Everyone has that one friend (or co-worker, neighbor, relative, etc.) who just woke up on the wrong side of the bed. All the time. You say it’s a nice day, she tells you why it sucks. You tell her about your latest idea, she tells you why it won’t work. Sometimes I think people don’t even realize they’re being so negative–they may be dealing with issues of their own that come through in their interactions with others, or maybe they just find it easier to be snarky than positive. Whatever the case may be, you have to get rid of these people. When you spend too much time with them, you end up mirroring their outlook on life. While you may have been enjoying a great day, after chatting with this person you’re spewing venom just like them. It’s a dangerous thing.
I know, I know. Cutting ties is easier said than done. It’s hard to put distance between you and a friend/relative/co-worker, especially if you’ve known each other for a long time or have to see each other every day. But there’s a difference between being polite and letting that person’s negativity seep into your own, souring your day. So how do you do it?
- Change your routine: Instead of sitting through a lunch where Debbie Downer whines and complains about her troubles, critiques mutual friends, and sits and pouts, opt to do something else with that time. Go for a walk, eat with someone else, or spend some time reading instead. If she asks what’s up, you can be honest and let her know that the time you guys spent trashing other people or complaining was starting to wear you out. Don’t be rude, but don’t lie. The experience may be an eye-opening one for her, and may even lead her to change her ways.
- Keep interactions short: If you have to interact with this person, keep it short and sweet. Instead of lingering by her desk as she talks your ear off about her horrible roommate, car troubles, etc., listen for a few minutes but then explain that you have to go. You don’t need to give this person the cold shoulder entirely, but you also don’t have to let her pour her bad feelings out onto you.
- Put it in perspective: It’s easy to want to grab this Negative Nancy and shake her, telling her to snap out of it. In reality, most people who are negative ALL. THE. TIME are dealing with some bigger issues than just their dog chewing through their furniture or their mom driving them crazy. They may be facing self-esteem issues, money problems, or other concerns that are weighing heavily on them. Understand this, but don’t let this notion trick you into falling prey to their negative energy again.
- Flood them with positive thoughts: If you’re stuck in a situation where you have to associate with Miss Negative, there’s not much you can do. However, that doesn’t mean you have to succumb to the sour attitude. If she starts trashing other people and complaining, fight back with positivity. It’s going to be a challenge and you’re going to want to jump on the negative train, but resist. Just because she’s coming from a place of “hell no” doesn’t mean you have to be too. She says the food sucks? Well yours is good. She says her job sucks? Say you’re sorry to hear, and ask if there’s something you can do to help. Her boyfriend is being strange? Offer suggestions about what might be causing the iciness.
Don’t believe me that ditching negative people is important? Check out this article from The Huffington Post that talks about why surrounding yourself with happy people is a necessity.
How do you deal with Negative Nancies in your own life?