Dealing with Negative people: 7 Simple Strategies Against Haters and Idiots

May 17, 2018 |Gideon Hanekom

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Dealing with negative people is sort of part of life. At some point or another, all of us will have to deal with negative people.

The problem is that if you don’t have some strategy for how to deal with haters and idiots, you can run the risk of losing yourself to their onslaught. 

So, let me share with you 7 simple strategies for dealing with negative people.

Anyone dealing with negative people on a regular basis knows just how challenging it can be.

If you’re not careful to protect yourself, they can end up really draining your time, energy, patience, and even overall state of mind.

You can literally end up in a situation where you are too scared to look at your text messages or emails or avoid answering any phone calls.

If you allow them, negative people can find a way into your head that ends up really hurting you.

At the end of a short 15-minute conversation, it can feel like life has been sucked right out of you.

Dealing with negative people

The thing that usually gets me most, is the mind games you play with yourself, especially leading up to some interaction with a person that impacted you negatively.

I start telling myself all sorts of things and imagine the strangest stuff, that I literally work myself up into a frenzy long before anything has actually happened.

In fact, most of the stuff I come up with in my mind end up not happening at all.

But I had to go through this inner turmoil and mental struggle with no added benefit to anyone, for some crazy reason.

Have you ever experienced that?

Now, I know that the immediate reaction is usually one of two things:

  • you either one want to lash out and put these people in their place, OR
  • you want to escape to someplace safe far away from your problems.

Even though these seem like good solutions, I can tell you that they are not.

Not long term anyway.

Here’s some good news instead …

Dealing with negative people is a skill you can learn, just like any other skill.

The good news is you can lessen the effects of their negativity by coming up with some sort of plan to deal with this challenge.

Firstly, before you do anything else, if you have negative people in your life right now, you need to realise something very important …

There’s nothing you can do to control how or why they do and say what they do!

And you don’t have to.

Because you do control HOW YOU respond or whether you respond at all.

The truth is, fighting fire with fire only leads to more fire.

In fact, I think it’s a dumb saying – unless you want more conflict and turmoil in your life.

The ancient Stoics had a much more effective approach – CONTROLLING ONESELF.

They didn’t see reacting or acting in anger as impressive or tough – they saw it as a mistake and weakness.

A weakness!

STRENGTH, for them, was the ability to maintain control of oneself.

It’s being the person who cannot be rattled, because they are in control of their emotions, rather than controlled by their emotions.

When you become controlled BY your emotions you’ve lost.

And it doesn’t really matter what we’re talking about here.

Whenever you are driven by emotion rather than clear thinking, especially in sensitive situations or relationships, you run the risk of saying and doing things you will later regret.

Trust me on this.

So, learn to maintain control of yourself.

That’s the first and most important skill you need to master in order to deal with negative people in your life.

Without that skill, any of the other strategies below will fall flat.

I can promise you that.

Work hard on mastering the ability to control yourself, and by that I mean, your emotions.

Now, in addition to that, you can also try the following strategies when dealing with negative people in your environment.

7 Simple Strategies for Dealing with Negative People

1. Be objective.

It’s important not to take the negative person’s comments personally.

Recognise that they are most pessimistic most of the time and take an unhelpful perspective on most things.

OR, they are just going through a more than usually difficult time right now.

They are most likely absorbed by their negative thoughts that they have a difficult time being tactful, and you’re unfortunately on the receiving end of that.

Making it about you, and saying or doing something silly, might be a costly mistake.

In reality, change your perspective and feel a little bit sorry, or bad, for them.

Then ask yourself:

Aren’t you glad that you don’t carry the same negative attitude about life?

It’s very difficult to be upset with someone when you genuinely feel sorry for them while being happy about your OWN life.

2. Keep the conversation light.

Some people simply enjoy feeling the emotional intensity that comes from being negative.

It’s like they feed on it.

So don’t give them anything to feed on.

A good way to do this is to steer the conversation to lighter topics, like the weather, movies, or sports to keep things from getting too intense.

This leads to the next point …

3. Avoid rewarding negative talk.

Sometimes we inadvertently encourage the negative person by being too supportive.

The very fact that we show them empathy or understanding encourages them to indulge in their negativity even more.

So good way to deal with that is to avoid engaging fully in the conversation when someone is being overly negative.

Instead, be enthusiastic and supportive when they’re being positive.

By doing this you’re actually unconsciously reinforcing positivity in them.

They will pick up that you are more open, receptive, and engaging, when they are positive, versus using negativity to get a reaction or sympathy.

Look, some people will literally create problems out of nothing to elicit some form of sympathy or reaction.

They thrive on it.

The way you can combat that is to keep your responses and attention to a minimum when the negative talk is flying, while positively reinforcing positivity when they display it.

4. Try not to be alone with them.

You won’t feel the brunt of the abuse when there are others to share the grief or onslaught.

Plus, the negative talker will usually be less intense when he/she doesn’t have the undivided attention of a single person.

It’s also much easier to excuse yourself from the conversation because you don’t feel like such a critical part of the interaction.

Also, if you’re in a sensitive situation where your words or reactions could be twisted and used against you later on, having someone else as part of that conversation is always wise.

In fact, I would encourage that even when you’re communicating online via social media or email.

Make sure, you have other witnesses when it’s appropriate.

It can save your skin later on.

5. Make a concerted effort to limit the amount of time you spend with them.

This is perhaps one of the other more important tips I can give you.

When negative people have found their way into your life, in some way or another, make sure that you limit the amount of time you spend with them.

Negative people that affect you negatively can end up becoming a leech that sucks their happiness and joy out of you.

The reality is, no matter how thick-skinned you think you are, every positive and negative experience in your life has some effect on you.

So take care of yourself and avoid spending more time with them than you need to.

Even if you work with negative people, and can’t avoid going to work, you can still control how much interaction you have as well as how much you entertain them during breaks.

Again, learning how to deal with negative people comes down to learning to control yourself – and that means your attention, time, focus, energy, words, and actions.

But, if you absolutely have to spend a lot of time with negative people, then it’s important to make it your aim to …

6. Be a positive influence.

You might be able to help the person feel more optimistic by being a positive influence in their life.

I mean, what other choice do you have.

When they work with you or if they are family, this is sometimes the best second prize.

So rather than entertaining their negativity, aim to be a positive influence in their life.

Who knows, you might just rub off on them?

If you think they’re simply lonely, perhaps you could get a group together and all go out for dinner.

Or maybe you could suggest a hobby.

Or introduce them to someone else that you think might be good for them.

See if you can identify a specific cause for their negativity and then assist them.

Lastly …

7. Eliminate them from your life.

This is kind of a last resort.

Especially if you’re kind-hearted, you’ll most likely want to save this option as a last resort.

Sometimes we have people in our lives that don’t have to be there, and it doesn’t make sense to maintain the relationship if that relationship only brings you negativity.

In that case, take some steps to eliminate them from your life.

There’s not much more than that I can say about it.

Apart from maybe, if you’re a kind-hearted, good person, you will most likely find it difficult to do because you will feel guilty.

But, the real question you need to be asking yourself is,

What is the cost of keeping these people (person) in my life?

Take Away …

Listen, dealing with negative people is a fact of life and something that we ALL must deal with from time to time.

It would be great if the world could be rid of haters and idiots – but as far as I can see that’s not happening anytime soon.

So, rather than waiting for a miracle, learn to control yourself AND start applying these 7 strategies above to keep their negative effects on your life to a minimum.

I hope you found this helpful.

Please leave me a comment or question below, as I love hearing from you.

live and love fully my friend 1 dealing with negative people

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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