How to Deal With Negative People Who Bring You Down

Negative people are an unfortunate fact of life but we can learn to react to them in ways that protect our self-esteem and sanity. Here's how.

from ThirdAge.com
Dealing with Negative People© iStockphoto/ThinkstockWhen every interaction's an ordeal, deal with negativity strategically.

Negative people are an unfortunate fact of life. Whether it’s the coworker who is always complaining about the company or the sister whose judgmental remarks make every visit an ordeal, they drive us nuts. Here’s the bad news: we’re not going to change them. But we can learn to react to them in ways that protect our self-esteem as well as our sanity.

So we’ve gathered some great tips for you:

Steer the conversation in a neutral direction.

Talk about books, movies, celebrities — anything that will stop the complaining or snarking.

If a person is talking about a specific problem (the high cost of medical care, the amount of work she has to do), just listen to her and try to understand how she feels. If you want, ask if there’s anything you can do to help, but only if it won’t drain you.

Don’t argue. That just draws you into the cycle of negativity. Complainers are likely to think that you’re trying to talk them out of feeling angry, and that can make them even angrier. You can just say “Okay” or “I understand,” and switch the subject. That can make them angry, too, but at least you’re not spending your energy arguing.

Reduce contact with them, or eliminate it altogether. Not every problem has a solution, and it could be that the complainer just wants to hang on to her negative feelings, no matter how illogical that is. If that’s the case, she needs a lot more than a sympathetic ear. She needs therapy!

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  • Your Comments

    • locogirl4

      negative people are there to test your limits to try and know you off the rail don’t let them.Keep your sanity

    • locogirl4

      that is real good advice ill bare it in mind

    • jessica

      i don’t generally complain to random people. i do, however, complain to my family about a situation i am in or how stressed out my children sometime make me or about a particular stressful situation at the moment… i do this because i need to talk to someone to work my problems out. i don’t do this because i am negative or am trying to bring them down. i just need someone to talk to. is this article saying you should never talk about your problems? that you should pretend you don’t have them? every time i do bring up my problems at the moment to my family (like a very stressful day with my kids) i am met with yelling, screaming, putting down, and told that my feelings don’t matter and how they don’t want to hear it. it has caused me to shut down and not open up about anything to my family. i think this article is great when you are met with a very negative person that is not your family, but i don’t think i could react this way to an immediate family member. i think it would show that you aren’t validating their feelings or their problems and ignoring them. i would never feel comfortable walking up to a coworker or a friend and start complaining though!

      • dr phil

        you are trying to justify your behavior right now. You are also complaining to lots of other people other than your family. maybe your kids dont act mature because they dont have a mature role model

    • T A Ramesh

      surely negative people need therapy and it is always best to avoid them as far as possible!

    • https://me.yahoo.com/a/x3z1GVEAlJQ_Pk3MXn4SNI1yY4vT99BXzpFhmg--#50396 Marilyn

      I am tired of dealing with certain people, whom no matter what you do for them, they are never satisfied.  It seems they look for faults in everything you do, and its like walking on egg shells around them.  I have come to the place of letting go,  from bending over backwards for certain people.  Tired of waiting for them to call, while you wonder what it is that you supposedly did wrong this time.  When you inquire on their history you find out, that they were the way they are now, and always will be, –before you were ever around and in the picture. Nothing is more liberating to finally once and for all, – let go of the deep emotional wounds, and their power to bring tears of bewilderment along with the  pain of rejection.  I am finally at blissful peace and can see the real beauty and kindness of my friends and other family members.  I am happily moving forward in a positive, healing and wonderful path.

    • https://me.yahoo.com/a/x3z1GVEAlJQ_Pk3MXn4SNI1yY4vT99BXzpFhmg--#50396 Marilyn

      I am tired of dealing with certain people, whom no matter what you do for them, they are never satisfied.  It seems they look for faults in everything you do, and its like walking on egg shells around them.  I have come to the place of letting go,  from bending over backwards for certain people.  Tired of waiting for them to call, while you wonder what it is that you supposedly did wrong this time.  When you inquire on their history you find out, that they were the way they are now, and always will be, –before you were ever around and in the picture. Nothing is more liberating to finally once and for all, – let go of the deep emotional wounds, and their power to bring tears of bewilderment along with the  pain of rejection.  I am finally at blissful peace and can see the real beauty and kindness of my friends and other family members.  I am happily moving forward in a positive, healing and wonderful path.

    • Bleedinglove2543

      this is certainly not helpful. your common sense can tell you this. the author can do better than this. this just came out of the author’s mouth without thoughts that this subject could be helpful to a lot of people. It should have been filled with medical research or useful facts. shame…

      • Renee

        Hmm. They did a great job. You are not being positive