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8 Ways To Deal With Negative People

8 Ways To Deal With Negative People

No matter how positive your outlook on life may be, you’re bound to attract some negative people to you at many times throughout your life. Hypothetically, you might think it’s easy to rid yourself of a bad relationship, especially because you don’t want to be dragged down with them. However, it’s not that simple. Being the positive person you are, you most likely care deeply about everyone around you, including the “Debbie Downers” in your life. While it would certainly be cold-hearted to shut people out of your life just because they’re down in the dumps, there are numerous ways you can deal with them without letting their negativity affect you.

1. Don’t give too much of yourself

It’s one thing to be a shoulder to cry on, but it’s another to give so much of yourself that you lose your own positive outlook on life. Don’t let others change your perspective. It won’t happen overnight, but continuously surrounding yourself with negativity will slowly poison your mind, dragging you down without you even realizing it. Take note of how much you give of yourself, compared to how much others take from you. If you’re giving more than you’re getting, you’ll end up empty.

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2. Give negative people less power over you

Pessimistic people can be pretty persuasive. While you always try to see the silver lining of bad situations, they’ll do their best to convince you the dark cloud overhead is what matters. What you see as pessimism, they see as reality. Don’t let them cloud your own outlook. It’s healthy to be realistic, but we should always try to err on the side of optimism.

3. Don’t hold yourself responsible for their happiness

As a friend and overall good person, you want others around you to be equally as happy. However, it’s not your job to make it so. You can help by being there when someone needs you. You could invite them out to do something fun when they’re feeling down. You shouldn’t feel like a failure if; at the end of the day, they’re back to their old pessimistic self. Negativity is a mindset that can only be changed if the person is willing to change it.

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4. Don’t take their negativity personally

Negative people aren’t actively looking to offend others. Then again, they also don’t really care much for other people’s feelings whatsoever. Knowing this, you shouldn’t take offense when your efforts to cheer someone up don’t help. And you definitely shouldn’t take offense when they neglect your friendship. While you’re busy thinking of everyone else, negative people are selfishly worrying about their own mood and mindset. Don’t take it as a personal affront. Keep in mind, it’s simply how they treat all people when they’re feeling low.

5. Don’t argue with them

Negative people usually can’t be persuaded, no matter how hard you try. Don’t fight with them about things such as their outlook on life. Don’t try to give a laundry list of how “things could be worse” or how “it’ll get better.” No matter what you say, pessimists will more than likely have a counter-argument that will only serve to prove their point. When negative people are in a funk, they almost seem to thrive on their negativity. Save yourself time and energy, and don’t fight a losing battle.

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6. Consider their perspective

Maybe it’s not just their mindset? Maybe things really are going terrible for that person? It’s always important to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, when faced with a contrasting viewpoint. Like I said, it’s fruitless to argue with a pessimist. To be fair, more often than not all they want is to be heard. Listen to what they have to say, and commiserate with them (even if you’re only doing so on the surface). They might just need to vent and get all their frustration out in the open. So even if you don’t have any actionable advice, at least show that you’re trying to see things from their point of view.

7. Be empathetic

While considering their perspective, look at all the factors surrounding the person’s mood: their upbringing, their home life, their job, etc. This will benefit you in two ways: For one, you’ll better understand where they’re coming from, and better understand them as a person. Secondly, you’ll realize that not everyone shares the same advantages you’ve had. In the process, you might end up appreciating your life even more than you already did. In turn, you’ll be more inclined to help a friend out while not letting it drain you completely.

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8. Don’t force anything

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Remember, sometimes negative people actually enjoy being in a funk. You can spell out all the positive aspects of their life and give them as much actionable advice as possible, but they will probably still remain stoic and pessimistic. There’s nothing you can do about it. Let them have their time. If they choose to snap out of it, you’ll regain the friend you once had. If they can’t bring themselves to dig themselves out of their self-made hole, that’s their choice. You should feel comfortable knowing you did the best you could to help them.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

Reference

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