No one likes a negative Nancy. While you might be making an effort to live a more positive life, you can’t always control the way that others act. The good thing is, you can control how you react. If they’re being negative and you don’t want to engage, it can get awkward (and messy), which is why we’ve rounded up 10 tips on how to react differently next time you’re stuck or being dragged down.

Most people deal with these types of situations in one of two ways: by joining in or avoiding it altogether. While avoiding it may be your first instinct, it may not always be the best choice. Avoiding a negative situation can lead you to miss out on important things and important relationships with people who were once great friends. On the other hand, if you join in on the conversation and start adding complaints of your own, it can bring down your mood and lead people to believe you are their vice for their negativity.

So…how do you respond to negativity? Luckily, there are several ways to approach a negative situation, but there are some things to remember before you respond and get sucked into that negative energy yourself. Next time you find yourself in a negative situation, keep these 10 tips in mind.

10 Tips on Responding to Negativity


1. Try to Understand

Try to understand where the other person is coming from. What is their intent? Are they looking for advice or are they just complaining to complain? Often times people who act rudely or negatively are that way because of outside reasons and other factors. Try to understand where they are coming from before you react.

Response: “Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you’re upset because…”

2. Be Mature

Remember to be mature and handle the situation with pride and confidence. Defend yourself and your desire to stay positive. Stay strong and don’t act like they are, it will only cause more problems, and isn’t that what you are trying to avoid?

Response: “I am sorry to hear that. Did anything good come out of it?” Or shoot them a compliment — “Wow, that sucks. I am very sorry that happened, but I’m pretty impressed with how you’ve been able to manage this whole thing!”

3. Don’t Take Things Personally

You should never take anything a negative person says personally. As mentioned above, they might be talking out of anger and might not always mean what they say at the moment, so it might be best to just brush those things aside and focus on redirecting their negative energy elsewhere. Don’t let them get under your skin!

Response: “Oh goodness. Well, I’m sure you’d rather talk about something happier. What else is new?” You can also begin to share something in your life.

4. Don’t Judge

Although it is incredibly easy, be careful not to turn to place judgments too quickly. Instead, just listen to what they have to say. Maybe it’s not as negative as you thought. Those who are too quick to pass judgments can cause even more conflict and negativity to arise.

Pro Tip: Take a minute to analyze the situation, realize why they are acting that way, and try to understand that it likely is just out of anger/frustration. Therefore you shouldn’t judge them based off of this alone.  

5. Be Open to Change

Try to see things differently. You may not agree with the other person, but you can completely change the outcome of a situation by controlling your reactions to it.

Response: “Oh wow I can’t imagine. How do you typically handle something like that?”

6. Smile

Kill them with some kindness and a smile! While it may seem “immature” to flash a smile at someone being negative, it could be all they really need to change their attitude.

Pro Tip: Smiling is contagious! If you are smiling, chances are it will make them happier, or at least lighten the mood.

7. Don’t Rationalize Their Behavior

Never rationalize a negative person’s behavior. Although they may be acting that way for outside reasons (hence why it is important to try to understand where they are coming from etc.), don’t make it seem okay or justified for them to bring their negativity to you. This could bring on a pattern of this behavior with that particular person, and you don’t want that. They need to know that they are being negative and that you don’t welcome that kind of behavior.

Pro Tip: Be honest! Let them know that you are sorry and that you understand where they are coming from, but you would rather talk about something more positive. They might not even realize how intense or how negative they are being to begin with.     

8. Maintain a Positive POV

Make sure you maintain a positive mindset and a realistic point of view. Negativity can drain your energy and change your mood, so stay strong and stay positive. Most importantly, don’t sink down to their level, so change the subject if you have to.

Response: “Oh gosh. Well, I’m sure you would much rather talk about something happier. What else is new?” 

9. Separate Yourself

Negative people can drain your energy, so it’s okay to separate yourself from the situation if you need to. That doesn’t mean you are avoiding it, just let them know that you need to remove yourself. After all, you should always be looking out for #1 (YOU!). If you don’t want to do it, don’t!

Response: “I know where you are coming from, but I am sorry I cannot speak about this with you right now.” You can also say things like “Wow, that’s no good, but I don’t want to get involved.” Also feel free to reveal that you are trying to be positive! Maybe it will rub off!  

10. Show Compassion

Just listen. Sometimes all someone needs is an ear to listen to their problems, so just be there for them and listen. Offer help if you feel the desire, but they may not want it, they may just be looking to vent.

Response: “Is there anything I can do?” If you have ever been in a similar situation as they are describing, you can also share your story to let them know you understand and offer some advice.   

It can get awkward when someone starts spewing negative thoughts and complaints at you. Now, you can approach every situation with confidence knowing you have 10 ways to react differently in order to combat their pessimistic attitude. Just remember to be honest, upfront, and make sure you don’t get sucked into the negativity!

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