Negative people. Ugh… Right?
I listened to a great episode of Threads Podcast: Life Unfiltered about dealing with negative people. That made me think more deeply about the topic for personal reasons as well, so here’s my thoughts after doing some reading.
An interesting article from the Harvard Business Review points out why the old saying Kill em with kindness is outdated and wrong. The article says, “Countering someone’s negativity with your positivity doesn’t work because it’s argumentative.” On the most basic level, this means that “people don’t like to be emotionally contradicted.”
If someone has a negative attitude, trying to kill them with kindness does two things: pisses you both off in the long run, and makes you both dig stubbornly deeper into your own way of thinking.
Don’t do that, OK? Just don’t. Hey, seriously. Stop.
It’s already bad enough out there in the world. Well, it’s not, but it is…
So there’s these folks called scientists who devote their lives to science. Crazy, right? Anyway, some of these folks study negative people. What they found was that we have something called a Negativity Bias, which is “our tendency not only to register negative stimuli more readily but also to dwell on these events. Also known as positive-negative asymmetry, this negativity bias means that we feel the sting of a rebuke more powerfully than we feel the joy of praise.”
(Which is in part why I use titles like 3 Ways (Some) Christians Hijack And Exploit The Bible and God Caused the Flood in Michigan? (Look at you, the hair on your neck is already up…)
So, that begs the question–with all the negativity and negative people floating around, and our insistence to dwell on it…
How Should We Handle Negative People?
#1: Self Care for Your Mental Health
First, you gotta make sure you’re taking care of yourself. I actually do do a lot of research for these posts, including my own therapy “journey”–my boss, Jason from Threads Podcast: Life Unfiltered, absolutely hates it when people use that word, so let’s see if he read’s his own show’s blog, LOL!
From my research on this and past blogs, I continue to push people towards mindfulness. (See my first blog for these guys, Mindfulness: Powerful Self-Care for Your Mental Health.) You can’t be around negative people if you are in a sorry state of your own. Always practice self care! Stop feeling like, I Wish I Wasn’t the Only Person with Mental Health Issues. Try these 4 hacks to improve your mental health, and/or write your way to improved mental health. And sleep is super important too, guys.
#2: Don’t Give Advice; Ask Questions
Entrepreneur suggests using a technique called Appreciative Inquiry, “which is the process of asking questions to help the person gain a more positive outlook.” They elaborate on this:
If the person is brooding about a past event, ask questions that focus on the positive aspects of their experiences or about the future. Such questions might include: “What are some good things that came out of that experience?” or “What would you like to see happen next time?” Reframing the negative language helps them focus on how to achieve a brighter future in a positive way.Deep Patel, Entrepreneur, April 2018
Check out DavidCooperrider.com for more info about Appreciative Inquiry
#3: Stay Positive
This doesn’t contradict the whole Kill-Em-with-Kindness–Is-Dumb thing. Just being an overbearing load of forced positivity doesn’t do anything. Treat yourself first, use tactful questions to change the POV of people around you a little bit, but, while doing it, be your honest-but-positive self. Smile and have a let’s-roll-with-it frame of mind. That and deconstructing the other person’s negativity will go a long way towards everyone’s mental health.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope this helps (at least a little).
Last Thing before You Go…
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Christopher Tallon writes, podcasts, and…wait a second. Are you actually reading this? High five! Follow me here: