5 Easy Steps to Deal with Negative People

Written by Eric C., MA., PhD Candidate

Audio version available | Click here


“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” ~Joyce Meyer

1. Recognize and accept their toxicity
First and foremost, it is important to identify and accept that someone we know is a negative person. This can be difficult, especially when the person is someone we care about. Either way, we must be careful not to allow their negativity to transfer onto us. We need to accept that negativity is toxic and will only breed more negativity. It is especially important to avoid complainers. People who complain have given up hope that their actions can make any difference. We must be careful not to enable complainers by always listening to their woes.

2. Stop playing savior and/or problem solver
As human beings, we are wired to connect. For most of us, it is in our nature to lend a compassionate ear to someone who is in need. We must be careful not to let ourselves fall into the trap of negativity because we feel obligated to be helpful or nice. Keep in mind that negative people feed off spreading negativity to others.

3. Negative people are manipulative
Negative people learn how to discretely present themselves in a way that is disarming to others. Make sure to set your boundaries early with a person you have identified as negative. When a negative person meets someone who is positive, they will often ridicule, degrade or dismiss the person with the positive outlook. This is why negative people tend to surround themselves with other negative people. Keep in mind that a negative person will let you think they have “seen the light” just to throw it in your face the moment something does not go according to plan.

4. Don’t fight every battle
In the words of Mark Twain, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” This applies especially to negative people. Attempting to convince a negative person of something positive is a waste of time. As a result of trying to convince them you might even become the target for all of their negativity. I am not saying to avoid the battles that need to be fought, I am saying to choose your battles wisely.

5. Keep emotional distance
The most important thing to remember when interacting with a negative person is to not get too close emotionally. We cannot always avoid negative people in our lives. But, we can keep ourselves from emotionally investing in such a way that causes us to spiral from our own reactivity. Remember, you cannot always avoid being reactive, but you can avoid dwelling on the reaction and spiraling into a negative place.


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164 responses to 5 Easy Steps to Deal with Negative People

  1. Singledust says:

    I had such a negative force in my life before and I wrote about it in my previous posts. Your points further re-enforce my thoughts. The negative person also has very low self-esteem and so they need to live off bright and pure souls. the best way to deal with negative people is to be firm in your beliefs and stand strong against their onslaught. thank you for such a well-written post.

    Liked by 17 people

  2. Steven Reuter says:

    Very interesting post! I especially like the shift in your second post. It’s vital that we are able to take care of ourselves by advocating for our own needs. In this case, the need for space away from a toxic relationship. I am interested to what you think about honoring cultural and sub-cultural differences that may be drastic and seem toxic while maintaining a level of effective self-care.

    Liked by 9 people

    • Hi Steven, thank you for the comment. I think the foundation of effective self-care always begins with setting the appropriate boundaries. Depending on the specific culture or sub-culture, these boundaries may look different. I do think that negativity is fundamentally universal, because anyone can be negative. That being said, I think the strategies to approach a negative person will also be universal with only slight variations depending upon the specific culture.

      Liked by 5 people

      • Steven Reuter says:

        I completely agree! I feel that, ideally, the approach toward a negative individual would be the same as the approach toward anyone. Alfred Adler often spoke about how an individual’s actions are the active representations of their worldview. The way every individual behaves is the sum of their life experiences attempting to obtain a sense of significance, security, and belonging in their environment. He once wrote, “we must interpret a bad temper as a sign of feelings of inferiority.”
        While we must maintain our boundaries and surround ourselves with people who encourage us, resentment toward those we find negative would be best to avoid. This is only due to their behaviors being their best attempts to feel significant, safe, or belong. If we should feel anything for those who undermine themselves with their negative behaviors, it is sorrow. Their actions signify mistaken beliefs about the world and their place in it.
        Similarly, fundamentals of a worldview can be passed on from generation to generation and within cultures. In many ways, these worldviews are the building blocks of every culture. Motives that may seem negative in one culture are acceptable and even honored in others. There is a story of an African tribe, where one of the teenage boys went to the leader. he said, “I do not know what is happening to me, and I am afraid. I hear many voices speaking to me at all times.” The leader ask, “how many voices do you hear?” “12 in all,” he replied. The leader said, “those are the voices of our ancestors. It was decided long ago that he who hears the most voices of our ancestors is to be our leader. I only hear 11!”
        Finally, an explanation of behavior is never an excuse. Surround yourself with people healthy for you and don’t waste time trying to make relationships work that are draining!

