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How to recognize less positive behaviors and cope with negative people

Updated on August 13, 2013
A negative view of the empty glass
A negative view of the empty glass | Source
An empty glass
An empty glass | Source

“Our way of thinking creates good or bad outcomes” - Stephen Richards

Have you ever met or conversed with someone who simply wears you down because of his or her first words when they greet you were “It was awful,”, “It was terrible,” or “she was so annoying?” The really negative person who can turn almost any smile into a frown as soon as you see him? These folk sometimes have a dark aura around them that says “Pour it in, I”m a jug for all that’s bad.” Every time you talk to them, you receive either bad news or a cynical snippet of life. For them, the sun never seems to come up.

Negativity can cloud our perception in the most cramping, debilitating way possible. When we meet one of these jugs for negativity, it can make us cringe. Yet, some of these toxic folk are the very ones we love, so having a few tricks up our sleeves when dealing with them can be very useful.

Empty glass symbolizing negativity
Empty glass symbolizing negativity | Source

How do negative people affect us?

Negativity is a monster that has a very tight grip. When we are surrounded by negative people, they can affect us in many ways.

Negative people program our subconscious.

Anyone who is remotely familiar with a little Freudian theory will know that the subconscious is the 7/8 of the icebergs of our minds that has the most effect on us. Being around negative people will program that 7/8 of our minds in sometimes frightening ways.

When we are around negativity, we will be conditioned to believe in these not-so-sunny perceptions. A negative person has the power to turn our minds around to these views and after a while we find that we start believing in them. After a time, we start paying at least some tribute to Murphy’s Law - that everything that will go wrong, does go wrong. In fact, everything that is right goes wrong too!

Being constantly surrounded by negative people and negative feelings makes us unnecessarily disappointed in life. We lose our sense of self worth. It is not long before we start thinking that there is no way for us to do anything that will push us forward.

Negative people drain our energy.

I am very sure that everyone would be familiar with feeling tired after a conversation with someone who always greets us with “woe is me.” After a session of trying to counsel or listen to that person, it leaves us feeling extremely weary.

Talking to someone who is always finding fault with something or other has the effect of either making you feel defensive, hopeless or very tired. It can even have an adverse effect on our health.

A lot of research shown that negativity has adverse impact on our immune systems, decreasing our resistance to disease. One study followed a group of almost 7000 adults through a span of 40 years. The ones who showed optimism in their youth and throughout life had a 42% instance of living a prolonged life.

Negativity affects relationships

Negativity affects relationships. No one really wants to be around someone who complains all the time and never has anything positive to say.

A person who is negative may find himself being surrounded by fewer friends and wondering why.


How do I recognize negativity?

Negativity comes in all forms. You could be the negative person that you dread! Here are some ways to identify negativity in others and, if not realized yet, oneself.

Accusations of an ulterior motive/distrust

If someone or even yourself constantly believes that all others do good only with the intent to benefit themselves, this could be a sign of innate cynicism. The constant lack of trust points to negativity lying within.

Constant complaining and criticizing

Can you remember an occasion when your gift was received with a barrage of complaints? Or that someone who never finds things good enough? The someone who tackles any of your winning strategies with criticism?

Constant complaining and criticizing is a definite sign of negativity. It reveals someone with whom absolutely nothing is right.

Expectations of only failure

A person who is negative is conditioned to expect failure of almost anything. A new venture or even a familiar one is always doomed. He is the supreme advocate of Murphy’s Law!

Tendency to lay blame

I am sure that everyone who reads this will be familiar with finger pointing. The instinct to assign blame is a definite sign of a negative person!

Reprimands for not being realistic

Negativity can be a little difficult to spot sometimes because it is couched in realism. A very familiar scenario is when we are severely scolded for pursuing our chosen endeavors because they are not “realistic.” A person who berates us constantly for “unrealistic” expectations or pursuits is not a very positive one.

Empty glass symbolizing negativity
Empty glass symbolizing negativity | Source

Which of these negative people do you most identify with?

See results

7 negative people and how to handle them

Negativity comes in different forms. These are a few, less positive folks whom you may recognize.

