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Kokoro's avatar

How do you not be affected by negative people?

Asked by Kokoro (1419points) July 16th, 2010

I have a friend that I used to enjoy being around, but as you get to know her you realize she is insecure, holds on to her past, makes every situation about her and loves to guilt trip. I tried explaining her behavior to her once and she got angry at me, even insulting me personally. She apologized the next day and became better – but she bounced back to her old ways in no time. I decided that trying to talk to her again would do nothing so I did not respond. I try to be polite when I see her or when she messages me, but I want to avoid her as much as possible. I imagine she must think I don’t care or am a jerk, but I don’t know what to do. She brings me down too much. Is there a better way to go about this? I constantly tried to help bring herself up but she has always wanted to stay down.

Second scenario… my co-worker has been exhaustiing me to no end. She LOVES to gossip, and in our job we have a lot of private information about our workers that we are not allowed to talk about. She will come up to me and say, “I read about ____! WOW!” and general talking about people as well. She is always negative, “I don’t want to do this or that” and I’ll ask “Why?” and she says, “Jsut cause…” etc. She complains if we have to stay late, she complains about everything and can find the bad in anything and complain about it. She will take tons of breaks and feel no guilt.

It drives me UP THE WALL! I’m not as confident as I used to be because these people have been bringing me down so bad. Too much negative energy. How do I get myself back and stay strong? I can’t get away from my co worker…

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25 Answers

ItsAHabit's avatar

Avoid them like the plague.

josie's avatar

The problem is that you can not actually avoid being affected by them anymore than you can avoid a bad smell around a latrine. You have to stay away from them if at all possible, because they will eventually poison your spirit. If you can not avoid them, then you have to have lots of positive counterweights in your life (friends, activities, hobbies, exercise) to neutralize the effect.
BTW, this is one of the reasons why I so thoroughly hate the government. Talk about a relentless downer day after day. It is no wonder that so many people take serotonin reuptake inhibitors these days.

Austinlad's avatar

I can usually avoid them at the office by closing my door, and I live alone, so the only person I have to deal with who’s negative from time to time is ME.

Kokoro's avatar

I don’t know why I feel so bad for her… she feels no empathy towards anyone else, so I wonder why I do towards her? I know I need to move on.

The harder situation is my co worker. I can’t avoid her as our desks are in the same room. One week I felt like I was going to explode. I sat in the bathroom just I could have some moments of peace. I am trying to be positive outside of work, and it usually is – but I work 5 days a week so it’s hard to balance…

poofandmook's avatar

If you make an extra effort to be positive, but not sickeningly so, sometimes it helps other people too.

Jude's avatar

I distance myself from them.

If it’s family, I tend to stay away, as well.

I’m tired of dealing with drama, Debbie Downers and Crabby Patties.

Facade's avatar

I’m normally that negative person. I don’t really mind moderate, legitimized negativity. Excessive positivity is very annoying.

HoneyBee's avatar

Try to keep your interaction with the negative people you can’t all together avoid at an extreme minimum and then as someone else said try to balance it out by doing lots of positive things and even surrounding yourself with positive people.
And as for the gossip, I’ve found that staying out of it is the best thing for me.
Hope this website helps because I know how draining being around those kinds of people can be.
It’s a real downer but let them bring you down. When you do that you’re giving away your power.

jfos's avatar

1) You shouldn’t avoid your problems.

2) As far as your coworker goes, you should confront her in private. It wouldn’t be so wrong to sit her down and say, “I don’t mind you as a person, but I don’t want to hear your gossip, etc…”

3) An optimistic attitude would be to “use their negativity to boost your positivity.”

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’d tell them both something because you need to set some boundaries. They’re acting that way around you because they can.

To your friend, I’d say some version of, “I know we’ve discussed this before, and since it made you so angry, i won’t go through that again. But I’m letting you know that I can’t deal with your negativity anymore and it makes me want to stay away from you.”

To your co-worker, you can be a bit more firm: “We are not supposed to discuss their personal information. I’m not here to gossip about these people. I’m here to work.” Don’t engage. Don’t ask her why. When she starts the negativity stuff, just say, “I’m sorry to hear that.” “Well, good luck with that.”

Stick up for yourself. When you do talk to them otherwise, no matter what, keep your positivity. Set up some boundaries within yourself. How they think or act or what they say has nothing to do with you. Remember that, and don’t allow their stuff to affect you.

mattbrowne's avatar

Emotional firewall. First of all, I avoid people that are too negative. If it can’t be avoided – for example in my professional life – I keep the time spent together to a minimum. At our company I maintain a network of dozens of people from all sorts of departments and locations. It’s important to be well connected. One of my requirements is an overall positive attitude. It is a choice to have people in one’s network or not. Everyone is down from time to time and it’s a good idea to support each other.

stardust's avatar

It’s such a drain being around negative people. In my own experience, the best thing for me was to get them out of my life, which was not easy. It’s a breath of fresh air all the same though when you’re free from that.
As you can’t avoid your work colleague, I’d suggest either talking to her keeping it strictly about work or doing things to keep yourself really positive.
Put all of the energy back into yourself.

Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you – David Whyte

Cruiser's avatar

I have little patience for chronic complainers and will distance myself or avoid them altogether. I realize the need to get things off your chest but the incessant blathering about all the things crummy in their lives wears thin quickly. If it is someone I have to interact with I will be direct and suggest they rethink their need to bitch and moan about everything and even go so far as to tell them if they don’t have anything positive to say then STFU.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t feel like I’ve ever been around anyone like this. Most people I know try to be constructive, even though they can’t be happy or positive. Circumstances just don’t warrant it.

I guess I’ve heard one or two complainers. They go on ad nauseum. Usually I just don’t listen unless I have to.

I think these people just want someone to talk to. They often seem to be lonely. They also tend to have poor social skills—which might not be their fault.

If possible, I try to train them. This is only if I have to be with them. I use body language and sometimes overt responses for the training. It’s something I do by instinct, though. I just shut them out when I’m not interested or tired of them.

As to being affected—that’s your choice. You don’t have to be affected—drawn down—by them. Mindfulness techniques help here. You learn to let go of your feelings without focusing on them much. You can listen with focus, yet without engaging your annoying feelings. If you can’t get rid of them or stay away from them or retrain them, then I’d learn to control my own feelings and reactions.

Aster's avatar

In my view, most everyone has this plastered smile on their face.
No one looks negative. But when you really get to know them most are very negative. Not nasty; just pessimistic. At That point, we connect. I’m bouncy and smiling and, “Hi!” when someone meets me but I don’t feel like that inside. I’m a major worrier and I think it’s appropriate. I do, however, laugh and smile when I get up and the dogs see me. ((-;
The most negative person I know is my first daughter. I keep my distance. Everyone else is totally bearable.

Jabe73's avatar

I don’t know what to tell you here. Try being around a whole group or clique that is like this then you will know what a real nightmare is. Suck-ups at work are even worst yet.

You can avoid your friend but not your co-worker as easily. I would just tell your co-worker you do not want to hear it. Usually people will get the hint (they may not take too kindly to this however). As for your friend I do not know what to tell you. Some people are just wired to be negative but some maybe just going through a hard time in their lives. Its up to you to keep yourself strong and positive.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Don’t engage in the discussion, no matter what they say. If you have to speak always bring it back to work or another matter at hand, not the draining discussion. Never be swayed from th tactic.
They will soon learn and either stop talking about it or dump you. Either way, you win.

BoBo1946's avatar

Oh, you cannot avoid negative people. I’ve relatives, friends, and once, had co-workers that were negative. How other people think should never have a bearing on your happiness. I’m happy around negative people, positive people, green people, purple people, etc. Being happy is within yourself…nothing external should change that.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I no longer go out of my way to try and ease them as I once did. Instead I avoid as much as possible and am learning more and more ways to nip conversations in the bud, change the subject or say out loud I don’t want to talk about whatever it is. I am learning not to feel self conscious if not everyone likes me and it’s okay for people I don’t respect or care for to know where they stand as long as I’m not abusive or offensive. When I go home, even if I have some crabby story to relate about work, I’m not nearly as affected as in years past. phew. It’s tough trying new things though, especially not wanting to be “the good guy”.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

@aprilsimnel I like your response very much.

With regard to the co-worker, I would also advise her that any further violations of employee confidentiality will be reported to human resources or the manager, owner, or whatever applies.

Her behaviour is grounds for dismissal if not legal consequences.

YARNLADY's avatar

You just have to learn to leave their problems where they belong, in the ignore room.

LostInParadise's avatar

With regard to your co-worker, I say fight fire with fire. The only thing worse than someone who is always negative is someone who is unremittingly optimistic. No matter what your co-worker says, put a positive spin on it. Whenever she says something negative about someone, find something nice to say. If you do this consistently, your co-worker will find someone else to annoy.

jazmina88's avatar


Myette's avatar

when speaking and theybecome negetive change the subject,or tell them if its a real good friend that you care about them but the neg vibes are not cool

dontdoit's avatar

My situation is fairly similar to the original post although the gossiping, negative person, lets call her “Mud Flinging Meg” (MFM), is in a leadership position and frequently uses her negative influence to cause people lose their jobs.

About a month ago an employee that we both worked closely with was fired and decided to write “Mud Flinging Meg” (MFM) a heart felt and professional e-mail describing how her behavior negatively impacted their career. The employee included me in the email and actually wished MFM well on her journey.

Soon after this e-mail I cut off all non-essential communication with MFM, going so far as to block her on company IM and I no longer respond to her emails or non-essential communications. I could care less if Meg thinks I’m jerk or rude. I do not want to be associated with the childish, hurtful and unprofessional behavior.

I also wish Meg the best and hope she can one day see how her virtual and verbal attacks reflect more on her than her victims.

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