Realising you cannot change them, only they can change themselves, I make sure not to let them drag me down with them. Also I spend the minimum time with them that I can get away with.
Also remembering not to get frustrated when you put forth effort in trying to help them. And don't expect a thank you or acknowledgement from them, even when you know that you have made a positive difference to them.
Try and keep things in perspective - is there anything positive about them. If you look really really hard with a microscope you'll probably find something. Nobody's all bad! Keep that in mind, and as stricktdating said, don't take it personally.
Lastly, be thankful that you yourself do not have their negative attributes and see what you could learn from their mistakes.
First, I try to brighten the day around them. If they keep bringing me down or others, I talk to them about it. Give possibilities of way not to be so depressing to others and themselves. If all else fails, leave them alone.
When a person says something negative I find the positive side and continue to do so until they get the hint. They will either be quiet or go away. I've also given books as gifts that are about being positve.
Produce and maintain awareness of their own behavior and choose to act in a different way (i.e., without using the auto responder that protective ego) can avoid negative encounters with people of the increase. This cannot help the person who is talking about something negative, it will give you control over your response to the situation. Your choice is not communicated in a way that is not productive eliminates the possibility of repeating the conversation in your head for days to think about all the hints you want to say!
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