Miss Promise Breaker

This is the person whom you cannot expect anything good from. Consciously or unconsciously, this person tends to break promises because she was disappointed herself in her formative years. The pattern or habit was thus formed, and a tad hard to break.

One way of relating to Miss Promise breaker is to let her know about how her behavior makes you feel. Perhaps you have not told her about how her behavior is affecting your friendship with her. She may not know that constantly breaking pledges is a pattern and it may be time to make her realize this.

Mr. Double Crosser

This is the friend (or not) who betrays you or your secrets in the worst way possible. He spreads malicious rumors about you behind your back, likely because of jealousy, and can be the most negative of friends possible.

Mr. Double Crosser may have really deep seated emotional issues to address if you are to continue the friendship with him. You may have to assess if you are risking too much in maintaining Mr. Double Crosser as one of your close circle of friends.

Miss Silent Treatment

Miss Silent Treatment abruptly stops speaking to you and never explains why. You may never get a chance to find out either. It is a form of emotional double crossing that can be very negative!

It may take a bit of patience before Miss Silent Treatment is willing to open up about the reasons for her behavior. If she does not wish to, there is no point forcing your presence on her, so it is wiser, though difficult, to just move on.

Mr. Self Absorbed

An alternative name for Mr. Self Absorbed is Mr. Narcissist. Most people will be very familiar with him. This is the person who lauds only his own achievements and believes that no one else matches up.

Self-centered behavior stems from insecurity and fear of not being able to meet the standards of others. Mr. Self Absorbed therefore tends to put other people down in favor of himself.

You may want to create situations where Mr. Self Absorbed does not get the opportunity to talk about himself. Plan activities that he is not good at doing. Alternatively, you might just want to not sit next to him too often!

Miss Discloser

You will be familiar with the person who always opens a conversation with ‘This is just between us.” She is Miss Discloser, the person who is all too ready to reveal another’s secrets.

If Miss Discloser is a friend you know relatively well, you might want to start by addressing the behavior with her and letting her know about your disappointment before proceeding with the friendship. If you find her incapable of breaking the pattern, choose what you want to say to her.

Mr. Competitor

His name says it all. Mr. Competitor is the person who only wants to win or impress.You may recognize him when he starts saying “me too’ to whatever achievement you announce. If you have been on a holiday to Venice, Mr. Competitor is likely to interject with a ‘me too.”

To an extent, a little competition is healthy and stimulating. Too much pressure, however can be negative for friendships, particularly for the self-esteem for the friend who always ‘loses.”

To alert him to his behavior, you might want to preface your statements with, “Let me share something without having to do with you.” If you are afraid that this would throw him off, you might have to be willing to listen to his bragging at the expense of himself, or completely avoid him altogether.

Miss Fault Finder

This is the person who nitpicks on everything and never has anything good to say. Her conduct is a result of very negative experiences.

If Miss Fault Finder is someone close to you or someone whom you want to maintain a relationship with despite the criticisms, try having a heart to heart talk with her about her behavior. Alternatively, if you are at your withs end, try finding fault in her. It might break the spell of negativity that causes her to constantly find fault with you. However, because she often cannot take criticism well, she might cut off the friendship between you.

How to deal with emotional vampires

Other ways to deal with negative people

There are many ways of dealing with negative folks, so here are a few more strategies you might want to try.

Have a little empathy.

Knowing where their behavior stems from might give a little hint about how to deal with the negative person in question. It also makes way for a little heart in the process!

Remain completely detached.

Keep smiling in the face of negativity and simply do not let it affect you. A negative person may be seeking to get a reaction from you, so do not give him or her that satisfaction. Leave the room if you can.

Say, “Now tell me something positive.”

This is good for handling someone who whines, complains or indulges in a little fault finding. Alert her to the negative behavior in this way.

Try to guide them to sort their problems.

Try to find a way to help a negative person come to terms with what is bothering him or her. Say "This seems to be bothering you. Would you like me to help you find a way to deal with it? This would hopefully point the way to them to find a coping strategy for their situation.

Imagine a shield.

This sounds a little silly, but such visualization has a profound effect. Imagine yourself under the protection of Providence from negative words as they come!