        Liked by 9 people

    • jewels45 says:

      Living it is the key. There’s so much to be said about choosing your battles and not making unimportant things important. Just choose to live it and you will find out how much easier it really is. A little “housecleaning” works too! 🙂

      Liked by 5 people

  3. den169 says:

    Reblogged this on Merging Traffic and commented:
    I blogged a post on negativity earlier today. It was inspired by a real life situation and Eric’s post reblogged here. I encourage anyone interested in personal growth to visit his site.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. vshakvamantz says:

    Definitely need this. My parents are toxic and I’m looking at benign estrangement as an answer. Won’t be easy, but it’s harder knowing they’re pretending to regard my feelings and outlook. Best to not bring it around them until I know I’m strong enough to not be moved by their wheedling and underhanded maneuvering, much as I love them. Thanks for this

    Liked by 8 people

  5. Thanks for your thoughtful post. I have found that when I disengage with negative people they often escalate hoping to draw me back into their dance; and they are very good at it. Sometimes I’m back in the game without even realizing it.
    Thankfully, at this point in my life the vast majority of my relationships are with generally positive people

    Liked by 7 people

  6. A Kinder Way says:

    Love this post. I have my own, up close and personal story with an extremely negative person in my life. Someone I had to finally cut off entirely. This was not an easy choice, but one that had to be made.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. Miriam says:

    This is so true and some wonderful advice here. I once had a negative friend and she completely drained me, every time I got off the phone I felt sucked of all my energy. Great post.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. What a great post! Someone very close to me fits your description almost to a “T.” I constantly struggle not to react the wrong way, but it’s difficult. What you said about the ridicule of a positive outlook is so true. We cannot always avoid the negative person or put them out of our lives, but I do think that learning to deal with it and retain our own positive personality in the face of opposition can make us stronger. It all depends on how we use it, how we react to it.

    Liked by 11 people

  9. giggin1 says:

    Great post! I try not to deal with negative people. If I can’t avoid them I will just be as happy and joyful as I can. Negative people don’t like happiness, and will most like walk away. If this don’t work I will give them my ultimate negative people treatment: uplifting advice! Gets them everytime 💃👍

    Liked by 8 people

  10. ilianavillalobos says:

    Thank you for the like! I’m new to blogging, and I haven’t been able to discover any blogs because I really don’t know how to yet! But your topics look interesting and I look forward to reading them. 🙂

    Liked by 8 people

  11. TheNow says:

    “When a negative person meets someone who is positive, they will often ridicule, degrade or dismiss the person with the positive outlook. This is why negative people tend to surround themselves with other negative people.” This is so true!
    Awesome article!

    Liked by 7 people

  12. This is a wonderful article! These instructions are extremely effective. It is so difficult to break a connection with a negative person, but it is worth it.
    Thank you for posting this.

    Liked by 7 people

  13. Great Post, love it, Beautifull written. We want to help them but at the same time they bring us down. They often don’t want to help themselves. Sometimes a habit is formed and they are not aware of it. I think one needs to learn to be there but be detached so not get down. Always say you can do it, and cheer every small win. But from a distance send them lots and lots of love and good wishes, so that they heal, so that they come out of this negative cycle. If we get annoyed at them and keeping staying annoyed at them when we are not around them, we are adding to the toxicity of the situation. The power of thought and good wishes can melt things – may time take, but it is a positive win / win for both sides. Detached but loving.

    Liked by 12 people

  14. Imagine and believe them into a positive light and be astounded by the seamingly miraculous transformation before your eyes in what seems to the their existence. What may be learned is that the very negativity that seemed to have been of another was of your own self, and the choice to either deal with it in and of your own being or suppress it is your choice and achieved by your own volition and only within your own power to change the perception. By saying and believing that this or that person is ‘negative’ you have already judged yourself as being so and given them power that may otherwise be channeled into changing the author, deceiver and common denominator: your self.

