Last week I had the misfortune of having to deal with a very negative person. As challenging as it was there are so many amazing lessons that can be learnt from them and there is an opportunity for all of us to improve ourselves at the same time
What causes these negative people to go out of their way and make everyone else feel miserable, I believe, comes down to a lack of self-development and a host of other issues that are to do with their own life. It takes courage and belief in yourself to overcome their effect on you – we can defeat them, though!
In the particular situation I had to deal with, the individual felt the need to make complaints about everything I do and insist I do things their way. Unfortunately for them, they hadn’t met an individual like me who uses every self-development tool there is to overcome these very situations.
Even with all of the self-development training and strategies that I have learnt over the years, the effect this person had on me still lasted 48 hours – this goes to show just how toxic their influence was. Giving feedback is one thing, but going out of your way to try and make everyone else perfect is another.
So rather than dwell on this situation too much, I thought I would share with you the nine ways to rise above negative people’s influence.
1. Move towards positivity and away from negativity
The reality is that you can’t completely block out negative people (I have tried) but what you can do is use a strategy that Tony Robbins introduced to me called “moving towards, and moving away from.”
Rather than completely ignore the person, just change the ratio in which you interact with them.
In the situation that recently happened to me, I have chosen to lessen my exposure to this toxic person. This involves a few weeks of no interaction (to let the emotion subside) followed by minimum future exposure. Think of them as a germ, you can’t avoid them all together, but you can be careful not to touch a dirty floor or share a drink with a sick person.
In this strategy, the idea is to increase the time you spend with positive people and lessen your time with the negative person whose influence is seriously affecting you. By executing this strategy, you put the odds in your favour and increase the chances of rising above future negative people that you might come into contact with.
2. Sleep on it
After a serious encounter with a negative person, like the one I had, the key thing that person wants you to do is to get caught up in the emotion or react. The first thing I recommend on doing is getting away from the person and environment they are in as soon as possible.
By making any decisions in an emotional state, you are most likely going to do something that you regret. Always insist on not making any decisions about how you are going to handle this negative person until you have had at least one night’s sleep or ideally a weekend to recover.
When someone has worn you down with their negativity, your energy levels are low, and you most likely haven’t eaten the correct foods while dealing with the issue. The result of these two things is that you are asking your brain to make an important decision without being rational and relaxed – just what the negative person wants.
The next morning after my incident I still found that I was not in the right frame of mind and delayed the decision about dealing with the negative person until another nights sleep. Then I was calm and rational and decided not to react. Next came the weekend, and I made a further decision not to react. Having had enough time to think, I decided this person was not worth wasting my time on.
If I had tried to make the decision earlier, I suspect the outcome would have been much worse. Always act in a calm, positive state where possible and your success will increase substantially.
3. People can always fault you
The reality is that people can always find a fault with something you are doing. It’s so easy to stand back and criticise what someone does or the way they are doing it. Guess what? They are measuring you based on their own set of rules about how things need to be, but that’s only their rules, not yours.
What makes their rules right? Nothing.
The most obvious sign that someone’s using their faulty rules to judge you is when you run the situation by other people in your network, and 100% of them say that this negative person’s perspective is rubbish.
This is exactly what happened to me and everyone I spoke to said that the situation was completely misjudged by the other person. What shown through was that people said my intent is very obvious, and my goal is to do the right thing by people.
So when someone says I write stupid things to people, you know what I did? I said to everyone around me in a polite tone “read Addicted2Success and you can see exactly how I write and what people think of my actions.” The truth always trumps inaccurate statements.
4. The negative persons view is only theirs
By having a negative person treat me like dirt and say inaccurate things, I learnt that this negative persons view is only theirs. No two people’s view will be identical. Just because they think that you are not intelligent or don’t know what you are doing, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Often this negative persons view is shaped by their prior experiences.
5. The problem is them not you
Upon reflection I realised that the issue that happened to me was actually the negative person’s issue, not mine. As it turns out, they have judged other people, in the same way, acted inappropriately before, and gone out of there was to make people have a bad day.
