Negative people suck the living energy out of everyone they get in contact with. Their constant complaining, exaggerations, and all-around negative energy make them extremely unpleasant to be around.
But what if they’re a long-time friend or a family member, and we just can’t cut ties with them? Is there still something we can do to cope or deal with them?
Yes, of course, and in this article, I’ll show you exactly what these strategies are.
1) Limit interaction
So, obviously, the first thing you should do is limit interaction if you can’t cut ties altogether.
Spend less time with them to safeguard your own mental and emotional well-being. If needed, make excuses not to see or visit them.
If they have such a profound negative impact on you, don’t feel sorry for not paying them enough attention.
With their behavior, they’ve made it impossible to be around, and you’re definitely not the only person avoiding them.
2) Avoid reacting emotionally
Negative people often try to provoke emotional responses. But it’s best to keep a cool head.
Respond with logic and rationality instead of getting emotionally entangled, which can help keep the situation under control.
Create emotional distance between yourself and their negativity. Remind yourself that you have control over your emotions and that their negativity doesn’t have to dictate how you feel.
3) Focus on solutions
Shift the conversation from complaining to brainstorming solutions. Encourage them to think about practical ways to address their concerns, redirecting the conversation towards positive action.
For example, if they say, “This project is a disaster. Nothing is going right.” you can respond with: “I understand you’re facing challenges. Let’s identify the specific issues and brainstorm potential solutions. We can work together to address each problem systematically.”
Or when they complain, “I can’t believe my diet failed again. I’ll never lose weight.”
Why not respond with: “I know setbacks are discouraging. Let’s discuss what aspects of the diet didn’t work and how we can adjust the plan to better suit your lifestyle and goals.”
You can also do the following:
4) Offer an unexpected compliment
Compliments have the ability to surprise and disarm. By offering a genuine compliment during a negative conversation, you disrupt their negative train of thought and open the door to a more positive exchange.
This is more powerful than you think. In the above example, where they complain about their diet failing, you can encourage them with a compliment and give them a push to continue their weight-loss journey.
5) Set boundaries
When negativity gets out of hand, clearly communicate your limits and tell them what behavior you find unacceptable.
If they cross those boundaries, calmly remind them of your boundaries and enforce consequences if necessary.
The consequences could range from not talking to them for a while to cutting ties altogether. With any luck, they’ll wise up and understand how they affect the people around them.
But I wouldn’t hold my breath that they’ll change any time soon.
6) Stay calm
When faced with negativity, maintaining your own calm demeanor prevents the situation from escalating.
Responding with a composed attitude often defuses tension and avoids unnecessary conflicts.
When they see you won’t budge an inch, they often give up and move on to something or someone else.
7) Choose your battles
Not every negative comment or situation requires a response. Evaluate whether it’s worth engaging in a discussion or if it’s better to let certain remarks slide to avoid unnecessary confrontation.
This is often harder than it sounds, as, by this point, your mind is conditioned to hear every little thing that bothers you, and you might feel the urge to jump at every occasion.
I found that this next thing helps with this.
8) Practice mindfulness
Stay present in the moment when interacting with negative people. Mindfulness is the name of the game and can help you remain grounded and prevent their negativity from affecting your emotional state.
For example, practice observing the negative person’s words and behavior without immediately judging or reacting to them.
Approach the situation with curiosity, observing their behavior as if from a neutral perspective.
Or step back mentally and take a few deep breaths. Observe your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.
Then, focus your attention on your breath, bringing your awareness back to the present moment.
9) Practice reverse psychology
Why not also try the old reverse psychology tricks? Yes, they’re common knowledge, and yes, they’re sometimes stupid, but they also work very well.
Agree with their negative statement in an exaggerated way, which might make them rethink their perspective.
For instance, if they say, “This day couldn’t get any worse,” respond with, “You’re right, it’s the absolute worst day in history.”
10) Surround yourself with positivity
If you have to be around negative individuals, make an effort to also be with people who uplift and inspire you as much as you can.
Surrounding yourself with positivity can counterbalance the effects of negativity from others.
What you’ll also realize is just how much some people can inspire and motivate you, too. This was something that happened to me when I moved to a different city and made new friends.
The difference was like night and day between the new folks and the friends I was good with since my childhood or high school.
11) Redirect conversations
Here’s another trick you can do.
Whenever a conversation takes a negative turn, steer it toward more positive subjects. That way, you’ll shift the energy and create a more enjoyable atmosphere.
Or why not redirect the conversation using thought-provoking questions that guide their focus toward positive aspects?
This strategy will encourage them to consider more optimistic viewpoints without directly challenging their negativity.
12) Offer support
If the negative person is not like that usually and they’re just going through a tough time, you should offer your support.
Sometimes, negativity simply stems from personal struggles, and your kindness might help them open up or feel better.
Let them know you’re there for them. Say, “If you ever want to talk about it, I’m here to listen and support you.”
And if relevant, share a personal experience where you faced a similar situation and how you managed to overcome it.
This can help them feel less alone and provide a sense of camaraderie.
13) Maintain perspective
Remember that their negativity often reflects their own issues and insecurities. Their comments might not necessarily be accurate reflections of you or your actions.
Plus, just because they express a negative opinion doesn’t mean it’s true. Remind yourself that their stance is subjective and doesn’t define your worth or abilities.
Recognize that negative people might have a cognitive bias towards seeing the downsides and that this bias influences their perception of situations.
In the end, recall that you have control over your own emotions. Their negativity doesn’t have to influence your mood or outlook.
14) Listen empathetically
And lastly, some negative people just want to be heard. Show genuine interest in their concerns, ask open-ended questions, and validate their feelings without necessarily agreeing with their negativity.
It’s a powerful strategy when dealing with negative people, as it allows you to connect on a deeper level and potentially shift the tone of the conversation.
Find points of common understanding or shared experiences to demonstrate your empathy. This can help build rapport and create a sense of connection.
If appropriate, point out their strengths and qualities that can help them overcome their challenges.
This can empower them and shift their focus to a more positive perspective.
And perhaps most importantly, after they’ve shared, summarize their main points to ensure you’ve understood them correctly.
This not only shows that you’ve been actively listening but also provides them with a chance to clarify any misunderstandings.
Hopefully, these practical tips can help you deal with negative people in your life. Some of them are easier to implement than others.
But the good thing about all of them is that you can combine or try them individually.