Look inward.

Much as we hate to admit it, negativity could point to something about ourselves. If the person finds it a source of contention, it could be necessary to address it.

Don’t indulge in self blame.

Realize that you may not be the trigger for the negative remarks of the other person. You may not be able to get through to him or her, so it may be wise to stop seeking reasons for the negative behavior. Let things go and move on.

In conclusion...........

Toxicity can be damaging both to the person delivering it and to yourself. Recognizing it in yourself and others proves beneficial to all concerned. Positivity attracts more!


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    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Girishpuri.

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      5 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Well written, God bless you

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      It does, ang dealing with it in the persons closest to us can be trying. THank, Travmaj!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it is, Christin. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      We meet them, unfortunately. But, negativity is a result of having to deal with issues. thanks for sharing Cristina!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Diana! They are really hard to deal with!

    • travmaj profile image


      5 years ago from australia

      Great hun and very interesting Michelle - and you document negativity well. I agree with Christina 53 - it's difficult to cope with and more so if it's a family member and you just don't have the heart to destroy that connection. It really is tiresome and draining and the negativity seems to spread to your personal thinking. Others can be dealt with in the manner you recommend. Hope all well in singapore

    • christin53 profile image


      5 years ago from UK

      Negativity is very difficult to deal with when it's a close family member who you can't walk away from. It is very draining and tiring.

    • CrisSp profile image


      5 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Very interesting! I have long detached myself from some negative people and although I still encounter some of them from time to time, I don't let their behaviors affect me anymore. Like what teaches said (above), they are draining and so, be it for them.

      I know a couple of Miss Silent Treatment...I just let them. I respected their silence and waited until they speak. Somehow, I wonder, what did I do wrong, if there's ever anything but I couldn't think of a thing or two. Apparently, they were busy dealing with their own monsters. So, I guess, there's no real friendship there much as I'd like to offer my help.

      Oh well....great article Michelle. Up, pinning and sharing.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      5 years ago

      Your negative types listed are ones I have come across over the years. As you wrote, they are draining. Thanks for the advice and tips.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Most thankful for you, Last heart. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lastheart profile image

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      6 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Hope you don't mind that I pin this article as a H.O.W. article in Pnterest. I am sharing articles like this one. Thanks, for the message.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, Meldz! They can be a pain to deal with. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It is really true Michelle and I find it hard to deal with this kind of people. They are really draining. Thanks for your useful advices.

      Have a great day!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      True, I wonder why. It's almost as if they are afraid of being positive! Thanks for sharing!

    • kidscrafts profile image


      6 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      Excellent article! Thank you so much!

      Your are totally right that negativity is draining. Curiously enough, it seems that some people feed on that! I find that being positive is so important and life saving!

      I will print your article and put it with the journal that I keep with my reading of the book "The Magic" from Rhonda Byrne.

      Your article came in a strange time of my life.... or probably not! Thank you very much again!

      Voted up and awesome!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Oh, Pamela, it can be so annoying indeed! I hope that the person concerned will get the message. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      This is an excellent hub and it is horrid to be around someone who is always negative about almost everything. You did a great job writing this hub as it is very thorough. I am dealing with someone like that now and I am more of a glass half full girl, so it does get old.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, staying away is the Key, Girishpuri!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, indeed, Nancy, getting rid of it is something we should do constantly. Trick is, we must want to make a start!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Very true, Who! Negative colleagues will always bring us down! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Healthylife!!! Yes, I can completely relate there. Negativity has an impact on health indeed...the more exposed we are to negativity the more we see things that way and ipsychosoma kicks ion.. we have fewer chances of recovery. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      That's food for thought there! Could be a strong will to live, which they hide behind the negativity! Thanks for sharing'

    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      6 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Michele, a great piece of advice, and it is a fact negativity, is poison and one must remain away from the negativity and negative forces, well done, God bless.

    • cfin profile image


      6 years ago from The World we live in

      Irish people are the most negative people in the world and will sell you an image of everything being outrageously bad, yet we have the 22nd highest life expectancy in the world. There's a strange one ;)

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      I'm not surprised that negative people have such a dramatic affect on lifespan and health. After going through a serious health issue I got rid of those negative people in my life and don't miss them even a little. I also thought your tips on how to deal with those negative people are great. Voting and sharing!

