10 Smart Ways to Respond to Negative People

Oh, to be a child again. To be able to be selfish and brutally honest and deal with people however you want to, aftermath be damned. To be irresponsible and immature because that’s your JOB, man. Children don’t have to be responsible and mature because they haven’t yet learned how.

Wishful thinking aside, I’m not a child, and chances are, if you’re reading this, neither are you. We have to deal with people appropriately, whether they light up our lives or dampen our souls. It’s important, then, to know how to deal with those soul-dampeners, those who cause destruction to our spirits.

You know who I am talking about: negative people. People who, when they come into your life, seem to put big black hole into it and suck everything around them into it.

So how do we deal with these people, then? Try one or two of these smart ways on for size:

1. Keep a Realistic Point Of View

Negative people will do their best to shake up your outlook and get you to see the world the way they do. As kind, compassionate people we try our best to accommodate these people in our lives with the hope that we might help them see another perspective. If they can’t, however, and their negativity is impacting you, it might be time to cut ties.

2. Set (Positive) Boundaries

If you maintain a positive outlook and set healthy expectations for the people in your orbit, those negative folks will just have to either start seeing things more positively or get out of your world. It’s not cruel, it’s setting boundaries, and it’s actually quite healthy for you and the naysayer.

3. Keep Your Judgments to Yourself

Or, better yet, just don’t judge at all. Everyone develops differently, and negative people seem to have gotten the short end of the stick. Being judgmental or assumptive comes across very easily in verbal and non-verbal cues, and it’s important to refrain from judging or assuming when trying to resolve a situation posed by a negative person.

4. Be Mature

It’s far too easy to stoop to childish behavior and be insulting or impulsive but remember…we’re not children anymore. It’s important that we handle these situations with respect, maturity and sensitivity.

5. Smile More

Smiling is a simple, indirect way to show a negative person that the world isn’t such a terrible place, after all. Negative people often grow up with the notion that the world is skewed or “against them” and if all else fails your smile may impress upon them that there are other ways to see the world.

6. Take some time off

Sometimes we need to separate ourselves from negative people, and that’s okay. We all have our limits and are only able to take so much. It’s important that we honor our own limitations and exit situations when necessary.

7. Show a Little Compassion

If we can attribute whatever is going on with their situation or problem at present to concrete, real-world issues -not making enough money, being underemployed, living in a lousy place or uncomfortable environment, fighting all the time with their spouse, etc.- we can generally see the situation for what it is and not extrapolate the problems beyond what’s really going on (even if they are doing just that). This gives us the ability to be kind and compassionate towards them.

8. Make sure they hear you

News flash: not every negative person is intentionally negative. If you give them the opportunity to hear your mindset and your perspective, it may bump their negativity out of the way entirely. Giving them access to your positivity by vocalizing it may nudge them out of a negative space and into a positive one.

9. Don’t rationalize their behavior

Because in general, it’s ineffective. Negative people often just want to complain and they’re in no way interested in being reasoned with; they aren’t looking so much for your compassion and constructive idealism as they are just an ear of someone who will listen.

10. Don’t take anything personally

This can be quite difficult, but if the negative person projects their problems onto you, it’s important that you don’t take it personally. I had such a situation recently: a friend mocked me and bullied me in front of 3 other mutual friends. I was doing okay with it and trying to be compassionate when he hit on a subject that was absolutely below the belt, and I lost it. I exited the situation, but I started crying and took his comments totally to heart, instead of understanding that his complaints were because he was in a bad place, not because they were right.

Taking things personally with negative people always end the same way: with you getting hurt.

I went the wrong way in this situation by taking his comments personally and it led to a protracted period of sobbing. Don’t let negative people get under your skin like that…it won’t end well for either of you. Instead, maintain some mental distance and, again, exit the situation if you need to. Preferably before they say something that may leave you in tears.

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