    Liked by 9 people

  15. Love this post. I especially like the reminder about not enabling negative people by listening to them too much. This is something I am still practising to do. My partner is amazing at it. He just cuts the negative person up and calls them out. The look of shock and realisation on their face is priceless.

    Liked by 7 people

  16. TheSpoonMage says:

    “Stop playing savior and/or problem solver” – that’s me. I cannot stand the suffering of others. Problem is, there’s a dratted lot of suffering out there and that I cannot fix it all drags me down. I have told me quite firmly “you cannot save everyone”. Then I think, true, but if you win the lottery, you could start a foundation and help thousands. This one bit of advice will be difficult. I’ll keep on trying!

    Liked by 7 people

  17. Reading this post gave me a memory of someone that I had as a friend last year but I had to get rid of. He was very important to me but he was always so super negative. Everything stated on this post was exactly how he was. This opened my eyes even more. Great post and thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 8 people

  18. MRS. J says:

    You are clearly articluated great ways to deal with negative people. I love it. I know there are a lot of people who just get sucked into the toxic whirlpool and can’t find thier way out. I am blessed to say I have very healthy relationships with family, friends and coworkers, but you always know at least a couple people who seem to want to wallow in the toxic negativity.

    Liked by 7 people

  19. Pepper says:

    Reblogged this on In the Arena and commented:
    If we fill our heads and hearts with negativity, then there is no room for all the beauty and love that surrounds us. 5 great tips on how to cope with negative people.

    Liked by 7 people

  20. pjlazos says:

    Thanks for this. I especially have trouble with the second one which I have been working on for quite some time now. Trying not to be everyone’s savior. Not sure if it’s a female thing or just a first child thing, but whatever it is, I’ve got it — and it’s going away, but sooo slowly and only with real diligence on my part.

    Liked by 6 people

  21. robintgalt says:

    So good! I’ve had a negative person in my life for a long time — finally trying to get some emotional distance even though this person has somewhat reformed. In reading this I know how much the negativity affected me growing up. No more. Thank you for this list. I am going to keep it close.

    Liked by 6 people

  22. Nishant says:

    Great tips, Eric! Would you allow me to translate this post in Hindi for my inspirational/motivational blog Hindizen? I’ll post it with due credit.

    Liked by 7 people

  23. cherylfoston says:

    Eric, this is such a great post, and as you can see from all the comments there are a lot of people that can relate to this as well. I think at times it is easier said than done when dealing with negative people. However, you gave great outlets for us to use when doing so. The reason I say it is easier said than done, is because negativity is shown in various ways and can come from various sources ranging from family members to co-workers, to best friends to pure strangers. Yet, your technique helps deal with all varieties. Thanks, for sharing this.

    Liked by 8 people

  24. Eric thank you for sharing your thoughts and advice on how to deal with negative people. They can be so tricky to recognise and deal with as they are good at disguise but only for so long. Great post.

    Liked by 7 people

  25. robjlinds says:

    The lyrics of the great song “Walk Away” by Cast come to mind:

    If you’ve heard all they got to say, you looked but turned away
    Just walkaway, walkaway if you’ve said all you got to say
    Now the words just slip away, just walkaway, walkaway, walkaway
    That’s what they say, what they say, what they say, you gotta walkaway

    If you’ve played all the games they play, you played them yesterday
    Just walkaway, walkaway, if you’ve been where they want to go
    Seen all they got to show, just walkaway, walkaway, walkaway
    That’s what they say, what they say, what they say, you gotta walkaway

    Now you must believe me, you never lose your dreams
    So now you must believe me, we never lose our dreams

    If you’ve proved all there is to prove, got nothing left to lose
    Just walkaway, walkaway, if you’ve done all there is to do
    There ain’t nothing left for you, just walkaway, walkaway, walkaway

    Liked by 7 people

  26. Well said! I was always reminded that negative people are ones that suck the positive right out of you. I do my best to surround myself with people that make me feel good not those that bring me down. =)