When I realised this, I instantly felt better because I knew that they were the real problem, and I just got tangled in their web of unresolved problems of the past. They have most likely failed in many aspects of their life and dealt with lots of uncomfortable emotions.
Most of this failure has been caused by their failure to truly understand themselves and what it takes for them to be successful. They decided to take the easy route in life and inflict pain on others rather than deal with their own – don’t ever do this, you are smarter than that.
6. Understand that negative people expect perfection
The moment someone expects you to be perfect is the moment that you know that they are going to cause problems. That’s because each of us who have taken the time to learn about self-development know that we are never going to be perfect.
In fact, as we grow even more we realise that the greater something is imperfect, the better it is. Think of antiques, they have rust, dents and dirt, and that’s what makes people want them. It’s the aging that has occurred, their rarity, and the history the antiques reveal that makes them so special.
The more we strive to be imperfect and fail, the wiser and more powerful we become. I personally love to try something and have it blow up on me because I know there are going to be some great lessons on the other side.
I have never studied a successful person who was perfect, and the most successful people seem to be very far from perfect – do you want perfection or do you want success?
7. You can turn even the most negative people into supporters
A key lesson that I want you to get from this article is that while in the short term you may reduce contact with this negative person, in the long term you have a fantastic opportunity. This opportunity is one I have taken many times in my life, and it’s one I encourage you to take.
After a negative person has really affected you, and a few months have past, see if you can attempt to reconnect with them. One outcome that I have seen is that when a negative person figures out your strategy and realises how you operate, they can often change their dealings with you to a more positive interaction.
This has happened many times to me, and I put it down to the negative person understanding that my positive mindset cannot be altered and that I shape my beliefs, no one else. When people realise that I am very stubborn when it comes to the tools of success, they can often change their future dealings with me.
The other reason I encourage you to re-engage with a negative person at some point is that you can learn a lot about yourself.
8. Watch some great movies
So after going through the situation of dealing with an extremely negative person I found one of the easiest ways to recover was through a good movie. It’s phenomenal how an inspiring movie with a good story can stop you focusing on yourself and make you think about how you can be successful.
If you want my two recommendations for movies that are bound to take you out of the disempowering state that a negative person can put you in, then try “The Pursuit Of Happyness” and “The Blind Side.” There is no way you can stay disempowered after watching these two movies.
9. Remember the negative persons diet
So one common trait I see with all negative people is a poor diet. Thinking back to the negative person I had to deal with, I remembered that they consistently drank lots of coffee and ate non-nutritional food.
It’s no surprise that they got in a disempowered state so easily, their energy levels didn’t allow them to see any positivity. When you poison your body with junk food on a regular basis, your ability to make positive decisions and think clearly is impaired.
This poor nutrition leads to a constant brain fog and no way to have the energy levels that successful people have.
“Your thoughts and decisions, and whether they will be positive, are radically affected by your diet”
Rise above the naysayers. Reduce your time with toxic people.
Always remember that no outside force can change your mindset or your beliefs, only you can. In times of uncertainty and pain the self-development you have done will be the deciding factor in how you handle negative people.
Self-development is the best tool you have against the crusade to fight the effect of negative people. Stand tall, be a leader and remember why you do what you do. You are someone who has unlimited potential, and all you need to do is unlock it.
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Why Do We Have An Unconscious Bias and How Can We Manage It?
When I hear someone using my name once in a while throughout the conversation we are having, I cannot stop myself thinking “this person must have read Dale Carnegie’s books or must have been influenced by someone who read them…” Have you just recalled a similar moment and it felt nice?
As Dale Carnegie famously said, “Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and the most important sound in any language”. Why did Dale Carnegie highlight the importance of an individual’s name to that person in his “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book published in 1936?
Each and every one of us wants to feel special and unique. I guess he recommends using the person’s name in the conversation because that is one of the easiest ways to grab that person’s attention so that we can enhance the chances of getting our point across. However, I am more interested in this from the other side; hearing our names directly addresses our individuality, our need or desire to feel special and unique.
Let’s park this one for now and we will come back.
