Dealing with Negativity and Keep that Smile on your Face

Some people are really hard to be around. No matter what you do or say, it makes little difference to them, they will find something to complain about. The other day while at the store, I was making a purchase and the cashier kept complaining about all the rain we've been having and he said nothing positive the whole five minutes I was checking out. I kept silent but finally I said, "well the rain will eventually go away..." I genuinely smiled at him and told him to have a nice day. He was a young guy, probably in his twenties.

As I walked away, I felt so tired and drained. In that little time his negative talk took what energy I had. And I felt so sorry for him to be so young and already so pessimistic. Maybe he was having a bad day I thought. I can certainly dig where he's coming from with the rain because we've had more rain this winter than in all the five years we've lived here. But, it was inappropriate for him to complain in front of customers, me in this case. On the job, especially in customer service, you need to remain professional and many times you have to keep your thoughts silent.

With that said, there are people who are dealing with mental illnesses and are unable to come out of depression without medication, but I'm not referring to them in this post. I'm speaking to people who "choose" to see the glass half empty or are even rude all the time and spread it around to others. Our words have life or death (Proverbs 18:21).

There's a few things I try to do when dealing with a negative person:

  1. First, I don't join them in their negativity. I like to encourage people so I try to pick out something positive and then speak to that. What I don't want to do is let their thoughts bring me down. 
  2. I listen as much as I can. That meaning, I can only deal with the complaining or even rudeness only so much. Sometimes, there's truth in what a person is saying even if it's negative, but constant griping never helps and it really does suck the life out of you if there's no room for a positive word.
  3. I pray. This is the most important thing to do. The person may really be going through a major trial and their emotions are compromised. I will even ask them if they want to pray together. If so, we hold hands and pray, if not, I'll pray for them that God will bless them and encourage them and help them to see the good and blessings. All of us have something to be thankful for.

What to do if you can't help the person no matter what?

I don't want to end a relationship if I can help it. But, it did happen to me once. I had gone way beyond the scope to try to be a positive influence with this person, but they simply weren't receptive. In fact, they actually turned on me and eventually I had to move on with my life.

I had to really look deep at the relationship and see it for what it was. It took years for me to see that I was being killed everyday as long as I was trying to hang on to their friendship. I can't save the world, I can only do my part and hope the person will make some strides in their own life. But there are people who are just miserable and they like spreading it to others. Yes, they like it. This is the character of the person that was in my life. No matter how much I tried to encourage them, they just refused to see any good in their life. Sometimes negative people are living with deep regret and it's turned to bitterness. The only help for them is that they see themselves and seek help.

If you work with or have to interact with someone who is bitter, I would say try not to let their feelings become yours. Take care for your own mental health. An extremely negative person can bring you down if you're not careful and then it's like two people drowning in quick sand.

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