Difficult Behavior – What To Do With Negative People

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Difficult Behavior – What To Do With Negative People

June 29, 2009 Dealing with Difficult People 2

siggyonair2-copySo what to do about negative energy, particularly when it’s directed at you?  Well, I agree with those who say that if you find your energy is drained around certain people, it makes no sense to be around them unless you absolutely have to.  And in the case of my passive agressive letter writer, I considered that letter in the context of all the feedback I had gotten, instead of giving it more credit for accuracy than it deserved.

And there’s the rub. In life, we are sometimes required to hang out around people that are very different than ourselves. And the reality, to me, is that if I find someone ‘draining’ on my energy, that’s not about that person, that’s about my response to that person. I’d rather solve the problem where it is instead of where it isn’t. That means cutting out the middle man and changing my response. 

Obviously, I believe this is an option for anyone who chooses to take responsibility for their reactions instead of empowering their projections. Change what you’re telling yourself, change how you see them, change the feelings you access around them, and then ‘they’ can’t drain you anymore, because it wasn’t them in the first place.

I hope I’m not being argumentative here, or draining your energy 😉 by engaging with you on this subject. But I think it’s important enough to comment, because it seems to me that we live in a world with a lot of projection and blame. If not for them, if not for him, if not for her, if not for that, I’d be fine, but (best Steve Martin voice) Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse meeeeeeeee!

In my opinion, it just doesn’t hold up. Yes, there are people that are easier to resonate with than others, but that doesn’t diminish the worth of those others, or even the value they might represent in our lives if we got past our opinions and reactions and discovered what’s interesting about them. I’ve had people in my life who had little to say other than emphasizing the negative. I don’t argue with people doing that. Frankly, I usually get a kick out of it. Sometimes, I use it to remind myself to say something positive to myself whenever they’re around doing their thing. The result:  I wind up refreshed in their presence! 

So for me, it’s negative, schmegative. How about different. And differences are interesting. I believe it was Mr. Spock’s people who said ‘Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’ is a path of honor and respect.  If Klingons tried that, they’d have fewer of their kind to shun, right?

I think I have a firm basis for what I’m saying here.  I think I’m being realistic.  I did (co)write a book about ‘dealing with people you can’t stand,’ (that’s not a plug, but a fact…) so this isn’t unfamiliar territory. In fact, there’s a whole section filled with tactics and strategies for ‘No’ people and ‘Whiners.’ 

There’s the characterization of negative in people who are harmless if not innately a pleasure to be around. That’s what I’ve been talking about. And then there are the people and organizations that are an actual negative influence on others, because of their lies, hidden agendas, coercive and deceitful tactics, and their willful and unethical manipulation of ignorance that allows them to foist their cons, hustles and scams on people desperately seeking a conversion hysteria experience to liberate them from their unhappy lives.

When it comes to that kind of negative influence, if I have the option to flee, I’m all for having a negative reaction and getting myself and as many other people as possible as far away as fast as possible. If running is not an option, I’m for standing up to it, telling the truth about it, and speaking out about it in any way that might give at least a bit of protection to the naive and unthinking person.

But you know the saying about ‘when life hands you lemons make lemonade?’ I offer you this playful challenge. The next time one of those draining “I was weaned on a pickle’ people is near enough to you to observe, I say switch gears, pay attention, ask yourself, “What sense am I making, and how do I know I’m right? How is their behavior possible? What else could it mean? Where might that actually be useful?” and find out if that changes your internal state when they’re around. I would love to hear what happens to you as a result of trying this suggestion.

And on that sour note, I’m outta here!  Back next time with something less negative.  Meanwhile, if it isn’t too much trouble, let me hear your thoughts…



2 Responses

  1. Guest says:

    This is awesome! I don’t like the common wisdom of blaming/ avoiding people who ‘bring you down’, and of being afraid of being myself in case I am one of ‘those negative people’ who should be avoided like the plague. I think it’s ironic that people claim “you should to be responsible for your own reactions”, then blame and avoid people because they ’cause’ a ‘negative’ reaction in you. I did read your book about dealing with people you can’t stand, and it’s great too. Compassion and wisdom that applies to so many situations! Thank you!

  2. Dr. K says:

    Thank you for your comment and feedback, it is much appreciated! And, as they say, great minds think alike. *(you/me/great minds)

    The blame game is foolishness, because it only makes victims and doesn’t produce meaningful change. We’re all on this planet together, and that means learning to live with unruly people who put the coarse in discourse, and people who remind us of our own good fortune as we come in contact with their bad fortune.

    So people get burdened by life and overwhelmed. That doesn’t make them bad. And while negativity only narrowly describes a rich field of behavior, I deem it a valid response to life on this earth for the person who lacks resources or resourcefulness.

    I hope you will come back and comment again!

    Best wishes,

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