Staying POSITIVE Around NEGATIVE People

By: David Shoup | Relationships | Action Resources

The other day I was forwarded a wonderful question as a result of a phone call that I felt was appropriate to address in a post. It is my hope that this will be beneficial and provide some insight to all who read this:

“…how can we stay positive when we are around negative people, (specifically) family members and/or co-workers?”

I love this inquiry for two reasons: One, it is specific and two; it is something we can all relate to at least at one point in our lives. It’s not uncommon to have that one family member who undoubtedly, by their mere presence sucks the vitality out of us with their negativity. I would go so far as to say nearly all of us have at least one in our family (If you are in complete disagreement than that negative person may be you). It is also not unusual to work with someone who brings us down by his or her constant doom & gloom attitude. I call the people above Positive Energy Sucking Twits (PESTs)

In any scenario I would recommend we simply avoid spending any length of time with that person, but I realize in this situation it poses a challenge since avoiding our family members or co-workers completely is not too likely.

So, what do we do? I have three ideas that I’ve been fortunate to pick up both from wiser individuals then myself as well as trial and error that will be of help. When we find ourselves in this dilemma, I encourage us to roll out (what I’d like to call) the MAT system for them.  (M = Model preferred behavior, A = Avoid engaging & T = Tell them)

1)   Model the Preferred Behavior you’d like to see from them. Put another way, be the change you’d like to see. If you would like a different result you must take a different approach and it may mean showing the troublesome family member or co-worker how to behave around you by acting in the manner you wish to see from them. It will require patience and positive encouragement, but is absolutely possible.

2)   Avoid Engaging in their Drama. Have you ever found yourself stooping to the level and mindset of the person you are with? When we jump on the “complaining bandwagon” with these PESTs we are encouraging more complaining and tying them closer to us. Conversely, when we stop engaging in their drama and, either ignores the antics entirely or finds something positive to add our PEST will most likely move onto someone else and join their bandwagon.

3)   Tell Them. Sometimes we simply need to confront the person and tell them. If they are someone we truly want to be around, rather than subject ourselves to more mental anguish and turmoil, it is essential that we take the time and energy to relate to our difficult family member or co-worker what we are experiencing and would we would like to see happen. Once that is accomplished the “ball is in their court.” It is possible that this person had no idea they were being such a PEST. Most people we care about are not deliberately trying to bring us down and until we have the courage to let them know, they may continue to act in a way that is incongruent with what we would like to occur.

So, when we apply one or all elements of the MAT system then we are maximizing the possibility of having the outcome we desire with regards to our PEST. By applying these steps, it removes the victim mindset that tends to accompany our feelings towards our PESTs. By taking responsibility for our actions and behaviors we have more control and therefore are less subject to erratic emotions and ultimately we feel better, more empowered.

I hope this has been beneficial and thank you! Have a great week.