THE INC. LIFE

Have Someone Toxic in Your Life? Here Are Some Solutions

Some people are naturally pessimistic, but you can show them the brighter, more optimistic, side of life.

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BY Peter Economy - 11 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

No matter how much people stress positive energy, there will always be those around us that seem to weigh us down with their negativity. For some, pessimism is a way a life.

Rather than growing frustrated with their mindset--and maybe losing some friends and colleagues in the process--it's important that you know how to deal with them effectively.Here are 5 ways how.

1. Talk, but don't try to help

Certain people go to others looking for advice. With negative people, however, that's rarely the case. Rather, negative people usually just want to let off steam; hearing advice or rational things in heated moments of frustration rarely help. If you want to be able to maintain your positive attitude while engaging with someone negative, listen to and understand his or her frustration--but don't get more involved than that.

2. Have fun

Sometimes, as weighed down as these people might feel, all they need is someone to persuade them to get out of their funk and have fun. They don't need encouraging words or hand holding. They just want someone else to take charge and to let go, since they feel so out of control of and disenchanted with their own lives. Be that person, and you both will be happier.

3. Listen to what they're not saying

While negative people might complain a great deal, chances are, they're saying a lot more than you think under the surface. Pay attention to how they really feel--things they show between the lines. They might be joking as a coping mechanism, using dark humor to deal with how hurt they really are; they might playfully indulge in self-deprecation, but actually need reminders of their self-worth. If you feel up to it, noticing what negative people really need under the surface will strengthen your relationship.

4. Find out what makes them happy

Just because they're negative doesn't mean that things don't make them laugh. If you're struggling with finding topics to breach, look for subjects that interest them. What do you talk about that makes them smile? What do they feel passionate about? Is it their family, their friends, travel, or stories? Find what brings them joy, and remind them of that.

5. Empathize

When negative people feel down, certain tactics--like being told to cheer up or calm down--never work. Instead, they usually want you to understand where they're coming from and where their lives are at right now. Maybe they're overwhelmed with commitments they can't let go of; maybe they're between jobs, going through relationship problems, or are trying to gain stability in their lives. Regardless, they just want someone to share in their feelings with them and to feel like they're understood. Often, that alone will be enough to cheer them up.