Negative people show up in all walks of life. As an undercover FBI agent, I couldn’t pick and choose the people I met. So, I learned to get along with everyone, even negative people who were downright toxic. Often I was forced to spend time with people who felt trapped by their life and blamed others for their situation.
What are the characteristics of negative people? They are soul-sucking individuals who take but never give back. Often, they refuse to accept responsibility for their failures. Blame others for their hardships. Possess no desire to improve themselves. Search out and find the negative in everything they see. They then pass on those observations to everyone around them. Have I missed anything?
I’m picky about the friends with whom I spend time. It’s important to be surrounded who uplift, energize, and encourage those around them. I’ve always believed that the people with whom I surround myself will either make or break my success.
My undercover experiences made me realize that many people go to work every day and find themselves surrounded by colleagues and associates who are losers. Losers are people who are depressed, unhappy, frustrated, or angry about their situation in life.
Negative people often become toxic.
It takes mental toughness to walk into the same situation day after day and face the negative attitudes of others. And, not let it rub off on you. That negative shit can be catching! We need to find ways to get along with the people without becoming depressed or frustrated ourselves.
Here are 4 things to understand if you want to get along with negative people:
1. Catch the Right Attitude
Negative attitudes catch on more easily than positive ones. The reason is our survival-driven, limbic system in the brain is powerful. It has kept us safe for centuries by alerting us to negative information that warns us of danger. Negative stimuli produce more neural activity than positive stimuli. Social psychologists explain that negative information is like velcro while positive information is like teflon. Negativity is stickier; we take it more seriously and pay more attention to it.
Tip: We don’t need to run from negative information because it creates anxiety or fear in us. Do not let the negativity of others affect your well-being. Instead, handle negative information and do one of the following:
- write in a journal
- focus on a positive thought for 20 seconds or more
- talk it through with a trusted friend
These activities will move you from the emotional brain to the part of the brain that thinks.
2. Groupthink is Strong
Once a negative synergy develops within a work environment, it’s tough to break the culture that’s been established. Groupthink is strongly associated with survival. To express a contrary view places us at risk of being ostracized. Negative behavior is sometimes encouraged by leadership so watch your step. Make sure you understand your organization’s culture and groupthink.
Tip: Walk into work every day and understand that your co-workers and colleagues are heavily influenced by the message sent from leadership. We tend to give more heft to messages delivered from people in authority. If you’re trying to bring positivity into the conversation, you must be seen as a person of influence.
3. Keep Your Mental Chatter Positive
The way in which we speak to ourselves is one of the best indicators of our chances of success. Because of our negativity bias, our mental chatter is up to 70% negative.
We often assume that when a person uses positive language, it’s an accurate indication of their attitude. However, studies have shown that behavior is a far more reliable predictor of what a person really thinks than the words they speak. People can appear positive on a superficial level when they use the right words. But their loser behavior is a far better indicator of what is going on inside their head.
Tip: When negative people surround us, we need to recognize when their negativity affects our own mental chatter. Research shows that we say between 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every minute. Train yourself to speak and think in positive terms. You can “override fears” that are stimulated by the continual negativity of others.
4. Maintain a Positive and Realistic Attitude
Researchers have drilled down into the science of positivity. The positivity of Normal Vincent Peale quotes may seem trite to some. However, there is ample evidence to suggest that a positive attitude makes a difference. You can either survive your circumstances or thrive in a world that you create.
When we are positive, we are able to look reality in the face and not flinch. Positive thinking is not sugar-coated phrases or optimism that insists circumstances will change.
Tip: Often, your circumstances will not change and you must decide how you will continue to move forward anyway. Be positive and believe your destiny is in your hands.
Be an example to the negative people around you. Help them identify what they are good at. Encourage them to focus on those positive qualities. Once they do, they may believe they are more than passive observers in their own life.