Monday, July 1, 2013

Whoa there! Negative Nelly!

For the five weeks in July, every Monday we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

There are some people whom you hate to see coming. When they open their mouths, you know what's coming next. It won't be positive. It won't be encouraging. It won't be helpful. It will be negative, emotionally-draining and leave you feeling worse than you did before they showed up. This is Negative Nelly or Negative Nelson.

Nelson's glass is half-full. In fact, it's less than half-full, it's almost empty. And, if you ask Nelly, she'll tell you why. It's the waiter's fault. She never gets good service at this restaurant. In fact, service hasn't been good since the 70's. "Why, oh why, can't we go back to that time?!"

Negative Nellies/Nelsons refuse to see the bright side of anything. Usually, they aren't just looking for the dark side, they are also looking for who to blame for the clouds. As someone who has to deal with this type of person, recognize that it isn't your job to understand them and it certainly isn't your role to change them. All you can do is decide how you will interact with them.

  1. Don't encourage them. When you need someone to complain to or to commiserate with you, do not call Nelly! She'll take it and run with it. More importantly, she'll begin to see you as a kindred spirit, someone who shares her demoralizing outlook.
  2. Stop them. Once they start, change the subject or just excuse yourself. You do not have to be subjected to a long-winded diatribe. When you start feeling drained, change the subject. If that doesn't work, excuse yourself - end the conversation, stop the texting, get off the phone. 
  3. Refute them. Since Nelson and Nelly are usually looking for someone to blame, they may start looking at you, especially if you aren't taking their negativity. Have some information to counter them ... this is especially true on the job. Be armed with information to challenge them when they turn their negative eye towards you. The purpose isn't to confront or engage them. It is simply to stop them and make it clear that they need to focus their efforts elsewhere. You will not tolerate it.

Next Week: We'll be dealing with Saboteurs - the--people who actively stand between you and your success!

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