Or it may be the church member who is always sharing unrequested opinions about how bad things are in the church.
Negative people – people who spend much more time discussing the negative, instead of the positive – can be very draining. It is hard enough to look past the negative issues in your life and focus on doing what you can to make things more positive.
One of the last things you need is the added burden of people regularly highlighting the negatives that you are trying to look past or other negatives that you were not even attending to.
In this article, I want to share seven keys for dealing with negative people. These ideas come from my book, Negative People: A Step-by-Step Christian Plan for Dealing With Mean and Nasty People (click here or go to http://amzn.to/2doYGSk to see the book).
1. Accept that you cannot change a negative person. Think about how no one can change you, nor do you want anyone to try to change you. In like manner, the negative people that you deal with feel similarly. Acceptance doesn’t mean agreement. It simply means that you know that “it is what it is, until it changes.”
Accept the fact that some people are normally negative, and after your best efforts, they may still be negative.
2. Negative people have their reasons for being negative. For some, the reason is respect. They may believe they are smarter than and more significant than they are being given credit for. And their way of gaining the credit they want is to be negative and complain.
For others, the reason is love. Many negative people feel unhappy and unloved. So, they complain and whine as a way of receiving at least some attention. Infants are not the only ones who cry and whine for attention.
Yet for others, the reason is fear of change. They can be so convinced that the new ideas are terrible that they take on the role of saving everyone from the terrible things that will happen, with their enthusiastic complaining.
3. Take care of yourself. Even though we are social creatures and desire to be in relationship with others, we have to acknowledge that we would be better off without the company of some people. You have to take responsibility for limiting how much interaction you have with negative people (see Ps. 1:1; II Cor. 6:14).
Avoid taking things personally, especially from people who don’t know you personally. There are some people who are chronically and irrationally negative. If you take their negativity personally, you are going to drive yourself crazy.
4. Grow from your pain. No matter how saved and mature we claim to be, when someone we care about is extra negative towards us, it hurts. Instead of denying that it hurts, give yourself permission to deal with what happened (i.e., 10 min., an hour, or a day, depending on what happened). I personally like to write it out on paper.
When you think about why it happened, remember that just as sure as dogs bark, birds fly, and snakes bite, negative people will be negative. Their negativity is not your fault.
There is always a lesson to learn. The lesson may be to put more distance in the relationship, to become emotionally stronger, and/or don’t act like the negative person. Instead of waddling in the pain, grow from it.
Take a look at the Inspiration From Psalm 23 Package (click here or go to http://bit.ly/2cO187B). It will encourage you to go through the valleys, instead of staying in them.
5. Try to help the negative person. This idea includes being a great example of how to be positive or at least not negative. “Helping” includes communicating your displeasure with the person’s negativity and then hearing the negative person out with empathy.
“Helping” also includes being supportive of their efforts to change, while also being strong with your personal boundaries.
Every now and then, you are able to help a person make a few improvements in their lives. You don’t want to be guilty of giving up on a person, before you even tried to help them.
6. Help develop positive alternatives. Do what you can to get the whining complaining negative person to shift from being a victim and problem describer to being a solution worker. In spite of their push back and resistance, ask for their recommendations for improvement. Ask them what they are going to do about their complaint.
If they appear to be unable to come up with alternatives, use questions like “Have you considered option 1, option 2, or option 3”? This empowers them to choose what they want to do. This is a better question than “Have you considered option 1”? This latter question lends itself to the complainer saying that it was your idea to which they simply said “yes.”
7. Consider how much distance to keep between you and the chronically negative. You can limit interaction with negative people, by simply spending less time with them. You can also create physical distance between you and the negative person (e.g., moving your work area; moving your seat at church; being in the front room, while they are in the back or vise-versa). You can interact with the negative person in a group.
As a last resort, sometimes the best thing to do is to cut your losses and adjust to the new reality, before you waste more time and energy.
If the person is in your inner circle and chronically negative, be very prayerfully about cutting them off. Sometime a good amount of distance but the ability to call one another when one needs the other is a better option than a total cut off.
There is a stronger case for cutting people off, when negative words become negative or abusive actions towards you or those you love (see I Cor. 5:6-7; II Cor. 2:5-11; Jm. 1:5).
Well, there are seven keys for dealing with negative people. If this material is interesting to you, I would strongly urge you to click here to check out the book (or go to http://amzn.to/2doYGSk). There is so much more information in the book, including how to develop a customized step-by-step Christian plan for applying the information to your life. There is also a great resource chapter for further study.
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