Have you ever wondered or wished you could better deal with people who constantly whine, blame or complain when you speak to them?
In our daily interactions, we encounter people who spend so much energy focusing on things that are not going well or on things that are beyond their control. The risk of being around negative people is that they can:
- Affect our attitude.
- Cause us to spend mental and emotional energy listening to their complaints.
- Take our focus away from what we want to do.
- Lower our motivation levels.
- Affect the quality of our work.
Knowing what to do when we’re around people who tend to be negative is extremely valuable. It’s starts with us being aware of our own attitude, the language we are using and what we’re giving our attention to.
Many years ago, when I was in my corporate career, I used to carpool with a colleague to and from work. Each trip was around forty-five minutes and unfortunately, most of our conversations weren’t focused on the positive things at work.
We tended to vent our frustrations of the issues we faced at work, such as being expected to produce the same volume of product with less staff, or having to cut costs without compromising safety or quality. On the rare occasion, we focused on something that had gone right at work.
It would have been better for both of us, in terms of our mental, emotional and physical energy levels, if we focused on what we could do better to improve the situation at work or not talk about work. As much as it’s hard to admit, our attitude in the car played out in our interactions with other employees at work. Had I known better, I would have done things differently and chosen to have a more positive attitude.
5 Ways to Deal With Negative People
- Don’t fuel their negativity. We have to watch our reaction first. Oftentimes people who like to blame or complain look for validation from others so we have to be careful not to buy into their drama. Most people will run out of steam after about twenty minutes. Sometimes the best thing is to just be quiet.
- Resist the temptation to judge. Instead of judging them, we can try and look at things from their perspective. A lot of times, people who are negative are not aware of how they are behaving or how they are coming across to others. One way to release some of the tension or negative energy is to give them a compliment or say something that can make them smile.
- Redirect their focus to something positive. People get into a pattern of focusing on the same things and behaving the same way, so it’s beneficial to break or interrupt their pattern by getting them to focus on something positive. Once their pattern is interrupted, it will take a lot more effort to go back to being negative rather than continuing to focus on what’s positive.
- Introduce new boundaries. We can make them aware of their behaviour by asking questions such as, “Are you aware you’re not being very productive at the moment?” or “Is focusing on the things you think are wrong giving you what you want?” Alternatively, you can say, “I’d prefer if you do not blame or complain to me if it does not concern me or if it’s not something I can do anything about.”
- Limit the time you spend with them. This can be extremely challenging especially if the negative people are loved ones or those we are close to. In those situations, getting them to focus on positive things and how they can make a difference will help. With other negative people, if they’re not willing to adjust their behaviour, then it’s up to us as to how much time we choose to spend with them. As we tend to become like the people we spend most of our time with, it will only help us if we spend less time with them.
We all have negative tendencies, some more than others. It’s our responsibility to control our attitude and also who we choose to spend time with. The better we become at dealing with those who are negative, the less stressed or emotionally drained we will be, which means we’ll give more attention to the things we can control and the things that matter.
Action Step: Next time you’re around someone you think is being negative, redirect their focus to something positive and see how they respond. Continue making them aware of their behaviour, if it’s appropriate, in order to protect your mental and emotional energy.
Question: What is something else we can do to deal with negative people in our lives?
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