The fears that negative people harbor manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including: • A thin skin, or the proclivity to take umbrage at others’ comments; e.g., “you look good today” is interpreted as, “you mean, I didn’t look good yesterday?
” • Judgmentalism, or the tendency to impute negative motivations to others’ innocent actions; thus, guests who don’t compliment a meal are judged as “uncouth brutes who don’t deserve future invitations.” • Diffidence: A sense of helplessness about one’s ability to deal with life’s challenges, leading to anxiety in facing those challenges, and to shame or guilt when the challenges are not met.
A straightforward, but ultimately unproductive way of helping negative people is to give them the respect, love, and control they crave.
However, this could be a slippery slope since people adapt to the new levels of respect, love, and control they get and thus, you may find yourself in the position of having to provide increasing levels of respect, love and control to keep the negative people happy.
”) Constant exposure to such negativity can make deep inroads into your bank of positivity, leading you to either become negative—diffident, anxious, and distrustful—yourself, or to become indifferent, uncaring, or even mean towards the negative person. A more practical approach to dealing with them is to start by understanding the reasons for their negativity.
In brief, almost all negativity has its roots in one of three deep-seated fears: the fear of being disrespected by others, the fear of not being loved by others, and the fear that “bad things” are going to happen.
This brings me to the final and, in my opinion, most tenable option for dealing with negative people.
In a nutshell, this option involves three elements: compassion for the negative person, taking responsibility for your own happiness despite the other person’s negativity, and maturity in how you interact with the negative person.
Our social nature is also the reason why being in love is one of the most cherished experiences and why isolation—the extreme form of which is solitary confinement—is rated, by those who were unfortunate to endure it, one of life’s most grueling experiences.
Both of these options, however, are unlikely to fix the problem.
In the case of gritting your teeth and hoping that the negative person becomes more positive over time, your passivity may be taken as a sign of acceptance that their negativity is justified.
Notice a common feature across all of these manifestations of negativity: the tendency to blame external factors—other people, the environment, or “luck”—rather than oneself, for one’s negative attitudes.
Thus, negative people tend to think, “If only people realized my true worth, if only people were nicer and the world wasn’t fraught with danger, and if only my friends, relatives, and colleagues behaved like I want them to, then I’d be happy!