If there is one thing you can count on, you’ll always have to deal with a negative person or two. It’s understandable if they’re having a challenging time in their life, but when it’s constant – how do you handle this?
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It’s not about the person being a ‘Debbie Downer’ (apologies if your name’s Debbie!) for them to have a negative impact on you. When I come across a person like this, a verse from one of Rihanna’s songs always comes to mind – ‘work work work work work work’. Here I’ll choose to take a breath and create a buffer between the person and myself.
Let’s look at a few different negative types:
THE DRAMA QUEEN
– addicted to drama
Someone that always has something dramatic happening in his or her life. They tend to exaggerate or over react to every situation. It can be exhausting hearing their daily experiences and part of the reason, they’re addicted to drama whether they realize it or not.
THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER
– never satisfied
This type of person can’t make a decision easily. Everything is about weighing up the pros and cons (which is a good thing up to a point) only to focus on what’s missing with any choice. Once they have made a decision, they may regret it, as they tend to focus on the missed opportunity.
THE FUN POLICE
– always judging
We’re all familiar with a person giving us their critique of a situation – what we should do and how to do it. They may tend to call themselves ‘realists’ however, reality is simply our own perception of life.
– the manipulator
There’s always a situation they can’t handle and need some sort of assistance with. You find yourself offering to help them out of situations even if you don’t want to. Initially this can seem like you’re bonding on a deeper level however, the relationship tends to be one sided.
IT’S ALL ABOUT ME
– me first
We all filter information through our own experiences but this type of person feels the need to share their achievements and beliefs in all conversations. Everything comes back to them. They require an audience than interaction.
Side stepping negative people isn’t really the key here. They could be a friend, a family member, a colleague or even a bestie’s partner, so that’s not really going to work.
Choosing how and when you want to interact with negative people is one of the strategies I work with my clients. It’s more to do with how you feel after interacting with them. If you were constantly drained afterwards, then I would encourage you to reset the parameters of how you connect with them.
Having a strong sense of self helps you to understand what needs you want met. Secondly, having parameters of what you choose and not choose to engage in. Thirdly, while still being interested, you can choose to listen and not engage with them at their intensity.
Here are some ways to manage your emotions and thoughts, which determines how you interact with them.
1. Know your VALUES
Your values are a guideline for your own priorities. What value you’re giving to yourself and others. What you want to attract more of in life. Read here how to find your top six values.
2. Set time limits
As I mentioned above, we can’t always choose whom we’re interacting with but we can choose how long and the frequency of engaging with certain people. Thirty to forty minutes over a coffee is one of my limits.
3. Have boundaries
A boundary that I share with clients is staying detached. You don’t have to ride their emotional experiences with them to connect.
4. Don’t react
Sometimes it’s about getting a reaction from you to engage with what’s going on in their lives. They may even try to press your buttons for that reaction. That’s when it becomes draining and they have their audience. Don’t take what they might say personally.
Instead of it being ‘work work work work work’, you set the framework, the pace and conversation of how you connect with a negative person. You will find the dynamics of the relationship start to change as they begin to change their behaviour around you. Remember, practice is the key to finding what works and what doesn’t for you.