All of us, no matter how naturally chirpy, bubbly, light-hearted or fun, can go through moments of negativity. For some it’s confined to particular topics or situations, like work, relationships or our in-laws. For others, there is no rhyme or reason and it just depends on the day or mood we’re in. This is perfectly normal.
The kind of negativity to be discussed here is the more permanent type. The sort that has, for whatever reason, become engrained into someone’s personality and appears to seep into every fibre of their being. It can present itself as complaining, as being realistic, as being honest, or a whole host of other euphemisms they choose to use.
The question is, what type of person do you think you are, and would your closest friends and family agree? Is your own negativity part time, or do people see it as a full time character trait?
Let’s be clear, this is not about people who are truly going through difficult and negative times in their life. It’s about a state of being and communicating that takes little provocation or outside influence. It’s worth bearing in mind also, that negative people aren’t always aware of their behaviour. Rather than tell them, it can be easier for others to limit their time with them, or to avoid sensitive topics all together.
Getting to know yourself
If you’re not sure what people think of you, why not come right out and ask them? If this is far too direct for you, then there are also some signals you can look out for to get an idea of how friends or colleagues view you. If more than a few of the below statements resonate, or one does a lot, think about what it means and whether or not there are some changes you want to make to your behaviour.
- People tell you things such as you’re so negative, or that you’re so hard on yourself or others
- People often ask you if there were any good points to a story or experience you’re sharing
- When listening to someone else’s experiences, they frequently need to remind you that it’s not a competition
- Friends or family often try to have you focus on the different, positive side of a situation, rather than the story you’re telling or want to tell
- People close to you frequently preface conversations with I need you to be positive
- You have a reputation for being cynical or judgemental or lacking tact
Another way to check your own behaviour is to think about the last time you actually encouraged another adult to do something, told them they were capable, and that regardless of your own experiences or what you’ve heard, they have your full support.
How it feels for the people around you
To be on the receiving end of negativity is one of the most draining places to be. There are times when you’re literally able to feel the energy draining from your body and it can result in the desire to stop communication all together.
If you know people glaze over when you speak, sigh, or they become more and more withdrawn, start to pay attention to how you’re responding to the things they tell you. Recognise if you’re one of these people who only moves between outright negativity and the low tones of oh, good luck with that.
Practice being excited for someone – practice stepping outside your view of how terrible or complicated everything is.
Different lives, different perceptions
There are some people with lives that unfortunately seem to warrant the amount of negativity they emit into the world. They’re used to being let down or things rarely going their way. Whilst empathy may be your first port of call, be careful for your own sake how much of it you give away.
Some people aren’t satisfied with sharing their perceptions of the world and are actively waiting for company in their negativity. Some even pretend that their view is fact or the norm and that you’re simply yet to experience the truth of life that they have. If you’re a generally positive person then don’t buy it. Spot it quickly and protect yourself as much as you need to.