    Liked by 7 people

  27. soulseerblog says:

    I love your topics and your insight . I really feel connected to your thoughts. I feel you have first hand experience with a negative person.
    You are what I love about blogging !
    Looking forward to reading more. L&L D

    Liked by 7 people

  28. Thank you for visiting my blog site. I loved your blog on dealing with negative people. Your repost of the thoughts shared by the 24 year old was an apt thing – appreciate that much

    Liked by 5 people

  29. Once again, love your writing. I’d add that people sometimes come around. I’ve known people who I thought were a lost case who open up after a year or two. It’s creepy sometimes but it does actually happen. Always look out for that in people was my big lesson.

    Liked by 8 people

  30. avid reader says:

    I don’t know how you manage to write posts that always strike a chord in.my life. I have faced negativity personally and have suffered immensely. I wish I had a friend or guide back then to point out things that you did. Looking forward to new posts

    Liked by 6 people

  31. lucciagray says:

    Love this post. Exactly how I feel and what I (try to) do. I had a really toxic colleague this year. In the end I drew a line and avoided her. But the problem was she was being hurtful and damaging with our students, so we all tried to help her undrstand the damage she was doing, including the principal. Short story; she’s leaving. I’m sure it was related to personal problems although she’d have us all believe her life was wonderful. She’s the worst colleague and teacher I’ve ever met and I still wonder how I/we could have coped better.

    Liked by 5 people

  32. Floating Speck says:

    This is such an important read for me. I need to read it every week to remind me when I am out in the real world

    Liked by 4 people

  33. Reblogged this on Healing Secrets and commented:
    This post is the solution to my problem: dealing with someone I like and care about who is extremely negative. I’m sharing this because I believe someone else share this same dilemma. However we must protect and take care of our self while we provide support to others.

    Liked by 5 people

  34. She may be suffering from depression. Hang in there. Remember Eric tells us to keep our emotional distance. Don’t get sucked in as you give her a space to rant.

    Liked by 4 people

  35. cettepetitezed says:

    Totally relatable! Letting go of such people can be very heartbreaking but in time you’ll realise you made the right decision. Thanks for the post!

    Liked by 6 people

  36. Such a fantastic post! I have so many negative people in my immediate family and so much drama can come from them. It’s exhausting and has over time brought me down because I tend to be in the line of fire, which hurts because I always try to help. No amount of help and love can really help a negative person. They find a way to turn it on me and make me out to be the bad guy. I’ve learned over time that distance is the best way to remain happy and positive. It isn’t always easy but it’s worth it.

    Liked by 6 people

  37. LG says:

    Very useful. I know how it feels to live with a negative person and love them too. It is very draining. But the good thing is that when we are positive ourselves, we instinctively learn ways to insulate ourselves from negativity.

    Liked by 5 people

  38. When I was in therapy years ago my therapist called negative people energy suckers and it stuck with me. Now I have no trouble keeping a large buffer between myself and negative people. Thanks for this post, you make some very valid points about what negative people can bring into your life and tips on how to deal with them. =)

    Liked by 5 people

  39. Reblogged this on Carmela Snelbaker and commented:
    This is an interesting blog post from MakeItUltra blog that I thought is worth sharing. Everyday life interactions can often be difficult. The more wisdom we gain helps us in our daily interactions with others. Feel free to share if you find the information helpful.

    With respect, Hope, Joy and Love, Carmela

    Liked by 5 people

  40. Pia Garcia says:

    This is a really good post! I agree in all aspects and we really need to learn how to deal with this kind of people before they suck all the joy out of you!

    Liked by 4 people

  41. Luxxat says:

    “When a negative person meets someone who is positive, they will often ridicule, degrade or dismiss the person with the positive outlook.” – this is so true! I have such a person in my surrounding and I must admit I made every mistake you mentioned. But I learned and now I just stay away as I do not have to be with someone who sees everything in black colors.

    Liked by 5 people

  42. Christina says:

    In my university days and early 20s, it was difficult to handle the negative people in my life. however, I’ve found it easier to ignore them now…with children to take care of, it’s easier to let things slide off your back. Thanks for the reminders!

