Don't Rain on my Parade- How to Deal with Negative People
Have you noticed negative or difficult people around you are affecting your otherwise cheerful disposition (and how unfair is that)? Someone who knows nothing is making your life miserable. Why do Negative Nellie’s feel they need to unload their pent up vex at an unsuspecting person? What is up with the negativity causing conflict?
Studies by the institute of Heart Math suggest that we all give off energy that is either positive or contracting. Some people increase energy when they leave a room, and suck energy from the environment when they come in.As a conference keynote speaker i find that one negative person in an audience has the power to affect a lot of people. Inspiration plummets when one person enters or leave the room.
The unfortunate part is we tend to become like the people we are around the most. For instance, when you visit somewhere and people have accents you tend to take on the accent, people in groups tend to dress alike and take on similar characteristics.
The conflict comes because this may mean because you are around negative people you may become negative too! Yikes.
Listen to people complaining endlessly about work, and you'll find yourself starting to do the same. Add to it that negative emotions exert a more powerful effect in social situations than positive ones.
Unfortunately you can’t eliminate the negative person, but you can garner inspiration and find ways to deal with them. If you were around someone with an infectious disease you would probably take steps to reduce the risk. Negativity is infectious so it makes sense that we should ward it off.
Negative behaviors are defense mechanisms; they protect people from developing relationships, from taking risks, from getting in trouble or making mistakes. If you can permeate the wall there defenses hold up you have a hope of diffusing toxic emotions.
Make ‘em Smile!
Anger and negativity usually stem from the anxiety, fear response in the brain, -one of the oldest, most primitive parts of our brain. Also responsible for the fight or flight response, It reacts without thinking. From a Society for Neuroscience article on Bliss and the Brain: A scrutiny of brain activity indicates that individuals with natural positive dispositions have trumped up activity in the left prefrontal cortex compared with their more negative counterparts. "Happy people think more logically. If you can make someone smile or laugh you literally force them to use a different part of their brain that is more logical and reasonable. A person cannot be negative and smile or laugh at the same time. To be an inspiration; laugh and smile more often.
Let it roll off your back
Some people are just ANGRY. Negativity, hatred and disgust are boring and not worth your time. Sometimes these people are out there to help you develop your resolve to stay positive no matter what.
Distance yourself from negative people by taking a detached, impersonal view. The more you can see them as separate from yourself, the less likely you'll be to interpret their behavior as being a personal attack against you. It's just the way they are; you had nothing to do with it!
Adjust your tolerance. People who are easily annoyed have a low level of tolerance for inconveniences or frustrations. Think of yourself as “buoyant” and resilient in the face of stress and respond that way. Find out what triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.
As a guest speaker at a conference, we role play negative situations to give people practice. In the heat of the moment this practice run will be your saving grace.
If you are confident and feel good about yourself you are more likely to be buoyant to negativity and be a force for change.
Negative people try to validate their victim hood by pulling others into their warped view.
Don’t be their prey! Think of it this way, If someone were to say “Nice job of handling that”- what would you have done to deserve that comment?
Interrupt Negativity- When someone is heralding negative assumptions simply do something to distract from it or stop it. I love to do the unexpected because it literally halts a persons point of view and gets them thinking about something different. It is the whole premise of humor. It has to be unexpected to be funny (which is why you don’t laugh at a joke if you’ve heard the punch line before). As a humorous motivational guest speaker I have alot of experience with humor decreasing tension in a large room,it is a real morale booster.
Pass some perspective please.
Who says criticism requires anger? Who says doing overtime is a bad thing? It all depends on your perspective.
Negative accusatory people are likely inferring things that aren’t true. Their flawed assumptions are creating a negatively warped picture. Clear up the facts so you both see a clear picture.
Do you Fight? Or Flight?
My experience is under stress people either fight back or retreat. It is the classic fight or flight response at play. Your mind tends to respond to stressful situations as dangerous and immediately fights back to protect, or your retreat( run away, disengage) Physically within your body adrenaline pumps into your blood stream and stored fats turn into sugar for energy, your digestive and immune systems suppress and your focus become fight or flight.
This response was very useful for cavemen but much less adaptive for today’s society and acute sources of stress. For example, one of the key sources of dissatisfaction in the workplace today is lack of appreciation and our stress response to feeling unacknowledged would have us fight or retreat, making the situation worse. As long as all stress is seen as dangerous, which for a lot of people it is, than this fight or flight reaction can wreak havoc on your life. Prolonged continuous flight or flight reaction takes a strong physical toll on your health. The degenerative wear and tear leads to heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes and more.
The best thing to do is short circuit the fight/ flight response by refusing to react.
- Respond to stress by recognizing your pattern. Under stress do you typically fight (get angry, lose your temper) or flight (disengage, give in, or become passive)
- Reframe your attitude to perceive the stress as a challenge not a threat. If you feel a lack of appreciation challenge the situation and yourself to recognize why you are upset and how can you get the recognition you deserve.Seek out inspiration
Have a good laugh- we often laugh hardest when we have been feeling most tense. Just because you laugh doesn’t mean you don’t take it seriously.
Remember positive people ground your outlook so find inspiration from positive people and be around them.
The next time someone tries to rain on your parade and affect your sunny outlook you will know what to do about it.
Conflict management Activity
Define acceptable and unacceptable behavior. A good way to start the discussion is to place questionable behaviors on slips of papers and distribute them. In groups, go through and decide which pile they belong in: acceptable or unacceptable.
Some examples: Spreading the News that Someone is Getting a Divorce
Showing up Late for Work
Taking Credit for Someone Else Work
Agreeing to Take other Peoples Shifts
Leaving cell phones on during meetings
Shouting at a Client
Manipulating Others to Do your Job
Conflict Management Workshop Brainstorm Activities:
- Think of a conflict that helped you learn something about yourself
- What are the 5 Most Common Workplace Conflicts?( assumptions, lack of resources like time or money, etc)
- Come up with 10 things that really annoy you
Communicating in Conflict: Role Play certain conflict scenarios and write out things to say in high pressure situations
Diffuse the tension
Use "ï" not you ( never blame)
State the what bothers you and the specific behaviors you see
Ask for Something Different