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10 Simple Steps to Deal with Negative People

It’s tough to deal with negative people. Unfortunately, negativity is something we deal with on a daily basis.

I had to go back to work today after a full two week break. It has sure been nice to be able to pick and choose who I hang around lately.

Don’t get me wrong. My job fulfills me, and I like my co-workers. However, just as with most anywhere, there always seems to be those one or two people who see the glass half empty all the time.

That’s tough to be around on a consistent basis. In fact, these negative people suck the life out of me. I’ll try to stay positive, but so often their negativity drains me. Oh sure. At home sometimes, we call my husband Debbie Downer, and I can certainly have my grumpy moments.

I don’t understand, though, how some people focus on the negative in most every situation. Why does that happen?   Enough has happened to me in my lifetime that I do get the fact that we can’t always internally control our initial reactions.

For the most part,  however, I’d think a person could choose to control their external responses. Unfortunately, these everyday grumpers don’t realize how or don’t choose to exhibit that control.

One giant lesson I’ve learned is that I can’t control others. Negative, positive, neutral. How they act is never up to me. I can only control my actions and reactions – my responses to situations.

And because I tend to get wrapped up in their negative energy, I had to find ways to protect myself and refuse to allow others’ energy to bring me down.

Woman in blue shirt with a title text overlay of 10 Simple Steps to Deal with Negative People.

Here’s How I Deal with Negative People:

1. Avoid them.

Simple, right? Well, not always, but it can be. When at all possible, stay away from those bringing you down. I used to eat lunch with a group of ladies who griped and complained and gossiped every day.

Yes, we’re adults, but sometimes you wouldn’t think so.

By the end of lunch, I’d be so stressed out. Meek little me kept going there to eat, though, because it was ‘the’ place to eat lunch. Besides, I knew if I didn’t go, I’d end up being the topic of conversation.

I finally gave myself permission to not be a part of that crowd. If they talked about me, that was on them. Not me. I hadn’t done anything wrong.

2. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries

Never feel you have to sit and listen to a negative person. You are in charge of yourself, and unless you’re in the middle of an important meeting that you absolutely can’t leave, go ahead and find a different place to be or a different person to be with.

Speak up if you can, but if you can’t just find a reason to gently excuse yourself.

3. Try to hang out in groups of people.

The more you have around you, the less likely it is a person will speak out negatively. Unless, of course, they have an audience and others who participate with them.

If that’s the case, find a different group. Otherwise, just stay with several who tend to look on the bright side more often than not.

4. Have a support system.

This kind of goes along with #3. Basically, there’s safety in numbers, and if you find a positive group of people to associate with, the negative tends to get squeezed out.

I don’t mean squeeze the person out. I merely mean their negativity tends to not be as bad.

A support system also can be important after the fact. If you do feel down from being around such negativity, it can help to share how you’re feeling with someone else who understands, not as a gripe session, too, which would just keep your energy down, but as a way to let go of the negativity and receive a little support.

5. Don’t take it personally.

Most negative people don’t realize they’re even being negative. They don’t typically mean any harm.

They’re just caught up in themselves and their own world. Instead of taking offense at what say, instead realize they’re expressing their point of view and most likely don’t recognize they’re being anything but positive.

6. Don’t engage in the negativity.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of going along just to be agreeable. We don’t want to offend or hurt feelings and so we (meaning me, really) can sometimes find ourselves spouting off negativity right along side them.

Even when we refrain from commenting, we stand there and nod and that’s really just as bad if we don’t follow up with anything positive. Make sure you don’t get sucked in to participating in the negativity.

7. Choose lighter topics. 

You can even say, “Now, let’s talk about something positive. Sometimes, they’ll get the hint. They should, at least, over time understand that you are not going to give them audience.

8. Focus on your own energy. 

I like to imagine Jesus Christ coming down and surrounding me in peace and love. This not only makes me feel better, but it reminds me of what’s truly important.

Negativity belongs to this earthly world and not to the spiritual. Focus on yourself, repeat prayer and scripture within, or imagine Christ’s Light surrounding you as I do, and work on keeping your own energy positive.

