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How to Stay Positive Around Negative People

By Jennifer Garza

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”  ~ Oprah Winfrey

Human beings, by nature, are empathic. We intuitively pick up on vibes, including negative ones. If we’re not careful, we absorb them and send them back into the Universe. Not only is this unhealthy, it’s just no fun!

Below are tips on how to disconnect from negative people in your life.

Limit contact
Did you ever notice how dealing with certain people leaves you feeling drained? Limiting contact with toxic people can keep you from being mired down in negativity. If you must have contact with the person in question – say a co-worker or ex-spouse – focus on ways to limit contact and diffuse potential negative interactions without sacrificing your voice or power.

For instance, avoid a co-worker’s penchant for gossip by taking your lunch breaks in a different area. Or exchange custody of your children via a third party.

TIP: Do a cost/benefit analysis. If the cost outweighs the benefit, then distance yourself from that person.

Avoid reacting
During conflict with a negative person, avoid reacting or engaging. If you take the bait, you will get hooked. Taking the high road doesn’t have to mean not standing up for yourself. Simply state your stance without making reference to the person’s negative opinion, belief or attitude.

TIP:  When faced with a person’s negativity, remind yourself it has little to do with you and is mostly due to their thoughts or feelings. Separate the negativity or attack from the issue or problem. Once the issue is identified, concentrate on discussing a solution, leaving out any counter-attacks of your own.

Establish boundaries
Boundaries are key when dealing with negative people. It may be a hard conversation, but if handled with finesse, can be liberating.

Suppose you have a sister who becomes verbally abusive on the phone when you disagree with her point of view. Let her know that you are no longer willing to be the brunt of her abuse. Convey your feelings about her behavior in a non-confrontational manner.

Say something like, “When you call me names, it hurts my feelings. It’s not fair to me, and from now on when this happens, I’ll be hanging up the phone.” Either your sister will change the way she interacts with you, or your phone calls will become very short. Either way, you’re teaching her to treat you with respect.

TIP: Look up “I statements” on the Web and study how to use them in conversations.

Jennifer Garza, M.S., has a master of science in counseling and psychology. She is a former therapist and has taught life enhancement classes at venues including college campuses, state conferences and prisons. She is the author of the inspiration journal “365 Days to Happiness: Use Your Strengths, Thoughts, and Dreams to Manifest a New Life.” Garza has been featured in Natural Health magazine, AOL, BusinessInsider.com, Young Entrepreneur.com, and on FTNS radio. Visit her website at www.authorjennifergarza.com or connect with her on Facebook

3 thoughts on “How to Stay Positive Around Negative People

  1. larry chafin says:

    Very insightful. Well thoughtout makes me want to stop engaging these people. Very good article and way of thinking.

  2. Kevin Bradley says:

    I agree with some of your advice (especially to avoid reacting), but simply avoiding negative people does not solve the problem and ultimately condones the behavior by not addressing it. The best model I have found is in The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz: 1) Be impeccable with your Word; 2) Don’t take anything personally; 3) Don’t make assumptions; 3) Always do your best.

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