One of the life lessons we need to revisit ourselves from time to time, and help colleagues, friends and students with is how to deal with those, who no matter what the situation is, always find a way to find a dark cloud on a sunny day. (for another post on this subject click here) You know this person. He/she lives next door, eats with your lunch group, works with you, and (let’s hope its not true) possibly looks at you every day when you look in the mirror. Some things in life are constant, but Benjamin Franklin missed it when he left out miserable people in his famous quote: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” He surely knew about the gentleman or lady that always seems to show up, uninvited, and drowns out everything with rants about how awful this and that is? I would think so. We all have to deal with these people in varying degrees. Since tomorrow is a STAR mentoring day, here are a few pearls of wisdom that you can use with your students OR they may help you because it is not always possible to run away with your hands over your ears.
- Figure out where it is coming from. Most people who are constantly negative are trying to control people. They may not be aware on a conscience level that there negativism is causing others so much grief, but they do notice they can and do affect people with their behavior. That in itself is a reward and will cause the behavior to continue. The key is for you not to internalize the problem. You are not why this person is so miserable so do not take responsibility for it.
- Resist the need to help this person. If they are of the constant whining variety, you cannot save them the conventional way. Take stock in how you feel after dealing with this individual. Ask yourself this question: After trying to help this person I feel _________. If your answer is flushed down the proverbial toilet, exhausted, drained or worse….you are part of the problem, not the solution. These people feel the need to control and by making you listen and dragging you down, they are in control! They may not be making the conscious decision to manipulate you, but their actions are doing just that. Find a way to get away, if not physically, then in the proverbial sense. For example, immediately following a rant, jump to another subject as though you could care less about their problem. Another strategy might be to ask them to say something positive about where they are and state “that will make you feel better!” Do something to make them realize that your are the victim, not them!
- Be positive yourself. Birds of a feather flock together. Why are you hanging out with people who drag you down??????? Do you whine a lot yourself? Are you afraid the group will “rip” on you when you are not around. Sometimes these perpetual negative people are also bullies and people are afraid not to hang around for fear about what might be said in their absence. People have to have the self confidence to walk away and not care about what others are going to say. Be confident enough to be positive and not worry about your peers. After all, they can only drag you down if you let them.