How to Communicate Positively with Negative People

by Karen Kleinschmidt
Continuing to communicate in a positive manner is key to interacting with a negative person.

Continuing to communicate in a positive manner is key to interacting with a negative person.

Solid communication is essential to getting your point across. Complications arise when the person you are speaking with attempts to put a negative twist on what you intend to be a positive message. Negative people often see the glass as half empty; it's a challenge for them to see it any other way. There always seems to be a cloud hanging over them. Learning to channel your frustration and communicate positively with negative people takes extra work. At the same time, it prevents the negativity from spreading, allowing you to stay positive.

Accept the negative person as she is. You can not change someone's demeanor. Trying to control or manipulate the conversation in any way could possibly cause the person to become defensive, leading to an increase in the negative attitude. Continue with your positive communication; it may eventually rub off on the negative person.

Pay close attention to the tone of the conversation. Use your own positive outlook to prevent it from turning negative. Listen with empathy and restate what is said to you with a positive spin on it. For example, the negative person may say, "All we ever do is work. We never get a break." Your response might be, "We certainly work hard around here. It's going to feel great when we get this project done and can go home on time." In this way you are validating his thoughts and feelings while allowing your positive demeanor to shine through.

Acknowledge the fact that negative people may suffer from low self-esteem or self-image making it difficult to accept a compliment. Use positive statements beginning with the word "you" when talking to the negative people in your life. In a 2012 "Psychology Today" article, Preston Ni advises complimenting the negative person with a fact which leaves little room for defensiveness. For example, make comments such as, "You really held the crowd during your presentation yesterday; I recall them applauding you afterwards." If she responds in a negative manner, repeat your praise with a smile. Over time, you may discover your conversations take on a positive nature on both sides.

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  • There are instances when you will not be able to effectively communicate with negative people. Take a deep breathe and, if needed, a step back.
  • Excuse yourself politely and walk away from a negative conversation that is bringing you down.

About the Author

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.

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