful for your own personal growth and your personal attitudes. Spending a lot of time with negative people reminded me that I used to be a very negative person, and I am grateful that I have made a conscious effort to change that.
I feel much better now and noticed that my life is a lot more fun as well. I am grateful for that, and I see negative people as a reminder for that gratitude. I cannot imagine living with that heavy burden of negativity, so I appreciate my own positivity even more.
7. Don’t try to make them happier
This might sound strange because it is probably your instinct to try and cheer them up. But the harsh truth is, a lot of people want to feel that way. They have decided they want to be in a bad mood, and trying to cheer them up will most likely end up being frustrating to both of you.
For a lot of people, if anything goes wrong, it is the easiest way to blame the world or a another person and focus their anger/frustration/negativity on that.
Usually, it will end up in an argument that no one will win, and it’s really a lose-lose situation. It will make your day even worse, and suck the joy out of everything. If they want to be negative nancy, just let them be.
Only try to cheer them up when they indicate they want to feel better.
So I hope at least one of these 7 tips will help you deal with negative people in your life. It can be hard, but it is so important to protect ourselves around them. Don’t be afraid to spend less time with them if possible.
If you liked reading this article you might also enjoy my posts on being kind to yourself, how to stop your need for external validation, positive self-talk or this simple trick to be happier. If you want, you can even direct the negative people here, maybe it’ll help them!