Every day we encounter negative people. Whether it’s in baby group, waiting to pick your kids up from school or at work.
I’m a bit of an energy sponge – absorbing the various emotions of the people around me. This is a great trait when the energy is positive, but not as helpful when the people surrounding me are negative. I find that these negative emotions often have a detrimental impact on me. As a result, I have to watch out and protect myself in these situations.
Based on my experience, I’ve come up with a few helpful ways to handle the negative people that can pop into your life on a daily basis.
5 Zen Strategies for Dealing with Negative People in Your Life
Strategy 1: Be Empathetic
What is empathy? To put it succinctly, empathy is defined as the ability to understand other people’s emotions and feelings.
When faced with a negative person in your life, put yourself in the negative individual’s shoes. Why is she acting this way? Is something going on in her life? Does she need help?
If she’s facing some personal difficulties, try to help. However, before you can help, you need to understand her feelings and situation. Only then can you try to determine what’s going on.
If you can take the time to listen and try to help, then please do. I would think that any effort would be appreciated. Just remember to be gentle. She might not see her behaviour as negative and as something that is impacting you.
Strategy 2: Avoidance
If you aren’t at a point in your life where you can help by listening or lending a hand (which is totally ok – we all go through these times in our lives), then you have to take a different approach and consider your own wellbeing.
It’s unfortunate, but you might just need to avoid this individual all together. There are times in our lives when we need to avoid certain people to protect ourselves. If this is the case for you, then you’ve got to do it. You can’t help a friend if you’re not in the mindset to do so.
I know this sounds harsh and mean but sometimes it has to be done. Try not to sit next to her at baby group or try not to engage with her at work.
Once you feel better, then you’ll have the time and energy to work at rebuilding your relationship.
Strategy 3: Ignore
When I suggest that you “ignore” someone I’m not saying that you should just walk past the person without saying hello but I am suggesting that you act a bit less friendly than usual. Have a quick chat at the coffee machine rather than a 10 minute conversation detailing everything going on in your life. Make an excuse if you need to leave a conversation – you’re working on a project or your baby needs a diaper change. This isn’t meant to be mean and spiteful but consider how to protect yourself, while still being polite.
Even if you’re practicing this strategy, please be kind to the individual. Remember, she’s having a rough time as well and feeling completely ignored won’t make her situation better.
Please see –> How to Become a More Empathetic Parent
Strategy 4: Deal with It
I find myself using this strategy most often. Sometimes we have to deal with negative people and there’s no way for us to employ one of the first three strategies. For example, I don’t feel comfortable confronting a work colleague about why she’s being so negative, but I also can’t ignore or avoid her since she’s part of my team. If I know she’s in this headspace, then I remind myself of that before I meet with her. I also remind myself that none of this is personal and she is having her own difficulties at the moment.
By preparing myself a bit before I step into a situation I know might be negative, I’m bringing awareness to how I might feel at the end of the conversation and gaining the perspective I need not to let the negativity impact me.
Strategy 5: Reevaluate Yourself
Take a few minutes and look inward. Are you doing something that results in this negativity? Are you acting a certain way or doing certain actions that are upsetting people?
Sometimes we do things without even realizing that we’re doing them and these actions can have a negative impact on the people around us.
It’s ok if you realize that you are doing something that upsets others. The fact that you can recognize it is amazing! Now that you know, you can take steps to change that behaviour for the positive.
For example, sometimes I use a certain tone in my voice when I speak with E. I don’t mean for it to be negative but it can be. When he points it out to me I do my best to change that tone and think consciously of what I’m saying and how I’m saying it.
How do you cope with the negative people in your life? What are your most effective strategies?