No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive people, it’s inevitable that a person with not-so-great energy comes into our lives at one point or another. And in that moment, we have to ask ourselves: What’s the best way to deal with negative people?
As with most things in life, there isn’t one “right” way to go about dealing with someone who has a negative attitude. But too much negativity can be toxic — if we’re constantly surrounded by it, it can be hard to maintain a positive mindset.
For example, imagine you have a coworker who complains about the job you both share nonstop. Maybe before this person came into your life, you liked your job just fine. But thanks to this person’s negative commentary, suddenly you’re dreading going to work and read into everything that happens. That’s a normal response to negativity, but it can really drag you down over time.
So, what’s the best way to deal with negative people? Here are seven tips to help you get started.
One of the most important things you can do with a negative person is set boundaries. You don’t have to completely cut them out of your life (and in some cases that’s not possible) but setting some healthy boundaries can be tremendously helpful. For example, if you have a family member who constantly makes negative comments, do your best to limit how much time you spend with them. If they text or call often, remember that you don’t always have to respond — it’s perfectly fine to let them know that you’re busy and that you’ll respond when you have time.
Be open about how their negative behavior and commentary makes you feel
This one is easier said than done, but letting someone know that their negativity is dragging you down can be incredibly effective. The negative person may realize they need to work on adopting a more positive mindset, or at the very least filter their negative comments when they’re around you. We don’t all have an easy time with confrontation, but as long as you avoid blaming them (that doesn’t end well!), sometimes it can be the fastest way to make a real change.
To be clear, we’re not pushing toxic positivity here — in some situations, there is no “looking on the bright side,” and telling someone to stay positive no matter what just isn’t fair. But there’s no harm in introducing some positivity, if only for the sake of your own mental health. Try phrases like, “I see how that’s really tough. But how can we reframe the narrative?” or “That sounds really challenging. What can you do for yourself today that will help you feel better?”
Invite them to go for a walk or engage in some other sort of movement with you
Again, maintaining boundaries is key when you’re dealing with negative people, so if you want to skip this one, that’s fine! But chances are, the negative person in your life is dealing with some sort of mental health struggle — happy people rarely complain all the time. While you may not feel comfortable suggesting therapy, regular exercise has a proven positive impact on mental health, so inviting them to move with you in some way, even if it’s just a walk around the block, may help them start to look at life in a more positive way.
Do your own mental work to stay strong and positive around them
While it might not feel fair, sometimes the best way to deal with a negative person is to do your own mental work so their negativity doesn’t overwhelm you. A regular meditation practice can be a great starting point, because it helps you stay more neutral and less reactive around the negative person. Or simply adopting phrases or affirmations like “I will stay positive in this person’s presence” can be helpful, too.
Take deep breaths
Deep breathing is an excellent tool in any situation, but especially around a negative person. As you hear them make negative comments, take deep breaths before responding or reacting to them. That way, you can have more measured responses to their negativity — and you may find that it doesn’t impact you as much.
Check in with someone who is close to them
If you have mutual friends (or family members) with the negative person in your life, check in with someone else who is close to them. While vent sessions can be helpful, they can become toxic quickly, and venture into gossip territory. Instead, ask them if they have any tips for coping with this person, or how they stay positive when that person is being negative.While it’s never fun to deal with negative people, there’s a lot you can do to stay positive and mentally sane around them. Want more personal growth tips? Check out this article on 8 ways to trust the process for deeper personal growth.