We live in a world that is increasingly germ-a-phobic and ever cautious to avoid exposure to toxic chemicals, pesticides and waste. From carrying personal hand sanitizer to exchanging handshakes for fist bumps, most of us do all we can to avoid being contaminated. Few things are less comfortable than being stuck on a flight, in a classroom or office space that is full of deep coughing germ spreaders.
But what about toxic personalities??
Unfortunately, you may encounter toxic people regularly – family members, friends or coworkers – who manage to turn any situation into a negative experience. No matter what is said or done, they only see a glass-half-empty view of the world. These psychic vampires can drain your positive energy if you’re not careful.
We’ve talked in earlier posts about how to reduce disagreements with others. You may be able to choose your mentors or people who inspire you, but often, we don’t have a choice when it comes to family members, colleagues and others we encounter.
Many people who reside in a glass-half-empty world feel strongly about specific topics. If your father-in-law or coworker froths at the mouth every time The Affordable Health Care Act is mentioned, avoid this topic at all costs! Instead, try to introduce topics that might appeal to your negative companion but won’t invoke a strong negative reaction.
Even if you inwardly seethe each time your mother criticizes your spouse, job, appearance, kids, (insert anything), take a deep breath and let the comments slide off you. You can say something simple and non-inflammatory like, “I know you don’t agree, but that’s OK. So, how are things going with (insert something the person cares about)?” This gives the other person an opportunity to continue voicing their opinion, while removing you as the target of the negativity.
The most precious commodity you have is 1,440 minutes each day, so the last thing you want is to have those minutes wasted being barraged by negativity. While you may not be able to avoid the person entirely, plan ahead — can you sit in another place or go to a different part of the building to minimize interaction? Can you offer to do some task or chore for the person (rake the leaves, pick up take-out, etc.), which has two benefits — it will make them feel valued and gives you an opportunity to escape for a while!
If you regularly must interact with negative people in your world, speak with them about how their behavior makes you feel sad or unappreciated. Sometimes, people don’t realize they are being negative or critical, or what kind of toxic impact it can have on others. Explain you value and honor your relationship with them — and you’ll both gain far more from the relationship by avoiding negative behaviors.
Your boss, friend, colleague, family member, neighbor, etc. probably wasn’t always unhappy. Perhaps they experienced a significant loss, disappointment or hardship, which skewed their perception of the world. They may be insecure or overwhelmed about their personal problems and don’t know how to deal with their fears in any other way.
Be thankful you don’t swim in their sea of negativity. This doesn’t mean you have to endlessly listen to complaints or criticisms — it just means try to remind yourself to cut them some slack and show that you value your relationship regardless.
“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.” — Michael Jordan
Want to learn more about how to have more positive interactions and nurture strategic relationships in your life? WINology — World Class Performance will show you how, and how to think and act like a champion!
How do you deal with negative people in your life? Let us know in the comments section below!