We all have them in our lives and they affect our relationships, our internal world, our attitude toward life and work, etc. We shortly call them negative people. But can we change them, can we make them better people to help us and them achieve better results and see the life from it’s brighter side?
These people often spot only the bad parts of a situation and overcome easily the positives that can emerge from each situation they are in. They always expect the worst to happen. These people even live in the bad parts of the past, pointing on the negativity that has happened, instead of trying to search and promote positives that have led to a change in the situation, decision and even style of living and wellbeing.
Maybe in most situations, these people are not aware that they are negative and they accept their behavior and state of mind as something usual. When dealing with this group of people, most of us may think that they have been born negative, because we don’t hear anything positive from them. And in some cases this is true. But negativity is not always genetic. In most cases it is learned trough activities, behavioral models and cultural elements, people have followed for a long period of time. “Taught” to be negative, these people even start to get payoffs from different situations they get in. A negative person, for example, can get a positive from a situation with high stress in the work by being excluded from the team suffering with a challenge because of their attitude. This can give this negative person to focus on other things without investing emotions and time in solving the current challenge. Another pattern of thinking for this group of people is: “If you expect the worse you will never be disappointed.”
These attitudes make all those negative people hard to deal with. If we want to involve them, and even want to try to change them a little bit and turn them to the positive side. Trying to change a negative person is not an easy task, but it is still worth trying. Here are my ways to change the negative person. They have worked for me and most of the partners I work with during the last 10 years. I strongly believe that they will help you with building your plan of ho to engage a negative person in achieving results.
Avoid negative reaction from your side
Your first reaction to a negative person may be also negative. You may ask yourself: “Does it really matter?” You may feel like you are sorry for the negative person, but still, your best first decision maybe just to exclude that person from team meetings, from decision-making procedures, from important projects, to not socialize with them, etc. And you will be wrong. Because these people are actually a good corrective to all your plan and action steps. Their contribution can save you and the team a lot of headaches in the process of achieving great results. Instead of ignoring them, you better start thinking about how to involve them and use their potential.
Look at the positives from negative people behavior for you
Negative people can actually be useful. When you need someone to spot the flaw in the plan, which is a useful thing to do in any team or any meeting, you can embrace that person’s negativity as a virtue. Often the negative approach coming from outside is a strong remark on what you have maybe missed when planning all the positives from a project or a task. The negative behavior, thoughts, and attitude you see in such type of person may help you to better prepare for different scenarios and even plan proactive actions how to minimize the possible negative effect from your actions and maximize positive results.
Bring negativity to the individual attention
Do not start by thinking that the person with the negative behavior is fully responsible for it. Assume that maybe this person does not know or understand how their behavior is seen by others and how that behavior affects their relationship with the world. Try to help them understand that by pointing on the behavior and trying to explain how it affects others. Some of the behaviors you will see in the negative person may be one time events, but others may have been adopted from the person as habits. Try to point on both of them, by showing them to the negative person.
If the behavior you have spotted didn’t happen before, you may bring it to the negative person’s attention with phrases like:
“Well, that is a quite negative view.”
“Can you see any advantage in this situation/plan/project, etc.?”
You can use almost the same model when you spot a habit. Although habits are harder to change, pointing on them can bring them to the negative person’s attention and make him/her think of them and also on possible reactions to them.
“Hey, you are always first to point the flaws and come up with the reasons why something won’t work.
Sometimes this looks great and is the right thing, but still, I want to ask you to try to be more positive at this particular meeting.”
”Can you try to do this?”
Coach them to better facilitate the needed change
Most negative people are not ready to change. They don’t accept the medicine you can give them, because this medicine can hurt their individuality, personality, and ego. But still, you can help them go through the process of personality change by supporting them with active coaching. Do not try to say to them how they have to change. Instead, help them accept what they have to achieve to change, by asking questions and searching for answers from the negative person. Some questions you can start with are:
What is your objective to commit change?
Do you have a plan for how you can achieve it?
What are the barriers to getting there?
How do you plan to overcome these barriers?
What will be the benefit if you can overcome the barriers?
Would this result be worth the effort you will commit to?
Use a positive approach to change the negative person
Moving through the steps above will help you and the negative person to work out some of the problems his or her behavior causes. But still, to move forward you need to focus on positivity. Establish a relationship where you and the negative person work on the negative elements of the behavior by using positive words and phrases and build positive mantras. Include communication and activities that focus on pointing all positives that can be achieved in words like:
“I can solve the problem”
“Things always work out positive for me”
These mantras help the negative person to reconfigure attitudes and thoughts from negativity, loss, and depression to success, win, and positivity.
In our lives, we meet people who are negative and let to live by themselves. In the 21st century, the reason why we have so many people around us with this negative attitude and behavior is that we don’t have many people who understand them and are ready to support negative people’s internal change as personalities. If we want to change the negative people and use their full potential to help our company and team achievements we need to focus on working closely with them by showing respect, appreciation, and readiness to walk the path for change together with them.