How to Deal With Negative People (Seven Steps to Handle the Miserable People in Your Life)
Do you ever feel distressed after being around other people?
This might be because the people you are with have negative attitudes. Human happiness largely depends on the quality of relationships because we are chiefly social creatures.
In fact, there is evidence of our social nature everywhere. Why do you think falling in love is one of the most treasured experiences, and why isolation has been said to be one of life’s most taxing experiences?
Because of our social nature, it can be extremely difficult to handle negative people who kill your mood with their pessimism, negativity, and suspicion.
How about that friend who always discourages you from reaching your goals because “most people can't do that,” or that constant warning against trying something new because it is "too risky?"
Also, think about when you are constantly hearing negative judgments regarding other people. Exposure to this negativity can have a major impact on your overall sense of positivity, and lead you to become negative or distrustful yourself.
Alternatively, if you are constantly around positive people, you are more likely to feel positive about the world and the people around you.
If you want to increase your overall life satisfaction, then it is in your best interest to learn how to handle the negative people in your life.
Here, we will cover a seven-step process for overcoming the negative, miserable people you frequently encounter in your day-to-day existence.
1. Identify people with negative personality traits.
It is important to learn how to identify people who frequently show a variety of negative personality traits. Here are some signs that may tell you someone is a negative person:
They are always complaining.
Negative people whine a lot, and are often convinced that the world is working against them. They can always find something to complain about, whether it be nasty weather, responsibilities at work, or just mere bad luck.
They aren't able to step back and take a look at other factors, like having a lack of energy or having to do hard work.
They have a negative view of the world.
They never look for the good in the world. Albert Einstein reportedly once said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
People who are negative can never see the miracles in the world.
They expect the worst from life.
Negative people thrive on anticipating the worst. This mindset of constant worry is geared toward a need to constantly feel protected and alert.
They likely figure that, if they expect the worst, they will not be disappointed when they get it.
They are always victims.
Everyone may whine for a minute if something goes wrong, but after a bit of grief time, most of us can pull ourselves together and renegotiate what we want in ways that are more in line with reality.
This temporary state of self-pity is nothing compared to how negative people tend to feel. Negative people often seem familiar with crises, traumas, or illnesses because they are used to assuming that life is a fight that you always lose.
If you have the mentality of a perpetual victim, you avoid having any hopes become crushed.
They have thin skin and are easily insulted.
Negative people are likely to be overly sensitive to criticism, and can even turn a compliment into an insult.
They often interpret innocent remarks as being rude, when, in the same situation, a positive person would not overanalyze the comment.
They are never upbeat or positive.
A negative person misses out on the positive things in life. They hardly recognize joy, passion, or excitement because they rarely experience these emotions or sensations.
When they are fixated on their unsatisfying lives, jobs, and relationships, it is hard to be upbeat or positive.
They are a source of constant complaints.
A complaint refers to a circumstance in one's life that they wish were different. This could be something small, like a misplaced set of keys, or something bigger, like being mistreated by a boss.
Even if a complaint is justified, it still means that we are not getting our way. Negative people often feel like they are never getting their way, so they have a lot of things to complain about.
They cannot see that their complaining is adding to their dissatisfaction with life.
Everyone else is wrong. They are the only people who are ever right.
Seriously, how can everyone else be so stupid all the time? Between co-workers, clients, and even friends, negative people often feel like the only intelligent people on earth.
What they don't see is that if everyone around them is always wrong and they can hardly handle it, the problem likely lies within them.
People are smart—not everyone, but a good amount of them. Negative people don't realize that they are not the smartest people in the world.
They have bad reputations because of their attitudes.
Other people begin to pick up on the attitudes of negative people. Usually, it isn't too hard to realize that someone never has anything positive to say.
This can quickly develop a reputation, which can have adverse consequences for the negative person.
They are rarely loving.
Why would they be? They struggle to see the good in other people, so it is probably difficult to be loving and supportive of anyone.
They love to dwell on bad news.
Negative people love approaching others and mentioning the most recent terrible news. The problem here is that overexposure to negative news affects a person more deeply than was previously thought.
Research has shown that media exposure to violence and tragedy contributes to depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It can strongly influence a negative person’s outlook on life.
They use the word “but” a lot.
A negative person may slip out a positive comment now and then, giving you hope that they are happy living in the moment for once. But before you take a sigh of relief, you will likely hear them say, “But”—which will quickly turn their positive comment into a negative one. You may hear something like “It was a good restaurant, but it was way too noisy.”
They achieve little in life.
Not every low-achieving person is negative, but negativity can certainly lead to low achievement. Negative people see themselves as being not smart enough, not strong enough, or just not good enough overall.
But it is often their emotional intelligence that is hindered by their critical attitude. Also, they will be quick to tell you stories about how difficult other people were, and how they simply could not work with them.
They can suck the energy and optimism out of you.