    Liked by 5 people

  43. arv! says:

    we are finding & meeting more and more negative people than ever before! I’m sure this post will help people to cope better

    Liked by 4 people

  44. quandarysite says:

    I needed this post more than anyone else. My life is full of negative people. I feel like am the only proton between several electrons. Sometimes too be negative but I overcome that. But there are a few people who just drag you into it.

    Liked by 4 people

  45. thenellieproject says:

    Struggled a lot with negative people lately so this is very helpful and clarifying for me. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  46. undergroundukht says:

    Reblogged this on Underground Ukht and commented:
    Important in safe-guarding your own mental health. In being altruistic, boundaries still need to be set. Know your worth.

    Liked by 3 people

  47. GirlsMyAge says:

    Dealing with negative people can be extremely difficult, like you said because everyone wants to be ‘nice’ and I’m not one for confrontation. But it’s true, if someone is taking advantage if your kindness and manipulating you, you have to stop it somewhere otherwise you won’t progress. I’ve recently learnt this at school from someone who is totalllly using me😒😌 but no one can take away our positive mindset thank God only we have control over that🙌

    Liked by 4 people

  48. Love all these tips. I’ve used them with the ex. But it’s a little bit more difficult when kids are involved. Especially when he starts using the kids to manipulate the situation using his negativity and his low blow jabs… But the best thing that kept me being intimidated (most of the time) is recognizing that his mannerisms only reflect his character and has nothing to do with me 😀. Great post as always

    Liked by 3 people

  49. really nice post. Anyone can think as a great man. All we needed is, to understand the value of life and time. If you have time to think about your life, it will make you a better person. I believe you can cultivate a better personality in yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  50. Kaelalaena says:

    Very true. In my situation the negative person is abusive and basically holding his family hostage. Like late last night, I was called to babysit because the 2 year old had to go to the ER and his father threatened his wife if she took the baby in, and refused to watch the two remaining children. It’s soooo hard not to get involved, and just stay helpful when I really wanted to kick his bedroom door down and go all Grandma Rambo on him. I avoid him as much as humanly possible, but having loved ones in a toxic relationship is harder for me, because I can’t just walk away or change the relationship myself. I may be reading this post daily for a bit!

    Liked by 4 people

  51. sistahsai says:

    Lately, I have been struggling of letting go of a negative friendship. This post really helped me. It helped me be brave and just let go. I am definitely going to remember your wise words! You’re inspiring!!! 💯

    Liked by 2 people

  52. hairywriter says:

    I am discovering so many inspiring and useful posts since I started my own blog. This one really hits the spot, identifying and saying so clearly things I have always felt to be true. Thank you. I look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      Thank you for the positive feedback! I am glad you found this helpful ✨

      Like

  53. Reblogged this on the silent wave and commented:
    This is an absolutely incredible post. Eric is one of the few mental health writers who actually makes practical, helpful recommendations. (A lot of the other stuff we read in magazines and such is simply fluff that leaves us in no better shape than we were before we started reading it.). But Eric’s Make It Ultra blog is different. This post is the perfect example of how and why. Awesome read, well worth the mere few minutes it’ll take. :)) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Ah, story of my life! I agree with this advice whole heartedly. It is particularly difficult though when you are young and those who you depend on for life are negative, it’s soul crushing really, and I hope that parents will remember that their attitudes effect their children, not just now, but also later in life….

    Meno<3

    Liked by 1 person

    • MakeItUltra™ says:

      I am happy you liked it and thank you for your comment 🙏🏼✨

      Like

  55. clbcarter says:

    I love this! I’ve been dealing with negative people in my life, and I always tend to dwell on situations too much. This was a real eye opener for me, so thank you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. […] 2. Develop your skills Instead of approaching your job as a prisoner in servitude, think of ways you can increase your skills, especially in areas that could help you if you decide to change jobs. We tend to be happiest when we are trying to get better at something. Every job has the potential to teach us valuable lessons; even if the lesson is to breathe, and find comfort in your discomfort. The lesson might even be, how to work with extremely negative people (See my post: How to Deal with Negative People). […]

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