It is a sad fact of life that negative people exist everywhere you go. Sometimes you will have to deal with a negative, pessimistic, or downright rude person when you least expect. You may even be forced to spend a long time with that person, such as at a dinner party or on a flight. However, there are ways of dealing with such people which minimize the impact on your life and wellbeing.
First of all it is vital to realize that a person’s negativity is their problem. As much as they might try to criticize your life and project bad feeling onto you and your circumstances, it is not really about you. This person has issues which may stretch right back to their childhood and their behavior could be seen as a cry for help. Attention seeking is a common tactic of negative people as they try to compensate for their dissatisfaction with the world and with their own lives. If you don’t know the person well it can be difficult to work out how deep the problem goes or why they are behaving as they are. Don’t worry – you know it’s not about you and therefore you can keep an emotional distance from this person and their opinions.
Secondly, do not invest your time and energy in negative people. Sure, you may have to sit next to them at a dinner party, but this doesn’t mean that you have to take on board their ideas. Imagine that you are wearing impenetrable armor and that all of their pessimistic and cynical views are bouncing off harmlessly. You can be polite and brief in your responses, nothing more. If you feel that you need to disagree with something they are saying, by all means state your opinion calmly and firmly. One of two things could happen: the person could acknowledge your point, or you could get in to a potentially uncomfortable debate because they are so stuck in their negative mindset that nothing you say will help soften their opinion. It’s important to know when and with whom to pick your battles; if you have only just met the person, it’s not worth getting into a difficult discussion.
If you have to spend prolonged periods of time with a negative person, such as a work colleague, make sure you minimize the time you are together. It’s useful to have an agenda in your mind; for example, you can discuss something specific and important with your colleague and then leave them straightaway. Family members can be more difficult, but even then there are ways you can keep your time together to a minimum. It’s always useful to have a distraction such as a daytrip somewhere, a board game or even the television. During these experiences make sure you focus on your own enthusiasm, as this can rub off on those around you. The less attention you direct towards the negative person, the less affect they will have on everyone.
Negative people can be extremely manipulative and can try to provoke you into a reaction by looking for your weaknesses. If you sense that this is happening, remove yourself from the situation immediately – this may be the one time you have to be very firm and let the person know that you do not want to continue the conversation. This is your right as a human being and shows the person that you are strong and that you have self respect.
With these strategies you will not let negative people drain you emotionally and you will not sink to their level as a way of coping. Avoid spending time with these people and if you have no choice, put on that armor and stay true to yourself and your beliefs.