    • whonunuwho profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      In the teaching profession or any other chosen field this is very good advice, midget, thanks for these timely suggestions. whonu

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      It is a process to get rid of negativity in our lives. It is not as easy as one might think.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      I used to think so too, till one or two really took the cake. Since we cannot get away from them, the best thing to do is to join in! Thanks for sharing!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      It can be really draining to mix with those who bring us down. Thanks, Mary!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Good that you were firm, Debra! Let's be positive!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, we can't get away from some people, so the best thing to do is learn some coping mechanisms! Thanks, Ish!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, quite a popular term, Web923! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, the problem comes when family comes into the matter! That's when we have to develop strategies as we can't get away from them so easily. Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Pinkchic!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Glad you think so, Hatter!! We should really learn some moves, because we sometimes cannot get away from these folks. Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Shields up indeed! If we can't avoid it, let's protect ourselves! Thanks, Sue!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Seems to be a common term, Cyndi! Yes, distancing is somewhat necessary! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine, afraid that these people are part of our lives whether we like it or not. Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Indeed! WTG on that, Bill!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Lovedoctor!

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      I try very hard to stay away from these type of people, but of course, they are all around us. The trick is not to get sucked into their vortex. One radio personality calls them "energy vampires." A very apt description. Most of these personalities aren't even aware of their unattractive qualities.

      You've presented some excellent suggestions for interacting with negative people. Good article.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Michelle,

      Great advice on how to deal with negative people.

      Imaging a shield is not silly too me as many years ago I took a Silva method workshop where they taught us this kind of imagery to deal with negativity. "Shields up"

      Voted up and sharing

      Take care :)

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Janine! Unfortunately, we do run into many of these folks. Thanks for coming by!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. With as many people I came in contact with, I think I ran into all these. I tell you, your description and advice is quite good.

    • Pinkchic18 profile image

      Sarah Carlsley 

      6 years ago from Minnesota

      Very interesting hub! Thanks for sharing this.

    • dragonflyfla profile image


      6 years ago from South Florida

      A lot of good points. I think the hardest to deal with is family. Voting you up and useful.

    • web923 profile image

      Bill Blackburn 

      6 years ago from Twentynine Palms, California

      Yes this was an interesting Hub! I'd never heard he term "Emotional Vampire" before, but I certainly will add it to my vocabulary. Thank you for this most enlightening Hub!

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      6 years ago from Chennai, India

      A very well-analyzed hub with valid points! I have met few such people. I maintained a distance from them. I prefer the company of positive and cheerful people. Once again, a sensible hub! Way to go!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      6 years ago from West By God

      Nicely done! I am beginning as of last year to drop negative people. It does take some soul searching and getting used to, because they do attache to you in a way. After I did the first one I felt relieved and did notice that I( had more energy. I simply told them that I wasn't going to play their silly games anymore.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      6 years ago from Florida

      Very interesting Hub and SO true. I no longer associate with people who "bring me down" by being negative. I surround myself with friends who are positive in life!

      Voted UP, and will share.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      midget...This hub is a winner....very well-written and with much validity. I can safely attest that even with a background in mental health, there can be negative individuals, far too difficult to cope with.

      I admit to placing a bit too much faith in my abilities to handle these particular types of situations. I have a "self-absorbed, pessimistic, self-pitying" friend, who I simply MUST take breaks from, now and then.

      She has her good points of course and I try to be loyal.....

      Thank you for spelling this out to your readers...very helpful!...UP+++

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent information. voted up!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Your points are all valid; that's why I have eliminated negative people from my life and will continue to do so. Life is too short to spend it in a dark cloud. :)

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      6 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, I have dealt a few of these types of people in my lifetime so far and you give some great suggestions here on how to actually cope with these types of people and their behaviors. Very thorough and great advice here. Have of course voted up and shared all over!!

    • midget38 profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Liew 

      6 years ago from Singapore

      An article on recognizing negative people and finding ways to cope with them.


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