In addition to their constant demands, negative people can drain you of your energy.
They are unable to create positive energy, and will take up all of your attention, time, and energy while they drag you down with them.
Even when presented with good news, they find some way to look at it negatively.
Perhaps you are excited to share the news that you landed your dream job, which includes a huge raise. Their reaction? “That's good, but your taxes will be higher.”
Negative people can always find a way to make positive events sound negative. They will warn you to be careful, caution you of any possible obstacles, and tell you to think about it before acting on anything.
Can you think of some of the negative people in your life? Why do you think they are so negative? Is it their job, relationship, or schooling?
Think about this, and be aware of their emotions and behavior when you are around them. Then, think about your own emotions when you are with them. Do you feel tired or drained? Do you start feeling a bit negative yourself? If so, it is important to remember that it is not you, it is them.
2. Set boundaries to minimize contact with negative people.
It is important to realize what you are willing or able to tolerate when it comes to negativity. You are not required to listen to everything a negative person has to say.
You certainly have the right to get up and walk away, or focus your attention elsewhere. Remember that their negativity will impact your thoughts and feelings, and affect your attitude.
For example, say you are doing a project at work that you are enjoying. Unfortunately, a co-worker who is also working on the project continues to complain about it.
This could alter your experience with the project, and you could start to dislike it as well. This is why it is important to limit your exposure to negativity.
Instead, surround yourself with people who share your positive feelings. If you have a friend who tends to be negative, you don't have to necessarily never see them again—but it is best to be aware of yourself and your feelings so you can pick and choose when to interact with that person.
For example, if you are going through a tough time, you likely don't want to add to that by being around someone who is negative. But, if you are feeling pretty confident in your life at the moment, it may be a good time to visit with that person.
Just be aware that you will want to limit your exposure so you're positive attitude does not become negatively impacted.
You have the right to set boundaries and limit your exposure to toxicity. If your negative friend is demanding of your time, or if you have a negative co-worker that you can't avoid, tell them your boundaries.
This may feel awkward, or even sound hurtful to the other person, but you deserve happiness, and it will be worth it in the long run.
3. Help some people deal with their negativity.
There may be some people in your life who are very important to you, and therefore you want to help them deal with their negative thoughts.
This probably won't be true for someone who is temporarily passing through your life, but if you have a family member or a close friend who seems like they could use some help, you have options. Someone may even ask you for help. So it is best to be equipped with some strategies.
First, you can show them kindness. Do something nice for them that they really can't put a negative spin on. Maybe buy them their favorite candy, or surprise them one day with a nice card. Give them a hug when you see them. Do anything to make them feel like you care.
It is also helpful to lend them a smile when you see them. Smiles can be as contagious as negativity, and you can pass on your compassion by showing you are happy when you are with a negative person. You never know—your positivity could rub off on them.
Give your negative friend compliments and positive reinforcement so they feel validated. This may help them look on the brighter side of things instead of continuing to focus on things that have gone wrong.
Try to give a compliment that isn't really common or superficial. For example, rather than saying "I like your shirt," say something like, "I was really impressed with how you handled XYZ this week. Your communication skills are really something to be proud of."
If you show respect and encouragement, you will be more likely to receive it in return.
Additionally, if you can think of a solution to their problems, go ahead and suggest it. Put yourself in their shoes, and think about what you would do if you were in their situation, no matter how insignificant the problem may seem to you.
Use your active listening skills to allow your friend to tell you exactly what is going on, and make a suggestion about how the issue can be resolved, or even how they can try to move on.
Doing this can help them overcome their negativity, which would be beneficial to them in so many aspects of their life. If you are successful in this, then you can be proud that you have had a positive influence on someone else's life.
But remember that in the end, their attitude isn't your responsibility, so if you are unable to change it, you have to accept that and move on with your own life.
4. Don’t make their problems your problems.
It will most certainly bring you down if you focus too much of your time on your negative friend's problems. Practice self-awareness so you can gauge when your thoughts are beginning to decline and your life is starting to be affected.
You don't have a responsibility for other people's feelings or actions, but you are responsible for you. For this reason, at some point, you need to put your own well-being ahead of others, and focus on your own life rather than theirs.
This is not something that you should feel guilty about doing. You likely want to feel like you are an empathetic healer, and the truth is, empathy is a great thing to have.
But don't let your empathy for other people become so much of a burden that you are no longer able to feel empathetic towards other people in your life. Don't guilt yourself for putting yourself first.
You have to recognize and understand that everyone is on their own unique journey in life. If you have a friend who always has some kind of drama going on, let that be their journey.
Don't make it your own. Don't allow yourself to get pulled into their drama and have it impact your own positive journey through life.
5. Create a positive environment in your personal life.
The environment you surround yourself with will influence your mood. Whether you are at home or at work, creating a positive environment and having positive energies can make your life much better and healthier.
