BY DAN ROCKWELL
Negative people stir the slop and smell the same stink over and over. It’s exhausting.
3 hard-and-fast rules for dealing with negative people:
1. The three-time rule:
It’s your responsibility when Dark David rehearses the same dark concerns for the umpteenth time. You let it happen.
Never talk about negative issues more than three times, unless Dark David actually does something to move forward.
Listening with empathy makes matters worse when it’s an excuse to restate the same problems, disappointments, or offences.
Negative words have trajectory.
Negative words eventually lead to destructive attitudes and actions.
2. The rule of confrontation:
When Sad Sam brings up his pet personal problem, say, “Sad, when are you going to move forward?” Listen closely to Sad’s response.
Sad Sam will likely head back to the same slop and start stirring the same stink.
Don’t confront Sad Sam the first time he brings up a painful situation. Listen with empathy. “I’m so sorry this is happening.”
Three conversations later, Sad Sam says, “You don’t understand.” You say, “What would be true if I did understand?”
Dark David says, “I can’t change this.” You say, “Let’s make a list of 10 positive actions someone in your situation might take.”
Ask, “Who might know?” when someone is stuck.
3. The rule of restraint:
Restrain yourself after a failed third attempt to be helpful.
You spoke to Negative Nancy about moving forward, but she’s enthralled by the abyss. Nothing changes…
She continues trying to solve her concern using methods that haven’t worked. Or worse, she does nothing.
Explain yourself before you pullback.
“Hey Nancy, I’ve told you what I think about this situation. It’s never good enough. You’re important to me. If I can be helpful, please let me know. I want you to know that I’m not bringing up this issue again.”
Relax. Let it go.