Great tips for dealing with negative, pessimistic, complaining people

from the Healthsparks newsletter from Learning Strategies Corporation:

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Welcome to Health Sparks
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Do negative people rub you the wrong way? A negative, pessimistic, and complaining person can wear on your nerves and deplete your energy faster than you realize.

And trying to change their attitude wastes even more of your energy. Your effort has no chance of success when they do not want to cooperate.

When you believe that positive thinking is desirable and negative thinking is undesirable, then you are empowering people to irritate you when they think and talk in negative ways.

Dr. Al Siebert, author of The Survivor Personality and our Resiliency personal learning course, calls that kind of thinking “The Theme Song of the Human Race.”

This belief, “If only other people would change, things would be much better for me,” may indeed be correct, he says, but it also makes it possible for negative people to control you. When others are negative they can upset you, cause you to spend time and energy trying to cope with their negativism, and frustrate your positive efforts.

The solution to regaining control is not to change them but to change how you respond to them.

Start by giving the negative person permission to be here on Earth the way they are.

“When you feel frustrated or feel an energy drain, treat the difficulty as a test in the school of life,” Al says. “Look at it as an opportunity to learn about your blind spots. Appreciate opportunities to learn better ways of handling people who knock you off balance emotionally.”

Next, replace the thought “If only they would change, my life would be much better” with questions.

Ask, “How might I respond differently so that I am less vulnerable? What could I do to regain control? How can I handle negativity in positive ways?”

When someone says something negative, try one of the following:

* Say, “You may be right,” then change the subject.

* Pretend you didn’t hear them. Attention is a big payoff for people with pessimistic attitudes, so stop reacting to their negative statements. Withdraw attention. Be selectively impolite.

* Be playful. Say, “It’s much worse than you know.” Describe more things to be upset about, and then be quiet or leave.

* Say, “Now that you’ve identified the problem, what is your plan for dealing with it?”

* See the benefit of their negative thinking. Develop an appreciation for the ability of chronically pessimistic people to see potential risks and problems that others overlook.

* Make the negative person a useful resource. Ask them to help you anticipate difficulties. If you thank them for their critical thinking, your relationship will probably improve.

Rehearse what you might say the next time you are around a negative person. Notice how much more in control you feel when you develop a positive plan of action.

The key to making your life better is to stop blaming others for triggering reactions in you that you don’t like and to focus instead on discovering better ways to respond. When you change how you react, your emotional strain is reduced.

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6 Comments on “Great tips for dealing with negative, pessimistic, complaining people”

  1. navneet Says:

    Really useful tips.i will try my leverl best to implement them.

  2. 72bora Says:

    What nonsense! A severly pessimistic life partner can’t just be walked away from! Someone who is depressed, and using pessimism to justify feelings of “nothing will ever get better” needs help, not platitudes! Think “justifying suicide” as their position!

    • Rick Says:

      I agree with you, but where in the article I posted does it advocate walking away from a pessimistic life partner? I just re-read the article and I see no such guidance. I do see a number of helpful tips, but understand that it’s not an article about how to rehabilitate the pessimist, but rather, how to survive them with YOUR sanity kept intact.

  3. cojalen Says:

    Great article. I really like the responses you have. I’m dealing with three very pessimistic people right now, and while I really enjoy hanging around them, they can be so draining at times. If I try to form an argument against their position, they either roll their eyes or, if they do respond, eventually get irritated that I don’t back down. It ends up a bitter night…

    I will try some of these instead. Thank you very much!

  4. Optimist Says:

    Great info. Hope this will work with the overly negative thinker who is around me 8 hours a day.

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