To do this, start by surrounding yourself with people who share your attitude of positivity. You will feed off of each other, and contribute even more to each other's positive attitudes.
You have to put forth the work to create the environment that you want in your life. You can do this by spreading your happiness and going out of your way to lift up those around you. Also, practice gratitude—not only outwardly, but also internally.
Be conscious of the things in your life that you are thankful for, and be sure to tell someone if you are grateful for something they did. You can also encourage positive thinking from others by showing off your positivity.
When you are at home, create a happy environment that is free from unnecessary clutter or stress. What you set your focus on at home will grow with you once you are out in the world.
Make sure that you are living in a positive environment, and that you are offering other people a positive environment to enter when they come to your house.
When you are interacting with other people, don't underestimate the power of active listening. Listen to what people are saying, and respond in a way that they know you were listening.
One way of doing this is to repeat back what they said in your own words, such as saying, "What I am hearing you say is that…." This will make people feel validated, and feel that you care about what they are saying.
This can also lead to giving people positive reinforcement so they can feel like they are on the right track. You can do this by being sincere when you are talking to them, and being specific about the things that they are doing right.
It is also important to trust what other people are saying. Negative people are constantly skeptical of others, which is always putting them on the defense.
Trust what other people are saying to you, and always assume people have good intentions. This will help you enjoy life a bit more because you won't have that constant nagging thought in the back of your mind that something is a bit off.
Additionally, go out of your way to motivate other people. Help people get excited about what they are doing, and the opportunities in their lives.
This will help lift everyone's spirits. As long as you continue to think positively and pass that onto others, you will be spreading joy and supportive vibes.
If someone does offer you constructive criticism, think of it as a favor rather than an insult. Listen gracefully to what they are saying, and really consider where they are coming from.
If constructive criticism is delivered in a proper way, it can go a long way toward helping you. In turn, when you offer constructive criticism, make sure that you are doing it with good intentions to help the person you are talking to.
Finally, to help spread positivity and uplift those who are negative, do a random act of kindness now and then. This is a great way to pay it forward, and you can then hope that the recipient of your act of kindness will do the same for someone else.
6. Ignore the negative people who you can’t help.
You may come to the conclusion that you cannot help a certain person, and therefore decide to cut ties with them.
It is critical that you do not feel bad or guilty about cutting toxicity out of your life. You can start by just limiting your time with this person, and making a conscious effort to not allow them to influence you when you do see them.
You will probably notice that the more time you spend away from this person, the more your anxiety will diminish.
Take this opportunity to find some new likeminded friends who can challenge your mind and encourage you to grow instead of holding you back from the things you want in life. Trust me, doing this will help you feel better, both physically and mentally.
7. Be positive to other people
To get some inspiration, listen to positive, motivational podcasts, or find some YouTube videos that send positive messages to the viewers. Doing this can also help you learn how to meditate, as there are many meditation podcasts you can listen to in order to find one that suits you the best.
Meditation podcasts often revolve around mindfulness, which is another practice you can adopt into your life that will provide you with more happiness and gratitude, and decrease your levels of stress and anxiety.
Learn some positive affirmations that speak to you, and tell them to yourself throughout the day.
If you can learn how to identify your emotions, it will be clear when to use these positive affirmations to bring some positivity into your day. This will help you feel better about yourself and any challenges that you happen to face.
Check out this post on positivity to find: 29 ways to be more positive.
In order to help you stay relaxed, consider getting rid of one recurring task that you do every day that is not important. Think about how much stress this task causes you, and what would possibly happen if you stopped doing it. Would it affect your life five years from now? For example, do you have to be on every e-mail list that you are on?
You likely spend a lot of time doing things that really will not benefit you in the future, and only add a time crunch to your day.
If something goes wrong in your life or you make a mistake, don’t make excuses. Take responsibility for your actions rather than trying to blame other people. This will command the respect of other people, and hopefully inspire them to do the same.
Finally, if you get a chance to be challenged, embrace it! Think of it as an opportunity to grow. Whether or not you are successful doesn't matter.
The fact that you are willing to embrace a challenge will benefit you no matter what, and you are destined to learn something from the experience.
Most importantly, ignore negative comments from other people. If they are criticizing you and it is not coming with good intentions to help you, just ignore them. You don't deserve that negativity.
Quickest Way to Feel Happier
In conclusion, reducing the amount of negativity in your life is one of the quickest ways to feel happier on a daily basis. You have the right to control who you spend your time with, so choose wisely.
In this article, you learned a simple process that can help you minimize the amount of negativity that you frequently encounter. Our challenge to you is to now practice these seven steps.
Start by identifying the biggest sources of negativity in your life, and make a commitment to change the dynamics of your interaction with these people. Set some boundaries and limit your exposure to them, even if it means telling them that those are your intentions.
I promise you’ll quickly find that taking this proactive approach can transform your levels of happiness and decrease the amount of stress in your life.