We all come across negative and difficult people.
Sometimes its people we love dearly, or know well. But that doesn’t make it any easier.
I know people who I call good friends, but sometimes I just dread having to deal with them, because they are difficult by nature.
Sometimes they hold grudges against people, think others are trying to ‘best’ them, or are just being so negative it affects others.
There are a lot of reasons why we still deal with people like this. Sometimes they are family, and we can’t just give up on them. Other times it’s because we are compassionate and feel compelled to try and help.
Some of us are just optimistic and see the best in other people, nothing wrong with that. But you need to be careful not to be taken advantage of, or absorb too much of their negativity.
When someone is being difficult and negative, it takes patients and social skills to handle the situation accordingly. It can be contagious, and you don’t want to let someone’s negativity spoil your day.
At the same time, you don’t want to make them feel like you’re having a dig them by being confrontational. So by you handling the situation, you can show compassion, find out more about what’s making the person act his way, and potentially help.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 ways to deal with negative and difficult people so get the best out of them and the situation:
Don’t Cast Judgment
No one likes to be judged, and it’s always a bad practice. It makes it hard to be compassionate and understanding when you think you have them all figured out. If you have made your mind up that someone is just difficult, or annoying, you’re not going to dig any deeper.
It is always possible for someone to change, and change quite drastically. Never assume it will never happen. Always be positive too, regardless how negative they are being. It can be tempting to just agree with them, but adding extra negativity isn’t what negative people need.
Show Concern, but Don’t Get Too Involved
People giving off all kinds of negative emotions often want some love and support. Showing concern is what any friend would do, but be careful not to get too tangled into their web. Don’t be overly compassionate to the point that they think you are supporting their behavior.
Tell them you understand their pain, and you are there to help them in any way you can. But you are not there to go along with the things they are saying if you don’t agree.
Have a Positive Aura
It’s one thing to be open minded and sympathetic to others, but maintaining a positive aura is a must. Being a positive thinker keeps you motivated, energized, and allows you to see and make decisions clearly.
Don’t get sucked into negative thought processes. It’s a windy spiral into things much deeper and worse. There are a range of mental illnesses associated with being negative, such as depression and anxiety. If you feel too overwhelmed by negative people create some distance.
Don’t Get Frustrated
It’s all too easy to get frustrated with someone that is being difficult. But this will lead to you getting upset, or angry and potentiality saying something you regret. Be self-aware of your own boundaries and patience. If you feel you are losing your patients then take a break, tell the person you have to go.
People being difficult are often looking for conflict, if you sense a volatile situation developing then walk away and take a break.
Don’t Let Them Rant for Too Long
As mentioned earlier, part of being a good friend means listening your friends problems. Trying to understand their point of view, and being compassionate. But your part as a friend also means knowing when to step in and redirect the conversation.
It’s all too easy to feel like you’re helping out, kind of like a psychiatrist, when really you’re not qualified. There is a line between where a friend can help, and where professional help is needed. So set out some boundaries, and stick to them.
Don’t Get Emotional
We are not robots, and no one is beyond being roped in emotionally into someone else s world, but allowing emotions to get involved can muddy the waters. Negative people are often emotionally driven, and feed off the emotions of others. Keep your emotions in check.
Bouncing emotions back and forth is a sure way to escalate a situation. Keep a cool head and control over the situation. How you act is as important as what you say, always conduct yourself with self-control.
Ask Yourself What You Get from the Friendship
No two friendships are equal, and that’s fine. But it may be time to ask yourself what you are gaining from a friendship with someone who is always difficult and negative. Do you feel emotionally drained from the amount of time and effort you’re putting in?
Some people are not ready to be helped. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend from distancing yourself, when they finally get help they will find you when they are ready. They should understand why you distanced yourself, and thank you for all the help you gave them.
Remember It’s a Form of Mental Illness
Depression, anxiety, negative thinking, they’re are all forms of mental illness. Someone’s mental state has a large impact on their lives, if they are difficult to their friends and family, they are difficult with themselves too. It’s not a switch that flips off and on.
It’s sad to see someone suffering from the effects of negative thinking. They have a lot of pain, and often only find solace in seeing others suffer too. As discussed throughout this article, do what you can within your limitations of being a friend.
Don’t Take It Personally
When dealing with negative people you should never take anything they say personally. It’s easier said than done when they are making personal attacks and comments, but there is a good chance they don’t mean it.
We all say things we don’t mean when we are angry, or being negative. Don’t get upset or take things personally at the time, but be sure to clear the air at a later date. Just because it’s a hot headed moment, doesn’t mean you aren’t owned an apology.
Instead of Reacting, Start Acting
Often is the case that we wait until someone is depressed or angry before reacting and seeing what we can do. But spotting the warning signs and taking action is a much better preventative action.
You can make a big difference in little ways. Like paying them compliments, checking they are ok, seeing if they want to go and do something fun. We all need our spirits lifted from time to time, make the first move and see what you can do.
You cannot help everyone, or make the world a perfect place. But you can make a huge difference to those you care about, and a small difference to the world.
By referring to some of these methods and ways to deal with negative and difficult people, you should be able to neutralize situations, and make them less stressful on yourself.
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.
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