We’ve all experienced the impact of negative people. They can have quite an unwelcome influence on you or your stakeholders. They can strike at any time, usually in least appropriate moment. So what do you do? How do you ensure that a negative person doesn’t spread their influence? How do you deal with a negative person?

Don’t get into an argument. Don’t to debate with a negative person. A negative person likely has very staunch views and isn’t going to change that just because of what you said.
Empathize with them. Have you ever been annoyed by something before, then have someone tell you to relax? People who are negative (or upset for that matter) benefit more from an empathetic ear than suggestions/solutions.
Lend a helping hand. Some people complain as a way of crying for help. Take the onus to lend a helping hand.
Stick to light topics. Some negative people are triggered by certain topics. Simple things like new movies, daily occurrences, common friends, make for light conversation. Keep it to areas the person feels positive towards.

Ignore the negative comments. If he/she goes into a negative swirl, ignore it or give a simple “I see” or “OK” reply. On the other hand, when he/she is being positive, reply in affirmation and enthusiasm.
Praise the person for the positive things. Negative people aren’t just negative to others. Recognize the positive things and praise them for it.
Hang out in groups of three or more. Having someone else in the conversation works wonders in easing the load. In a 1-1 communication, all the negativity will be directed towards you.
Be responsible for your reaction.  Take responsibility for your perceptions. For every trait, you can interpret it in a positive and a negative manner.
Reduce contact with them or avoid them. If all else fails avoid them altogether. Your time is precious, so spend it with people who have positive effects on you.

What are your tips on dealing with negative people?

Above is based on article by Celestine Chua

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  11. Jennifer says:

    Thanks Barbara,
    Love the response. There are situations, for example working with a management leadership team, where some of these options aren’t always possible. For example dealing with negative executives/leaders in a leadership team.
    If possible, (depending on the person/situation) I try to use humour (self deprecating is good) to ensure others aren’t so threatened by new ideas/changes.

    By using a combination of positive reinforcement/self deprecative humour in a group situation, its possible to gain support from others in the team that can assist to defuse the negativity. For example, what if we tried doing X which is a minimal cost/brand risk and evaluated that against Y (the way we currently do it). If people have had a giggle with person A about person A’s enormous strengths. And uses.. just imagine if we did…xyz and it cost very little what would be the risk in doing that. At this point Mr. negativity needs to reject not only one person but potentially the whole team.

  12. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Manuel Koelman, Barbara Nowak-Rowe. Barbara Nowak-Rowe said: How To Neutralize Negative People?: We all have experienced impact of negative people. They can have qu… http://bit.ly/at28Xp #Leadership [...]

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