9. Choose your battles.

If you’ve ever tried to convince a negative person to view something a different way, you’ll know it’s like pulling teeth. Nothing we say in debate with them will change their minds.

Instead, we can only model peace and positivity and remind them gently by example. Remember not to argue or debate. It’s not a battle worth fighting.

10. Let them go.

There may come a time when none of these strategies work. When all else fails, you may just have to let the person go. Let the negativity they convey go.

It’s not representative of you, and you need to look after your own energy first in order to live the best life for you. It’s only then that you can continue to share that positive light with the world.

We encounter negative people most everywhere. Arm yourself with these strategies and keep your light strong, positive, and loving.

Here are some scriptures to commit to memory in order to help you keep your peace within when you have to deal with negative people:

Colossians 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Romans 12:18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

1 Corinthians 1:4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

Seriously, memorize these. Call on them when you need them. You’ll be glad you did!

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16 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for these useful tips. Yes very important is to keep your peace and be the light and try to change topic. We can’t change people only Lord can so we should continuously pray for our negative family members or spouses. God Bless you all❤️

  2. Great tips! I spent way too much time letting negative people walk all over me. There is definitely a difference between being nice and being a doormat.

  3. This is exactly what I needed! My parents don’t approve of my current career path. I live and work at home so I’m around them (and their negativity) all the time. I’m still working through it but I find that having a support system is SO important. Luckily, my boyfriend is amazingly supportive and has helped me to get through this tough time.

    1. It must be so difficult to be around that negativity so often. I’m so glad you have a supportive boyfriend. The more positive you can surround yourself with, the better! Bless you!

  4. Great article! Thank you for the tips.
    My husband is Mr. Negative and it’s gets so old. I’m a positive person and I get so frustrated with his constant negativity. I really don’t want to get rid of him. lol Hoping these scriptures help.
    Blessings,
    Deborah

    1. Oh my. Yes, I sometimes call my husband Eeyore as he tends to also be negative. I don’t want to get rid of him either, though! lol He’s a good man with a wonderful heart, and I love him dearly! I’ve found that when I make sure that I spend plenty of quiet time in prayer and studying the Word, I am more at peace and can more easily ‘deal with’ his negativity when it happens. It keeps me from letting his negativity rub off on me!

    1. Hi Susan! When it’s family, it’s definitely going to be a bit more difficult. You can’t always avoid them and certainly can’t ‘let them go.’ However, remember that it’s always okay to set boundaries. Don’t be afraid to speak up and steer conversation to things more positive. Allow yourself plenty of time away from the person in order to rejuvenate yourself. Having a support system is also important. Make sure to otherwise surround yourself with positive and uplifting people and activities. Strengthen your prayer life as I strongly believe the Lord will provide you the true joy we can only know from Him. You may never change your family member, but you can still be Christ’s Light in the room. I have added you to my list of people to pray for. God bless you!

  5. Simple but powerful tips! Love the one on choosing lighter topics. That sets positive vibes in motion and we get to influence and bring them over to positivity!

  6. Spot on! Loved this post. I was reading a fascinating study the other day about how (much like second-hand smoke) being surrounded by negativity really has an impact on us. It actually “rewires” the synapses in our brains to jump more quickly to negative emotional reactions ourselves, rather than looking on the positive side. Thanks for these 10 practical steps for helping to limit that “second-hand” negativity exposure!

  7. The “strength in numbers” comment really resonates. I think it can be difficult because it’s so accepted for people to complain, but if we can manage to pull together a group of like-minded positive people, the light of that group is like a healing balm for others’ negativity.

    1. Therein lies the struggle – finding those like-minded people in a workplace or other area where you can’t always pick and choose who is around. I used to look for others to be that light and then would ‘get down’ because I couldn’t find it and then I discovered that light was in me! Not only did that make a difference for me, but it then became so much easier to find those like-minded people as they just began showing up. Does that make sense? lol Like – we attract who we are.

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