How to Cope with Negative People

December 15, 2008 at 4:46 pm 8 comments

 We all have people with whom we interact that we find to be, well, difficult.  Their sky is always falling, they incite gossip wars, tattle on others, are intolerant of everyone’s weaknesses but their own, and are just plain whiny.  You started your day pumped up and in a great mood, but within five minutes (or less) they’ve sucked your energy drier than Death Valley.  You look at your watch.  Is the day over yet?  Nope… 7 hours and 55 minutes to go.  Ouch.  This is especially difficult if you work in an intimate environment where you must interact daily and can’t possibly avoid them.  Worse, it may be someone you really like on a personal level.  So what do you DO?

1.       Before you can change how you interact, you must change how you react.  Take a good look at yourself in these situations.  How are you contributing to the problem?  Does this person see you a willing outlet for their woe?  Do you smile, nod, or even verbally indicate agreement?  Stop doing that!  You are actively inviting their negativity into your space!  Don’t encourage them.  Respond to their negativity with as much positivity as you can muster.  This will generally either show them that you are not playing for Team Whiny, or frustrate them into keeping it to themselves.  Interestingly, many negative people don’t even realize what they are doing.  They just see commiserating as a form of bonding.  By responding positively, you may just show them that there is another option.

2.       Seek the source of the negativity.  What is causing their pain?  What are they looking for?  Is there some positive way you can help?  Negative people are frequently attention starved on some level, so they attempt to draw it through sympathy.  Try giving them attention in a different way.  If the individual is a friend, greet them with a big hug, and ask them to share something about themselves that is non-negative – ask about the book they’re reading, or what their kids are doing in school.  If it’s a coworker or more formal relationship, try giving sincere compliments to demonstrate their value – it could be on their clothing, their smile, or their accomplishments.  They will likely blow this off, but repetition breed familiarity and comfort, so keep at it – it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

3.       If you feel confronting them is appropriate, adhere to the following guidelines:

a.       Address the behavior, NOT the person:  “Your negativity about this project is really pulling me down,” as opposed to “You’re so negative and you pull me down!”
b.       Cite specific examples.  “I don’t like your negativity,” will certainly not be effective, especially since they probably don’t even think of themselves as negative.  “It really bothers me when you complain    about Mary like that,” shows them exactly what the issue is.
c.       Don’t expect them to be a mind reader – be prepared to spell out what you’d like to see change.  “I would prefer you not talk to me about others behind their backs.”
d.       Request immediate feedback.  You’ve had your chance, now let them respond, and DON’T interrupt.  Their feelings are every bit as valid as your own.

4.       If you must listen to them, for whatever reason, take internal action to combat the effects of their negativity.

a.       Recognize that there is no such thing as “out there,” so this individual’s negativity is in some way a manifestation of your own feelings. 
b.       Open yourself up.  What do you have to learn from this?
c.       As they are talking, create a filter in your mind.  Ho’oponopono is an excellent technique for this (I love you, I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you.), or keep repeating silently “I love you, and I am OK.”
d.       Try Stacy’s recommendation below for letting love work its magic.  There is no stronger force!


  •  @stacyreck says:  Imagine a “Pink Box of Love.” Visually put the negative person in the box & allow the forces-that-be to send them love.
  • @leifhansen says: 1. Listen deep to whats behind the negativity (needs/pain). 2. Share vulnerably how it effects you. 3. Talk to supervisor. 

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Wishing you a passionate, prosperous, and powerful day! 

Kristy Nichols 

a.k.a. The Average Goddess

Entry filed under: Business and Career, Health, Law of Attraction, Relationships. Tags: , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Feng Shui Candace  |  December 16, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Great post. Feeding into the negativity in any way makes the situation continue on and on. They will come to you to look for the acceptance of the negativity. Stay strong and don’t encourage this behavior.

  • 2. Marilynn DeLucca  |  December 20, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I agree!! And if this is someone who you see regularly, you can actually be an influence to change their negative to positive just by always showing the positive side of the conversation or insisting the conversation stay positive. I had a VERY negative friend and by always talking about positive things and refusing to go to the negative side with her, she has now become MUCH more positive!!! You CAN influence others!!


  • 3. averagegoddess  |  December 21, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Hi Marilyn! This really is the simplest, most frictionless method for handling the situation. By responding positively, the individual is forced to see their complaint in a new light. Even if they don’t feel like agreeing with you, it does rather put an end to the conversation! I’ll hope to see you here much more in the future!

  • 4. averagegoddess  |  December 21, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Hi Feng Shui! Absolutely – any sign of acceptance, and they will continually come to you to vent their garbage… just what you DON’T want!!

  • 5. Laura Cirra  |  December 29, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Just passed this on…Keep it “up” Kristy 😉

    • 6. averagegoddess  |  December 30, 2008 at 11:38 am

      Thanks a million Laura! I’m on it! 😀

  • 7. Mark Nolan  |  January 10, 2009 at 7:16 am

    Awesome advice on how to turn a negative into a positive. Like I been sayin’ … you’re my favorite goddess.

    Mark Nolan

  • 8. PaintandSoul  |  January 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    I’m not as negative as the stereotype you talked about of the negative person (though I think we all know someone who is) but I worry because I do this sometimes. I want to try some of these tactics on myself perhaps and see how this goes….


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