It’s not always possible to cut negative people out of our lives, and neither do we always want to. To me, it can feel like admitting defeat and giving up my power. Of course it’s impossible to change other people. However, do these interactions have to drain us, or is there a way to manage our emotions more effectively?
Julia Kristina argues that we are indeed the one’s getting on our own nerves by trying to make the impossible happen. Negative people usually think they are being realistic and down to earth. It’s a habit of finding flaws in everything, often carried over from jobs, childhood or parents. It is not a conscious choice they’re making. Understand that their behaviour is not personal. This is not an excuse, but can help from feeling attacked.
Here’s a few ways to deal with their behaviour:
- Why are you surprised? Adapt your expectations instead of allowing yourself becoming annoyed at every comment. Accept who they are.
- Resist the urge to solve problems! Don’t fall into fixer mode or the role of agony aunt. We have no responsibility or control over their life, so it’s important to take a step back.
- Set boundaries! The key is to be aware and stick with them. There’s no need to justify yourself! What don’t you want to talk about? Are you able to communicate your limits?
- Have empathy for their struggles. Acknowledge their pain, and nudge them towards their accountability. What have they done to rectify the situation? Don’t try to fix them.
- Redirect the conversation! Once you’re aware of your boundaries, feel empowered to change the topic. Ask about the good parts of their day, what else they did.
- Say… nothing! There’s power in staying silent when we’re triggered. Don’t give in to your ego and don’t give them the satisfaction if they’re looking for a reaction.
Next time your negative person of choice badgers you, here’s a few go-to replies:
‘I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through it. I hope you’re doing okay and that this won’t last too long.‘
‘I can imagine that must have been really frustrating. How was the rest of your day? Did anything nice happen?’
‘I feel for you. I’m not sure what there is to be done, but I’m sure you will figure it out. What are your plans for the rest of the day?’
If this doesn’t work, you might want to check out my blog post about the grey rock technique. This is particularly useful for narcissists. Remember that your own mental health is your most valuable possession, and that it is entirely at your control. Let me know if any of these tips have helped you!