How to Deal with Negative People

In late March the folks at published an article that contained some great career advice from Lori Radun called “7 Ways to Deal With the Negative People in Your Life.”  As you know, I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with positive people.  Positive people help build your self confidence and help you on your journey to life and career success

 I also think that negative people can really hold you back on your career success journey.  In fact, Tweet 50 in my career advice book Success Tweets says, “Jettison the negative people in your life.  They are energy black holes.  They will suck you dry; but only if you let them.”

 I also realize that this is easier said than done.  Sometimes the negative people we encounter are in our family, sometimes they are coworkers.  We all have deal with negative people on occasion.  That’s why I like Lori’s article.  Here are her seven bits of career advice on dealing with negative people.

  1.  Let the negativity pass.  No one is in a negative mood 100% of the time.  Don’t argue with people when they’re in a negative mindset.
  2. Give positive – not negative – attention to negative people.  Often their negativity is nothing more than a cry for attention.
  3. Focus on the positive.  Look for the positive in the situation. It can be difficult to find, but there is something positive in almost any situation.
  4. Ask negative people to elaborate.  Often, negative people speak in absolutes – “always” or “never.”  Asking for specific examples can help you take some of the negativity out of the situation.
  5. Don’t try to change the negative person.  Let him or her vent.  You don’t have to agree with what he or she says, but you can tone down the negativity by just listening.
  6. Avoid negative people if you can.  As I’ve mentioned above, sometimes you have to interact with negative people.  However, do your best to minimize your contact with them.
  7. Keep your own negative thoughts and behaviors in check.  You can choose your attitude.  Choose to be positive.  Be grateful for the positive things in your life and you’ll be better equipped to deal with negativity when it pops up.

 I like all seven of Lori’s points, but I particularly like Point 2, Give positive – not negative attention to negative people.  Tweet 105 in Success Tweets says, “Conversation tips: be warm pleasant, gracious and sensitive to the interpersonal needs and anxieties of others.”  This is doubly true when it comes to dealing with negative people.  They need kindness and support too.  Sometimes your kindness may be just what they need tohelp them get over their negativity.

Tweet 106 in Success Tweets says, “Demonstrate your understanding of others’ points of view. Listen well and ask questions if you don’t understand.”  This is another way of providing positive attention to negative people.  How do you show provide positive attention to a negative person?  Lori Radun says “You must listen to what he or she is trying to tell you.”  Great point.  Engaging, listening, and asking questions shows a negative person that you are paying attention.  Often, that is all the positive attention they need.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  We all have to deal with negative people on occasion.  When it comes to dealing with negative people, successful people follow the career advice in Tweet 105 in Success Tweets.  “Conversation tips: be warm, pleasant, gracious and sensitive to the interpersonal needs and anxieties of others.”  Inviting negative people to participate in a conversation in which you really listen to what they have to say is an important, but often overlooked conversation skill.  When you invite a negative people to join a conversation about what is bugging them, you give them positive attention and help them deal with their negativity.  If you want to become adept at dealing with negative people, follow all seven of Lori Radun’s points but focus on point 2 — give them positive – not negative attention.  Engage negative people in conversation.  Your relationships with them will improve, and you might help them deal with some of their negativity.  This simple common sense career advice can make your life a lot more pleasant and put you on the road to the career success you want and deserve.

That’s my take on the common sense career advice I found in Lori Radun’s article on dealing with negative people.  What do you think?   Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career advice  book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of common sense career advice explaining each of the tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.

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  1. I’m curious if negative people misplace the negativity. I had a good friend try to cut all contact with me claiming that I am always negative, and that they want nothing to do with negative people. I was worried because I never saw anything that I said or did as negative. I was going through a small issue of depression, but was getting help while trying to stay positive. I asked many of my friends, yet all my friends told me that I am far from negative yet always sweet speaking positively and uplifting.

    It got me into thinking that they may be the negative person if they interpret everything I have said in a negative light while everyone else and myself recognize what I say as positive.

    How do we go about figuring this out?

  2. Nicolas:
    Thanks for your comment. You’re right, sometimes people project on to us, what they see in themselves. Without knowing more about the specifics of the situation your describe, I can’t give you a more solid answer.
    Best of luck as you go forward,

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