Sometimes, that voice in your ear — the one that plagues you with fear, self-doubt or self-loathing — isn’t just in your head. It’s the work of a friend, family member or colleague who is negative by nature.
Their attitudes and actions can be enough to affect your mood, unless you’re prepared to protect yourself from their negativity.
Below you’ll find seven ways to maintain a hold on your positive state of mind and keep those negative forces at bay.
1. Don’t Take It Personally
One of the best ways to protect yourself against negative people is to develop a thick skin and let those insults – whether they’re intentional or not – bounce right off you. It helps to keep in mind that typically, negative people are unpleasant to others, not just to you. It’s just their nature and a main component of their personality. It’s not you; it’s them.
2. Safety in Numbers
Perhaps you don’t have time to sit down with the negative person in your life, or your relationship just isn’t good enough to try and tackle those issues together. If that’s the case, a simple way to reduce the stress and strain of engaging with them is to bring along another person when you have to talk. This strategy is particularly useful in work situations, when you can call meetings with your whole team to sort out an issue, rather than work side-by-side with the person who brings you down.
Having more personalities and ideas around is sure to lighten the mood and take the focus off how negative one group member is.
3. Don’t Respond to Trash Talk
You’ve probably heard the phrase “misery loves company.” Keep that in mind the next time your negative friend or family member goes on a complaining spree. Rather than respond with your own grievances, give a short answer, such as “OK,” or say nothing at all. If you don’t encourage the negative talk, that person might take the hint and tone it down.
4. Be a Positive Force
The best way to combat negativity is with a positive outlook. If you exude a positive presence, it just might disarm that negative Nellie. Be compassionate and engaging. Talk about good news, friends you have in common or hobbies – nothing that easily turn into a gripe session. By focusing on optimistic experiences, you can keep the conversation from turning dour.
5. Cut Down on Contact
It’s not a good feeling to feel negative, is it? When you spend time with a draining friend or family member, you will undoubtedly start to feel the same way as he or she does. An effective way to safeguard your own well-being is to cut down on the amount of time you spend together. This might be particularly hard if the person in question is someone you truly care about; however, learning to say no to hanging out or chatting will help you maintain your happiness. When the person realizes there’s an issue, maybe there will be a change.
Clearly, you can’t always avoid interacting with colleagues who bring you down. In this case, just try and practice effective time management. Set meeting time limits and bring a set of discussion points so that everything stays on schedule and on subject. No dilly-dallying with downers.
6. Focus on the Now
Keep in mind that life is not sunshine and roses all the time; negativity is sure to get to you in one way or another. Accept it as a part of life, learn from the experience and move on. Don’t dwell on it or let the comment bring you down. Look at is as a bump in the road of life, and then let it go.
7. Just Walk Away
It’s important to remember that not everyone who has a negative outlook can be, or even should be, changed of fixed. Remember, that’s not you job, it’s theirs.
For example, you might know someone who abuses drugs and alcohol, and, for this reason, exudes a negative and empty energy that brings you down. Obviously, this person isn’t aware of the impact of addictive behaviors, which include damaged relationships.
You can try to help someone, but when you feel like your advice continues to fall on deaf ears, it might be time to let that relationship go.
In what other ways do you protect yourself against negative people? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section.
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