There is little difference in people,

but that little difference makes a big difference.

The little difference is attitude.

The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.

W. Clement Stone

It is a real challenge trying to deal with negative people. All the complaining and ‘doom and gloom’ talk can really drain your energy and patience. At the end of even a 15-minute conversation with these people, it can feel like all of the life has been sucked right out of you.

The good news is you can lessen the effects of their negativity by coming up with a plan to deal with this challenge.

1. Be objective. It is very important not to take the negative person’s comments personally. Recognize that they are just pessimistic most of the time and they generally have an unhelpful perspective about most things. They become so absorbed by their negative thoughts that they have a hard time remembering to be tactful.

In reality, you may even feel a little sorry for them. Aren’t you happy that you don’t carry the same heavy negative attitude around in your life? And, it becomes difficult to be upset with someone when you feel sorry for them.

2. Try to keep the conversation light, or as light as possible. It can be very helpful to steer the conversation to lighter topics, like the weather, movies, or sports to keep things from getting too intense. Some people simply enjoy feeling the emotional intensity that comes from being negative about everything and everyone.

3. Avoid rewarding negative talk. Sometimes we inadvertently encourage the negative person by being too supportive.

Do not engage fully in the conversation when someone is being overly critical or negative. Instead, be enthusiastic and supportive of them when they are being positive. Keep your responses and attention to a minimum when the negative talk begins to pick up.

4. Try not to be alone with them. You won’t feel the full force of the abuse when there are others to share the grief. Plus, the negative talker will usually be less intense when he doesn’t have the undivided attention of a single person.

It’s also much easier to excuse yourself from the conversation because you don’t feel like such a critical part of the interaction.

5. Limit your exposure to the venom. Make a concerted effort to limit the amount of time you spend with them. Every positive and negative experience in your life has some effect on you. So take care of yourself and avoid spending more time with them than you need to.

6. Be a positive influence. You might be able to help the person feel more optimistic by being a positive influence in their life. If you think they are simply lonely, maybe you could get a group together and all go out for dinner. Or maybe you could suggest a hobby for them to try. See if you can identify a specific cause for their negativity and then assist where and when you can.

7. Remove them. Finally, if all of your efforts fail to bring about a change, you need to eliminate them from your life. Especially if you tend to be kind-hearted, you will want to save this option as your last resort. Sometimes we have people in our lives that don’t have to be there, and it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense to work to maintain the relationship if that relationship only brings you negativity.

Negative people are a fact of life and something that we all must deal with from time to time. These strategies can help you keep their negative effects on your life to a minimum.

What methods have you found effective in trying to push back the negative energy of other people?

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