If there is one thing that can blow your own motivation right out of the water, it’s finding yourself in the company of a negative person. Negativity seems to be infectious and, if you’re not careful, it will rub off on you. But, how can you help someone who is constantly negative without getting sucked into the mood yourself? If you know someone who is feeling down and in the dumps, then here are eight practical tips on how to deal with difficult people in your life:
1. Protect your own happy space
Our first tip on how to deal with difficult people is – don’t get sucked into their negativity. Be on your guard and protect your own happy space, when talking to a negative person. Stay positive in your own mind and avoid simply agreeing with them, as this won’t help them and it may bring you down too.
2. Care about them and try to listen to what they have to say
It might be tempting to run a mile to get away from a negative person, but having someone to just listen to them might be what they need. Don’t just witch off when they talk either, this will just compound their thoughts that no one cares about them.
3. Don’t agree and don’t stay silent
Just agreeing that the world is a rotten place to be won’t help them, but neither will it be of much use, if you just sit there in silence and make no comments at all. To help them, you need to gently challenge their negative assumptions; silence will only infer your agreement.
4. Get them to focus on one simple, positive thing
Another good tip on how to deal with difficult people is – don’t try and fix their problems for them. Don’t try to be an amateur psychiatrist and think that you can solve their problems for them in a day. Try instead to get them to focus on one simple positive thing to take their minds away from the negative things. It could be as simple as talking about what’s on TV, how bright and sunny it is today, or how much fun you had together the last time that you met. Even if you give the person only a short respite from the negativity, it’s a start.
5. Give them a chance to vent their emotions
Our next tip on how to deal with difficult people is – give them time to get things off their chest, before you try to change the subject. Diverting the topic of conversation away from their problems immediately will only add to their feeling of isolation. Let them have ten minutes venting first, then they know you care enough to listen.
6. Try to bring their problems into perspective
Negative or depressed people tend to do what the psychiatrists call catastrophizing. That is, they see things as being far worse, than they really are. Challenging those thoughts, along with a bit of empathy, can help them see the truth, through phrases such as: ‘I understand why you would think that, but…’
7. Be prepared to accept them as they are
You can only try so hard to cheer a person up, so know when to quit, or you won’t be thanked for your efforts. Some people just are more negative, than others, it’s the way that they are made and, strange as it may sound, they are quite happy being a moaner and a groaner.
8. Encourage them to seek help, if you are really worried about them
It’s a difficult topic to raise to someone, but if they are really down and you think that they might be suffering from depression, then you should encourage them to see a doctor. An estimated one in ten Americans experience depression in the course of their lives, so it’s not unusual and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. To make it easier, you could suggest that the person sees a doctor to get something to perk them up a bit, rather than actually using the term ‘anti-depressant’.
Do you have some other tips on how to deal with difficult people? Please, share your thoughts in the comment section below.