How to deal with negative people

How to deal with negative people
How to deal with negative people

Negative people are the black holes of human society. Who hasn’t experienced that negative friend, colleague or co-worker who complains endlessly about other people, their jobs, their lives and anything else they can think of? That pervading sense of unease, pessimism, distrust and fatalism is potentially very damaging. It can really sap your energy if someone you know is constantly negative, sharing the drama of their lives, without ever offering any solutions to their countless problems.

It is difficult to shake off the negativity, but the energy created can be destructive, so you need to find ways of dealing with negative people. Here’s a few ideas that may help.

Avoid them

Yes, it’s pretty obvious. You may feel guilty about doing so, but avoiding people who bring you down is the single best tactic for keeping your own positivity intact. Negative people will knock your ideas, and suck you dry like an energy vampire. All of your own good intentions will fly out of the window, so when you see them, swerve!

Create boundaries

If you absolutely have to have contact with a negative person, create your own boundaries. Give them five minutes of time and then politely excuse yourself. Another useful tactic is to listen to what they have to say, but once they start repeating themselves, again, take your leave. Don’t become involved. Just listen politely, nod and make a non-committal comment. Then be on your way.

Understand them

If the negative person who brings you down is someone close to you, you may decide you want to try and understand their perspective on life. There are three basic reasons why people are negative. There are:

  • A fear of being disrespected by others
  • A fear of not being loved by others
  • A fear that “bad things” will happen.

These fears often combine and a negative person will think the world is a dangerous place and people are horrible. They begin to misread situations and interpret even well-meaning comments in a perverse way. They will have a thin skin, are afraid of judgement and may well be risk averse. Understanding where the negativity stems from, may help you deal with the situation better.

The trick is to be compassionate – understand they have issues, but don’t take those on yourself. Don’t lecture them, don’t advise them, and don’t make suggestions. If you do any of these things, you may find it can backfire spectacularly.

Be a friend

If you have a negative friend who you know is struggling, don’t wait for their negativity to manifest itself in irritation, anger or outbursts, try and bolster their spirits every time you see them, but without dispelling copious amounts of your own energy. Offer a compliment, remind them of something they did well, or a happy memory. Remember though, don’t engage them in a diatribe of their negativity.

Avoid being controlled

Some negative people feel the need to control the behaviour of others, and so will call people out on what they eat, what they wear, how they behave etc. Be polite and firm and make your own choices. You can gently tell them that you disagree, but don’t waste your time getting into an argument.

Don’t over think the situation

Negative people often behave and think irrationally. There is very little point in wasting your own time and energy trying to understand their actions. Limit your own amount of emotional investment in whatever is annoying them.

Consider how others will see your own reaction

You may well be surrounded by numerous people who irritate you. Far better to choose the battles you become involved in, rather than biting at every opportunity. If you are constantly irritated, people will see you as a problem, perhaps they will think of you as a negative and argumentative person. The best thing to do in many situations is to walk away. People will respect you more if you just shrug it off.

Build up your own positive network

To counter negativity among colleagues etc., why not build up a network of contacts and colleagues who are quite the reverse? Have coffee with people who really cheer you up, and use positive people as support for when others are bringing you down. Use their objectivity to cast fresh light on a situation.

Take ownership of your own feelings

The negative person is triggering you in some way. Sure, they are annoying, but something is also amiss with you. By being irritated you are judging, blaming and criticizing (rightly or wrongly). Is your reaction an overreaction? Can you shift your focus to what is positive about the negative person? Are you willing to try?

Finally - Be the shining light you want others to be

You can’t demand of others what you are not prepared to be yourself, so for the sake of your own happiness and wellbeing, set a positive example and remain upbeat and optimistic. This can sometimes be extremely off-putting to those of a negative bent, and you may find they naturally start to avoid contact with you!


Marie Pure

Other articles


12 reasons to go for your goal right now

12 reasons to go for your goal right now

It's important to find a good moment to go four your goals. Not a better moment than now, find our tips to do so here! 

Read the complete article

How to know when to say no

How to know when to say no

It's often difficult to say no, but some people never do! So how do you know when to say no and when to say yes?

Read the complete article

10 Tips to get the best out of every day

10 Tips to get the best out of every day

When we’re stuck in a bit of a rut, the days and nights slip past so quickly that we barely notice them. But life is not a rehearsal!

Read the complete article

Dealing with British Summer Time

Dealing with British Summer Time

Some people are overly sensitive to the time change and it can take days, if not weeks, for them to feel right again, while others barely even notice. 

Read the complete article

Qué hacer cuando uno se siente perdido en la vida

What to do when feeling lost in life?

What to do when feeling lost in life? Read some tips about what to do when feeling lost in life or when you don't know what to do with your life here!

Read the complete article

Are most people good or bad

Are most people good or bad?

Do you sometimes despair about humanity because it seems there are far more bad people than good? Are we primarily selfish individuals, thinking only about our own needs? Or is this cynical belief just because we spend so much time online? The truth is more complicated!

Read the complete article

Are you stuck in a rut

Are you stuck in a rut?

Sometimes it’s hard to notice when we've become trapped in familiar routines. Take our quiz to find out if you’re stuck in a rut and what you can do about it.

Read the complete article

Taming your busy mind

Taming your busy mind

Is it possible to achieve inner calm when you have an untidy, noisy mind? It takes practice. Try our helpful tips for taming your busy mind here. 

Read the complete article

Find out if you're suffering from imposter syndrome

Find out if you're suffering from imposter syndrome

Do you sometimes feel your achievements are not the result of your hard work and skill but are just luck? And do you fear that one day, someone will reveal you as an imposter or fraud? You might have imposter syndrome!

Read the complete article

Stop procrastinating right now and do something!

Stop procrastinating right now and do something!

Read some tips to get the challenge you're thinking about out of the way. Now is the time to do something, you can start right now. Read on to know more!

Read the complete article

Free personal advice for your problem?

Are you unsure which Bach flowers can help you? Contact Tom for free advice.

tom vermeersch
Tom Vermeersch

Yes, I want free advice

No thanks, I will do my own research