Tired of Negative People?
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Tired of Negative People? by Christine Campbell Silva
I've discovered that one of the highest ranking causes of anxiety in the
workplace and in life in general is dealing with negative people. If negative
people are causing your stress levels to rise, what you need is a little
self-defense. While you might not need to be skilled in tae kwon do; a little
Tongue Kwon Do can go a long way.
Tongue Kwon Do (a phrase I coined in 2004) is the art of communication. It
involves arming yourself with phrases that will help you bring out the best in
people when they're at their worst. You see, as much as you might like to, you
can't control another person's behavior. However, it is possible to influence a
change in their behavior by changing your own communication style. When faced
with negative people, try some of these Tongue Kwon Do phrases:
Phrase #1: Do you want my help to solve a problem or do you want to vent?
This is a great question to ask when dealing with chronic complainers. If you
have complainers on your team, you may have the urge to run as soon as they open
their mouths. While that is one option, a much more effective tactic is to ask,
"Do you want my help to solve a problem or do you want to vent?" Often
complainers just want to vent. In that case say, "I've got four minutes. What's
on your mind?" At the end of the pre-determined time, wrap up with, "I hope that
helped; I really do have to get back to work now." Then get back to doing
whatever it is you do.
Phrase #2: What is hurting you so much that you feel you have to hurt me to
This is a phrase my friend taught me and it's particularly helpful when dealing
with an angry person. When someone is angry and lashing out at you, as hard at
it may be, don't take it personally. It's not about you; it's about what is
going on inside of them. When dealing with an angry person, realize that anger
is the result of two emotions: fear and/or pain.
It's very important to be mindful of your intention when asking this
question. Make sure you're asking from a place where you truly want to heal
instead of hurt and bring light instead of more anger. If you're feeling angry
yourself in the encounter, it's best to walk away until you've had a chance to
regain your composure. In that case, it's more helpful to ask yourself, "How am
I hurting and/or what am I afraid of?" It's a powerful question.
Phrase #3: You're right.
Agreeing is one of the quickest ways to end hostility when dealing with a
negative person who is belittling your feelings as a means to skirt an issue.
Gossipers often use the tactic of belittling in order to deflect their guilt for
their poor conduct. For example, suppose you told a colleague something in
confidence and he blabbed it to some of your co-workers and it's been bothering
you. Rather than saying nothing and allowing it to eat away at you, you've
decided to take action and confront your colleague about it. As you are telling
him how you feel about his violation of confidence, he tries to belittle your
feelings saying, "It was no big deal. Don't be so emotional."
With a little Tongue Kwon Do, you can maintain your position and your
self-control. You can say, "You're right. I am emotional. The emotions I'm
feeling right now are hurt and upset." You're now back to the issue at hand and
have skillfully avoided being sidetracked into a debate as to whether or not
you're being emotional.
Phrase #4: Maybe that's the way you see it.
This is an extremely effective phrase to use when faced with an opinionated
person who is not opening up to your point of view. Try saying: "Maybe that's
the way you see it, nevertheless this is the way I feel" or "Maybe that's the
way you see it, nevertheless, this is my point of view." This allows you to
present your side without backing down or becoming negatively opinionated
While these are just a sample of the phrases you can use when dealing with
negative people, the main thing to realize is you don't have to be a victim of
their behavior any longer. Whenever you're dealing with someone who is
complaining, angry, gossiping, opinionated, or exhibiting some other negative
behavior, you can use Tongue Kwon Do to protect yourself and to bring out his or
her best. When you do, watch as your interactions become less negative and your
work days flow more easily.