How to Deal with Negative People: 16 Hacks

We can all be negative.

Each of us has that something that’d push our buttons at the snap of a finger. To sum it all up, we’re human—we get to face our own challenges with negativity in one way or another.

In other words, if you say that you just couldn’t handle negative people, you might also be negative yourself.

If you know how to deal with negative people, you’ll look at them from a different perspective. Don’t get me wrong—dealing with negative people could be difficult, especially if you can’t avoid being with them, for example, family members.

Dealing with negative people has always been one of my favorite topics. It’s not because I’m really interested in it, but because circumstances have called for it—I’m surrounded with negative people. But I know there’s nothing special with that—everybody is exposed to at least one negative person every day.

Who’s to blame, then? Negativity has become part of the norm. Getting exposed to, or entertaining, negativity is always easy. Shielding yourself from such negativity could be difficult. If you think about it, only a few people are actually able and willing to shield themselves. Only a few know that they should take care of themselves. Only a few understand how negativity could affect someone’s life.

Find out these hacks you can apply if you simply deal with negative people all the time.

1. Just shut up.

Yes, it works.

The thing with hacks is that they may not work the first time, but if you keep repeating them, they could do wonders.

Being silent could mean that, at least to the negative person, you don’t approve of what they’re saying. Hopefully they’ll get that. Sadly, though, they could see you as someone who doesn’t care about other people’s sentiments at all. But whatever they might sense, you’ll help them realize that their ranting won’t really help—by not responding to it.

2. Tell them outright.

Negative people may not be aware that they’re indeed being negative. Especially that, as I said, everybody’s surrounded by negativity. Negativity could camouflage easily, making it hard to determine which is which.

Telling them outright about it could be effective, especially if they seem to be an open-minded person.

Do it with a grain of salt, however. People are different.

3. Breathe.

I admit I sometimes forget what deep breathing could actually do.

Breathing works well whenever you’re under stress, which is what negative people bring. Deep breathing is great for your mind, your heart—it helps you calm down.

4. Focus on your own energy—don’t think about the negative people!

There are important things you could do instead of allowing yourself to get sucked into other people’s negativity.

Hearing negative people talk is available almost anytime, anywhere. Sometimes you just can’t avoid it. Worse, there could be absolutely nothing you can do about it.

But you can choose to focus on your own energy—even if it seems hopeless. Choosing to think about negative people only doubles the damage, when you know it’s a waste of time.

5. Find solutions.

Don’t focus on the problem. Negative people allow adversity to take over them. They allow themselves to feel down and thus problems would only seem to get worse.

Challenges vary in terms of their magnitude, consequences and implications, but whatever problem may arise, positive people will immediately look for solutions. They know that feeling sorry for themselves won’t help; the time they could use for that should be used in looking for solutions instead.

6. Experience nature.

Studies confirm that taking nature walks is great for mental health.

If you know how to deal with negative people, you’ll make time to recharge your positivity with nature. Enjoy the peace nature could give you. Use it as an opportunity to reflect on the way you manage the negativity that continuously challenges you.

7. The “rule of three” could apply.

Whenever you’re caught in a situation in which you have to deal with a negative person, find a way to have a third person, not a negative one, join the interaction. This could keep the negativity from getting worse.

Caught up with two or three negative people? Have another two or three who could back you up!

Practice doing it naturally. You may just do everyone a favor—simply by promoting positivity.

8. Limit your caffeine intake.

Caffeine encourages “fight or flight” response—the response you make when you’re under attack. As the term suggests, this type of response is made quickly, but so quickly that rational thinking may be kicked out of the picture.

When you understand the behavior of negative people, either fight or flight can only potentially increase the tension. Be mindful of your actions whenever you deal with negative people.

9. Laugh it out.

Studies show that laughter can lower stress levels.

Laugh, even if you fake it at first.

Keep a funny memory, anything that’d surely make you laugh or smile. I could always retrieve something like that anytime; they indeed never fail to make me smile.

10. Understand negative people.

I know this isn’t easy. How could you understand someone who may even be complaining about you?

The good news is yes, you could still understand them.

Think about it this way: You’re only one among the many people who gets to experience their negativity. But imagine how they really live when they get to experience their negativity all by themselves?

Behaviors could be erratic in unpleasant interactions. Before you say or do anything, stop for a moment and remember this hack.

A positive attitude entails understanding.

11. Get some sleep.

Aside from getting enough sleep hours every day, don’t forget to take naps—especially if you have fixed breaks. I used to take a nap some 15 to 30 minutes after lunch, and I’d feel much more prepared getting back to work.

Sleeping is resting.

You may not notice it but you may be grumpy because you’re either lacking sleep, or just in need of a nap.

Never underestimate the power of sleep and naps.

12. Answer positively. Or stick with light topics.

If you’re the type who just can’t keep quiet whenever a negative person starts doing his thing, give positive responses—even if, apparently, they’ll keep talking negatively.

Respond through a slightly different angle—this sort of response is a skill. For example, colleague A complains about colleague B. Instead of feeding the complaining craze, respond by praising someone else who could be connected. Try praising colleague B’s immediate head—because the latter is simply effective and everybody knows it.

Negativity could turn into positivity. Surprisingly, negativity and positivity could just be connected in a way, too.

13. Let your confidence shine.

Negativity could be contagious, especially if the negative person’s being persuasive.

You don’t have to be indifferent. Just show everybody that no matter what they say or do, your positivity will remain unshaken. And when your positivity becomes contagious—the world becomes a better place.

Learning how to deal with negative people means you’re confident about yourself, and making sure others can see it.

14. Look for your support system.

No man is an island.

Look for a support system in every significant aspect of your life—workplace, social life, or sometimes, family. These aspects are where you’re spending most of your time in, they’re routine. Having positive people you can confide in would be very helpful for you.

15. It’s a sign.

When your environment has become a shelter for negativity, it might be a sign you don’t want to leave your comfort zone. Perhaps you need to make significant changes in your life to see results you’ve been looking for.

Deal with negative people as positively as you can, but be mindful during these times. If you can’t change negative people, you could at least make improvements on yourself.

16. Set boundaries. Cut ties. Leave.

These three sentences seem the same. And they speak of the last resort you could do.

You can’t easily walk away if negative people are simply in your workplace or at home.

Leaving may not be easy—but you can—and know that there are other ways to “leave.”

That’s why you could set boundaries. You could avoid talking to negative people, even if you’re staying at the same place. You need to talk to them? Sure—as long as you only, well, need to. You could also imagine how much small talks you don’t actually need when you set boundaries.

Negativity could be so strong, but you don’t have to join them. Joining them means allowing a part of you die—agree?

Think About It

Negative people refuse to see the beauty in life, the lessons learned from hardships, and the real priorities. You should see these—a positive person, especially one who knows how to deal with negative people, will see these, despite challenges. It all comes down to how you should handle life, how prepared you are at any given moment, and how you perceive things in general.

Being positive could be your sole but huge advantage. And if you can’t change what goes around you, it may be best to still stay positive—and move on.

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2 thoughts on “How to Deal with Negative People: 16 Hacks”

  1. Ethan,
    These are great tips! And I couldn’t agree with you more. Sometimes just walking away and leaving the situation does wonders. Answering positively always works for me as well.

    It’s a tough situation to confront negative people. Thanks for the insight.

    Laura Beth

    1. Thanks, Laura Beth!

      If we care about ourselves by not letting negativity get us, we seem to say that we care about other people, too!

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