Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dealing With Negative People


Some people exude negativity. They don’t like their jobs or they don’t like their company. Their bosses are always jerks and they are always treated unfairly. The company is always going down the tube and customers are worthless.

Very often, negative people do not realize how their pessimistic attitude can affect others, and therefore they do very little to try to change how they act. Luckily, there are certain tips and pointers that you can use to better deal with the negative vibes that are being emitted in their company.

So, how does one deal with negative people?

One obvious solution is to walk away from them. But this is easier said than done. You can’t always just “get rid of” negative people. Sometimes they are your family, friends, coworkers. People have bad days. Even you.

A more practical approach to dealing with them is to start by understanding the reasons for their negativity. In brief, almost all negativity has its roots in one of three deep-seated fears: the fear of being disrespected by others, the fear of not being loved by others, and the fear that “bad things” are going to happen. These fears feed off each other to fuel the belief that “the world is a dangerous place and people are generally mean.”

The fears that negative people harbor manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including:

• A thin skin, or the proclivity to take umbrage at others’ comments; e.g., “you look good today” is interpreted as, “you mean, I didn’t look good yesterday?”

• Judgmentalism, or the tendency to impute negative motivations to others’ innocent actions; thus, guests who don’t compliment a meal are judged as “uncouth brutes who don’t deserve future invitations.”

• Diffidence: A sense of helplessness about one’s ability to deal with life’s challenges, leading to anxiety in facing those challenges, and to shame or guilt when the challenges are not met.

• Demanding nature: Although negative people are diffident about their own abilities, they nevertheless put pressure on close-others to succeed and “make me proud” and “not let me down”.

• Pessimism, or the tendency to believe that the future is bleak; thus, for example, negative people can more readily think of ways in which an important sales call will go badly than well.

• Risk aversion, especially in social settings. This leads to reluctance to divulge any information that could be “used against me,” leading, ultimately, to boring conversations and superficial relationships.

• The need to control others’—especially close-others’—behaviors. For example, negative people have strong preferences on what and how their children should eat, what type of car their spouse should drive, etc.

Notice a common feature across all of these manifestations of negativity: the tendency to blame external factors—other people, the environment, or “luck”—rather than oneself, for one’s negative attitudes. Thus, negative people tend to think, “If only people realized my true worth, if only people were nicer and the world wasn’t fraught with danger, and if only my friends, relatives, and colleagues behaved like I want them to, then I’d be happy!”

Being around negative people is toxic and can negatively affect us. As practitioners, we can often find ourselves living in a bubble of positive, like-minded people, which makes it a little more difficult to have patience for people who are the opposite. It is one of the many challenges in trying to implement Lean, but it is also a wonderful reminder for us to go back to the lessons we learn through respect for people.

Not letting that negativity affect us is not easy, and encouraging negative people to change is even more so. Approaching both with kindness, non-judgement, and our own positivity can make things a bit easier.

How do you deal with negative people in your life? Share with us below!

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