Ever feel like other people’s negativity is bringing you down? In my experience, most days we are exposed to the whole spectrum of situations.
Some, we perceive as positive, others neutral, and others negative. If the unpleasant ones seem to be the majority in your life, it’s great to know that you can do something about it and get better at overcoming negativity.
By the way, negative experiences are a natural part of life.
Boss got up on the wrong side of the bed today and is a bit cranky? Spouse had a rough day at work and is being really vocal about it?
Part of life.
But that’s just part of the story.
Though we may not care to admit it, what other people think about something can actually affect what we think about it. This is how critics become influential and why our parents’ opinions about our life choices continue to matter, long after we’ve moved out.
But what kind of opinions have the most effect? A 2007 study in the Journal of Consumer Research provides hint.
The study showed that negative opinions cause the greatest attitude shifts, not just from good to bad, but also from bad to worse.
“Consumer attitudes toward products and services are frequently influenced by others around them. Social networks, such as those found on Myspace and Facebook suggest that these influences will continue to be significant drivers of individual consumer attitudes as society becomes more inter-connected,”
explained the study’s authors Adam Duhachek, Shuoyang Zhang, and Shanker Krishnan.
And these situations can set you up for potential negative mindsets and experiences. So how can you best respond to negative stimuli when they occur, as they inevitably will?
Try these strategies for dealing with negative people:
1. Step back
Acknowledge that getting involved in negativity is not good for you. The first thing to do is recognize the results of jumping into the stream of negativity. If you truly connect with the idea that you wish to bring only positivity into your life, you’ll be more focused on making efforts to do so.
- Commit to yourself that you’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid engaging with negativity. Having the awareness that negativity runs counter to your life goals will motivate you to abstain from participating in it.
2. Listen well; then withhold comment
Negative friends’ remarks can feel quite seductive. Many of us allow ourselves to be pulled in to the emotional experience of the situation being discussed. However, if you listen actively, but refrain from commenting, you can avoid making the experience your own.
- Plus, those who are bringing negativity your way will avoid doing so in the future since you didn’t sign on with their emotional reactions and did nothing to reinforce them.
3. Change the subject
When you’ve just heard some unsavory words, why not bring up something that’s less stressful and more positive? For example, if your co-worker says she’s annoyed with your supervisor, you could ask her how another project she’s pleased to be working on is progressing.
4. If you’re in a group, simply ignore the negativity
Most likely, if there are two or three others present when an unconstructive discussion starts up, you can get by with ignoring the negativity or excusing yourself from the room.
Sometimes, you can express the most by saying nothing at all.
5. Make an effort to be involved in something else
Involving yourself in something that matters to you is a great method of subliminally refusing to participate in others’ negativity.
Look through your handbag for that receipt you couldn’t find last night. Search your briefcase for your schedule book or that file with the information you wanted earlier.
6. Psychologically reinforce your efforts
Say to yourself, “You handled that really well.” or “It was a great idea to leave the table when they all started criticizing how the boss handled something.” Allow yourself to feel proud of yourself about not joining in with the negativity around you.
Avoid letting others’ negativity bring you down. Instead, recognize that you’d rather not be exposed to such situations and people.
When negativity blooms around you, listen and say nothing, change the subject, or ignore it. As I mentioned before, reinforce your efforts to avoid habitual negativity every single day, and you can say good-bye to unconstructive thoughts.