How to deal with negative people at work and in life?
I don’t know about you, but this dark and wintry weather is getting me down (and on a side note, made me super hungry ALL THE TIME!). Take me back to the sunshine and cocktails please! Can I get an Amen?
Now, I don’t pretend to be a scientist, but I am pretty confident that there must be a correlation between winter time and people feeling glum, grumpy and just plain negative. Is it the cold? Is it that there is less daylight? Maybe both. Maybe neither. Sometimes people are just negative all year round. How do we deal with that? The negativity? The happiness suckers? The people who just seem to be down no matter what the situation. How do we make sure we don’t get sucked in too?
We all have bad days. We have things going on in our lives that sometimes can impact our ability to be ‘perky’ all the time. These aren’t the people I am talking about. The people I am talking about are the seemingly 24/7 frown upside down folk. Perhaps you work with someone who complains endlessly about their job but never offers any solutions. Or, maybe you have friends who speak negatively about others in your group and just create unnecessary drama. I seem to be having a number of conversations lately about how to deal with this, so I thought maybe a blog post on it with my 2 cents was timely.
It is important to call out that mental health is a serious issue and one that I strongly advocate people seek professional support for if they ever feel they need it. However, that is not what this article is about. Negativity is also a mindset, just as positivity is. We may not always have control over the environment around us, however what we do have complete control over is how we choose to react to an environment or a situation.
Here are some tips and tricks below that I use whenever I feel like I am getting sucked into someone’s negativity bubble:
1. Lend an ear and try to understand what is going on for them – Sometimes people don’t have strong support networks, or any support network. Therefore, they have no outlet to get things off their chest –guess what then happens? It comes out in meetings, emails, or water cooler conversations. Sometimes negative people just need to feel heard – they need to air their laundry and feel like someone empathises with them. If you feel like you can do this, it might help. It also puts you in a position to then do the below.
2. Ask them for something positive – Now that you have heard what is going on for this person – ask them for something positive they can do about it to take action. Alternatively, if you find you can’t do step one, yet you are still met with regular snide remarks and negativity, use this tip as something you can put on the table. What do I mean by this? Let’s say someone has just completely downloaded a whole heap of negativity in a meeting and the tone of the meeting/catch up has taken a dive – you could lighten things up again by saying something like “Ok… well now that we’ve gotten through all the negative, there must be something positive we can do with it?”. Look to that person and wait for them to provide a response.
3. Don’t take it personally – it is not about you – This is the most important tip of all. DO NOT take other people’s negativity personally. It is not about you. It is about what is going on for them. Often when people are dealing with difficulties in their lives, those around them become the targets of their unhealthy coping strategies. Their behaviours manifest out of insecurities, fear and anger often resulting in outbursts. The most important thing you can remember is that this is about them, not you, so don’t take it personally or take it home with you.
4. Call it out if you feel you can – Sometimes people can be cynical or pessimistic by nature and this can come out as negativity. Often, they don’t even realise the impact they can have on a meeting, a conversation, or the downer they place on what was a positive moment. If you find yourself in a position with someone and they just keep putting in unhelpful or unfounded negative commentary – call it out. Get them to explain more and own what they are saying. You might find that either a) you atleast get to understand what is going on for them, or b) they are forced to own their negative commentary which might see them dial it back.
5. Be responsible for your reaction – Whether the person is negative or not, ultimately, you’re the one who is perceiving the person is negative. Be aware of this and why you are finding this person negative. Sometimes I see people who are really struggling with someone for being negative, yet others haven’t noticed it at all. That might be because of what has been triggered in your own response bank by this person.
6. Remove yourself if you need to – Looking after yourself is the most important thing you can do. If you are finding that someone’s negativity is really starting to impact you, remove yourself for a bit. This might be challenging sometimes in a work environment for you to do indefinitely, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment, an afternoon to step away and restore your good energy.
7. Without getting too “Woowoo” on you – Imagine a positivity bubble that these people cannot pierce. If you start to feel that is happening, remove yourself. Take some time out to reflect on you, your other positive relationships and what else you have going on in your life that is positive. Don’t let another person’s negativity dent your shine!
Mindset is such a powerful tool and it is so important that above all else, you look after yours and ensure you are cultivating a growth mindset and a positive mindset.
For more help on how you can do this email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and book in your free 30 minute phone consultation.
I help women get out of their own ways. I help you deal with the overthinking. The Imposter Syndrome. The self-doubt. All the things currently getting in your way of being a confident, kick a** woman in your workplace and in your life.
Keen advocate for helping you get the f*ck out of your own way!