Categorization is essential to our survival
There is countless scientific research telling us about how our brains recognize similarities and put things into categories, which has been crucial to our survival in evolution and still helps us with a lot of things from learning new things to coping with the continuous influx of massive amounts of information through our senses.
The continuous influx of information is mostly handled by our subconscious mind rather than conscious. It is estimated that our brains receive about 11 million bits of information every second through our senses, of which only 40-50 bits can be processed by our conscious mind. We process more information than we are aware of. The magic here is the subconscious mind.
An example is when you are at a very loud party where you hear a lot of words flying around without you recognizing each one of them, then suddenly, you immediately catch it when you hear your name. Your subconscious had been processing all of those words, without your awareness, but informed your conscious mind when your name was out there because it was relevant to you.
In order to most effectively process this much information and inform the conscious mind with only the relevant ones, our subconscious employs categorization as one of its strategies.
When our ancestors encountered some deadly predators in the African savanna, their subconscious prompted their conscious mind to immediately fight or flight by categorizing the information gathered through their senses into “predator / life threat / take action”. Most probably we are not descendants of the ones that were frozen rather than fighting or flighting!
Although it is a completely different situation, the same strategy applied in remembering lists. Let’s look at the below two lists.
- lion, eagle, shark, leopard, hawk, whale, panther, falcon and dolphin
- lion, leopard, panther, eagle, hawk, falcon, shark, whale and dolphin
The second list is easy to remember because it is reordered into relevant groups even though the content of the both lists are identical.
Subconsciousness is the magic and categorization is one of its key strategies. It is essential to our survival, learning new skills and processing information as well as bringing back the information we had processed and stored.
This amazing skill has its drawbacks
As a result of our brains’ categorization strategy, we also categorize people, especially if we don’t know them as well as our closest ones.
Imagine I am sitting at the table next to yours while you are having your favorite coffee and working on your computer or reading your novel at your neighborhood coffee shop. I stand up, very calmly grab your bag, and start walking away. Your reaction might be quite different depending on my outfit. It could be much more vocal and harsh if I have a dirty T-Shirt and a pair of torn jeans on. However, if I have some navy colored, 3-piece suit and well-pressed white button up shirt on, you might even say something like “Excuse me, you might have picked up my bag by mistake”. (There is an experiment done by social psychologists which reported similar results)
Similarly, I would not be surprised to hear that my co-worker’s spouse is very skilled and knowledgeable in English grammar and literature because he is an English teacher. However, I would not expect it from my co-worker herself because she is an outstanding chemical engineer.
This is defined as unconscious bias or stereotyping, as a result of our subconscious brain’s categorization strategy. The outfit I have at the coffee shop impacts your response to my action, because it puts me into a different category in your mind depending on my outfit. My co-worker’s and her spouse’s backgrounds make me put them into different categories, which might mislead me sometimes.
Just like we categorize things, it is very natural that we categorize people.
The key question here for me is; how do we truly treat people as individuals so that they feel unique, just like as they would want, while we know that our brains categorize people?
We can overcome unconscious bias
Leonard Mlodinow, in his enlightening book “Subliminal”, suggests that “if we are aware of our bias and motivated to overcome it, we can.” That doesn’t mean that we need to fight our brain’s categorization strategy. We just need to employ our conscious mind more when we are working or dealing with individuals.
Our unconscious bias might tell us scientists are bunch of technical nerds who cannot understand abstract concepts that marketers are talking about or it might say that marketers are some daydreamers who need to be grounded by scientists to the real world all the time. I am an engineer and I love thinking in abstract terms and I worked with quite a lot of marketers who thought primarily in factual and concrete terms.
Spending some effort to learn more about individuals will help overcome unconscious bias. Gathering more information and qualities about them will make it easier for us to treat them as individuals rather than a member of the category we put them in our minds.
The moral of the story here is to recognize the fact that our brains do categorize, and it is essential; but also, to recognize that every individual wants to feel unique. When we appreciate these two and keep reminding them to ourselves, we are one step closer to figuring out our own way to overcome unconscious bias and treat people more like individuals.
What was the most interesting part of this article for you? Share your thoughts below!
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