How to Get Along with Negative People

Negative people show up in our professional and personal lives on a regular basis. There never seems to be a shortage of negativity.

We all know people who are hard to deal with because of their negativity. Some are too demanding or abrasive. Others may be arrogant or emotionally abusive.

Whatever form their negativity takes, it makes communication stressful, and a wrong approach can make matters even worse.

Most of the time, we can’t choose whom we do business with. But we can choose how to interact with them. Over my three decades of experience as an executive leadership coach, I have been helping my clients learn how to get along with everyone they encounter, even those who are so negative they’re downright toxic.

Some of the best ideas to come out of those discussions are listed here. They can help you improve your relationships with the negative people in your life—or at least co-exist with them with less stress and conflict.

Treat people the way you want to be treated. Regardless of how negative they go, always be kind. Sometimes a relationship with a negative person can be improved with a little bit of kindness. Smile at them or saying hello when you see them. Being friendly isn’t a sign of weakness but of strength and confidence.

Don’t take it personally. When you encounter negative people, remember not to take their negativity personally. The issue isn’t you; it’s their attitude. If you can stay connected to that truth it will make their negativity easier to handle.

Don’t get defensive. When dealing with a negative person it’s important to stay calm. Keep your body language and the tone of your voice under control. Think about what you’re going to say and what your goal for the conversation is, and don’t react impulsively if other person offends you.

Avoid arguments. If possible, don’t disagree with negative people. Find ways to be agreeable or to ignore them. Arguing will only get you emotionally invested in the situation and trigger your fight-or-flight responses, making it harder for you to think clearly and respond appropriately.

Keep your cool. Stay calm and rational, avoid the temptation to score rhetorical points, and refuse to be drawn into a battle you don’t want to fight. You’re much more likely to reach a satisfactory outcome if you can stay calm, cool and collected.

Draw attention to the positive. Most people have at least a few redeeming traits, so try to find something good. If there’s something the person does well, concentrate on that. Choose to go positive no matter how negative they are.

Focus on the issue, not the person. Focus on the problem, the task, the project, the issue that you have to solve or discuss rather than the person you are dealing with. This helps prevent the conversation from escalating into personal attacks and may lead to more positive attitudes all around.

Lead from within: You always have control. You always have a choice. You can choose to allow negativity to run over you or to learn the best way to handle it.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Sabina

    08. Nov, 2018

    I think these are all excellent points. Unfortunately, it can be hard to remember them in the heat of the moment, but we should all try. Another alternative is to avoid negative people altogether. Of course this is not possible all the time, but when we can I think we should.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      09. Nov, 2018


      Life is a work in progress, and yes in the heat of the moment, it might be hard, but we know what we need to do, we just have to do it.

      Reply to this comment

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