Life Advice



Barton Goldsmith: How to avoid negative people

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

Eight more steps to happiness

When life hands me lemons, I do try to make lemonade, but when it hands me negative people, I usually make my way to the nearest exit. I deal with real pain in people every day. Others who just complain to be negative, I can do without. Perhaps you feel the same way. Here are a few ways of dealing with the negative people in your life.

1. Stay off social media

Much easier said than done, I know. It’s nearly impossible for me to do, since I’m contracted to post daily, but some days I just post and shut down. I have gotten into arguments with people I didn’t know and been insulted by people I have complimented. People no longer get drunk or high and call their friends or enemies; they post on Facebook.

2. Steer clear of angry acquaintances

Sometimes people you don’t really know get angry with you: neighbors, old schoolmates, even friends of former friends may get in your face, or they may create distance from you. I prefer the latter and demand it if they try the former. Honestly, when someone shows me their ire, I hit my off switch, and I am done with them. You should be too.

3. Ask for a sit-down when a family member gets upset and projects it on you

Yes, you could move or have them abducted by aliens, but talking is so much easier. Usually people aren’t upset for the reason they think they are, so a little bit of empathy may help your family member focus on the real problem. It will also be easier for both of you if they know they have your help and understanding.

4. Set limits when you need to

For example, do you know a constant complainer? If so, you must treasure the friendship, but be aware that being bombarded with someone else’s negative issues can be emotionally taxing. So set some boundaries. You can say, “I need to go now.” Or suggest, “You might want to talk with a therapist.” If you do this consistently, and your friend values you, they will stop.


5. Value kindness over connections

Some people you may admire and even respect can also have negative personalities. You may think they have something to offer you, but if it’s not delivered with kindness, then it’s useless. People who bully themselves through the world may achieve some success, but they don’t make good friends.

6. Always be ready to leave a party

I enjoy a nice social gathering, but when they get out of hand, usually because of too much alcohol, the energy of the room can go negative fast. This is a good time to make your exit. I just ask my lovely wife if she’s ready to leave, and we say our goodbyes.

7. Choose your friends wisely

Hang with people who have the same core values as you do, and you will encounter much less negativity. I’m not really a joiner, but when I find a group of like-minded people, I stay a member for as long as they will have me.

8. Avoid curmudgeons and misanthropes if you can

These are people who don’t like anything and continually complain about it. It can be draining to be around them, but if they are family members, avoiding them can be problematic. Seeing them as slightly broken and harmless can help you cope.

Unless you live in a fantasy land, there will always be some negative people in your world. Using the above techniques will help you avoid taking in their negativity. Emotional pain is probably what makes people behave this way, and just knowing this can also help you.

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