Dealing with the Negative People in Our Lives

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It may be shocking, but those people who complain, whine and constantly play the victim may not even see themselves as negative. So first, the bad news – chances are they aren’t going to become more positive just by having us point out how negative they are… However, studies show that moods and behaviors are contagious so doing our best to model the behavior we would like to see in them is a great start!

How can we stay positive when surrounded by their negative energy? We can remember not to take their criticisms or complaining personally. Their negativity is about them and not about us. We don’t have to agree with their negative remarks. Instead, we can listen, perhaps make a sympathetic comment if appropriate, then change the subject, tell a positive story or find a positive response. We may also need to add an extra dose of positive interactions or moments in our day if we have to spend significant time around them. People who are negative may be that way because of their genetics, their life experiences, and/or their unmet needs for love, respect, and self-esteem. This realization can help us to be more compassionate and patient. We can also identify a few good traits to appreciate about them in such a way that they notice (and feel appreciated). If they are not used to being treated in such a positive way, it may cause them to pause and rethink their attitude. As always, interactions with negative people can be “rich material” for us to practice our strategies for staying positive. Check out my recent talk at the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation for more details.

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