1.Turn negativity into positivity.
Start with your own negativity. If you catch yourself being negative, tell yourself something good, think about something positive, etc. When somebody gets negative with you ask them to tell you something positive that happened, something good in their lives. This can break their cycle of negativity – or at least get them to go vent to somebody else.
2.Change the subject
If they shoot down every solution you offer to their problems, then it can be best not to offer them any more – this may be malicious attention-seeking or it may be that they have genuinely tried everything, but either way it can be frustrating. In fact, offering solutions can be just as frustrating for them as for you – offering a listening ear and sympathy is often more productive in helping them find the solution themselves.
Change the subject to a light, fun topic every time they start to get negative. Avoid topics that tend to trigger negative rants, and divert them to something more lighthearted such as a new movie, a book, etc. Find good news to share with them. Not only will they stop ranting, but they will feel better too.
Imagine a white light or a forcefield surrounding you that keeps the negative energy out. This is particularly useful if the negative person is a coworker or, worse, your boss. You can’t get away from them and you have no choice but to at least pretend to listen to their rants. Although it may sound silly, it is something which can really work.
4.Turn Them Around
What makes this person negative? We can all become negative if we hate our job, if our relationships are in trouble, if we’re frustrated. Some negative people have low self-esteem. If the negative person is a friend, family member, or somebody you really care about, then you can think about nudging them to more positivity. If, on the other hand, they’re doing it to get attention, then simply ignoring negative tirades can be the best course of action.
Even if the person has negative feelings specifically towards you or your idea. Know that you can change their views.. It takes hard work, but if you can get to the root of why they don’t like you or why they don’t like your ideas, you can work on turning them around, then they can turn out to be a your best supporter.
In his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant explains that it is possible to turn your worst enemies into your supporters and when you do those people actually become your biggest supporters. Because they already went through the process of being defiant, and changed their minds they are less likely to go back and pick holes in your idea or character. These “turned” people are also well placed to defend you against other people who are being negative, since they can understand where that other person is coming from, but have better arguments to why they are wrong.
5.Leave Them Behind
Unless the negative person is your boss or, perhaps, your spouse, you can always take time away from them. Don’t tell them why – that will only make them more negative – but if your negative coworker is getting you down, find or manufacture some work you have to be doing.
And if they still keep bringing you down with their negativity, walk away for good. Sometimes you have to cut the negative person, especially if they’re only a casual acquaintance, out of your life to maintain your own sanity.
There are many other ways you can deal with negative people and their energy, without letting them turn you into one of them.