Negative people, if you let them, will suck the joy out of your life. They are skilled at seeking out people who will enable their toxic behavior–usually their prey are highly empathetic people. The negative person will take anyone who shows them empathy for all they are emotionally worth. To be sure, it can be difficult to handle these individuals. And although you might want to help them, your efforts will often go unappreciated or will be met with more derisive remarks. It’s a roller coaster of a ride but you don’t have to participate.

Here are 9 strategies to help you handle negative people:

1. Choose your battles

You do not have to participate every time someone irritates you. The act of engaging welcomes the negativity into your life. Do your best to ignore toxic comments. Control your emotions. This will help deescalate the situation. Others will respect you and you will respect yourself for taking the high road.

2. Do not judge or assume

We all come from different walks of life. Some of us haven’t learned how to appropriately control emotions and handle stress. Others have had rough lives that have contributed to their negative outlook. And your standard of living doesn’t always match up to that of others. Being so, judging others or assuming anything about their lives is not only narrow-minded, it’s an ineffective approach to problem solving. When dealing with a negative person, you would do well do operate on facts alone.

3. Stay positive

Your well-being is too important to let anyone’s rude comments affect how you view yourself. Remember, their negativity has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. If you must be around this person, try exuding your positivity and confidence with a big smile. As a result, they might adopt your contagious mood. Or, if that fails, they will find your happiness repulsive and they will remove themselves from your life.

4. Set boundaries

You are under no obligation to sit and listen to a negative person. Set limits and put some space between yourself and this individual. If you have to be around a negative person, try to keep your time with them short. However, depending on the situation, doing this may prove to be difficult. Even so, see if you can spend slightly less time around them. Doing this will keep your own spirits from falling as well.

5. Change the subject

Derail the negativity train by changing the subject. However, simply changing the subject without first acknowledging their remark will make you come off as rude. You don’t have to enable them by offering sympathy, but you can say something such as “oh, I see”, then redirect the conversation elsewhere.

6. Don’t take on their problems

While empathy can be a blessing, it can also be a curse. Feeling what others feel can help you understand their struggles, but that doesn’t mean you have to take on the burden. Negative people seek out anyone who will show them sympathy. Don’t fall into their trap.

And don’t fall victim to false guilt. If you didn’t cause the problem, you are under no obligation to fix it. This especially applies to people who refuse to talk about solutions. No matter how badly you feel for not doing anything, with some people, know that your efforts would likely be fruitless.

7. Maintain maturity

Don’t stoop to their childish behavior.  While it’s natural to want to defend yourself against toxic comments, doing so is counterproductive. Chances are, the negative person only wants to argue or is looking to get a rise out of you for attention. Maintaining a mature approach will keep them from dragging you down with them. Tread carefully, and let logic rule your moves. If you find yourself getting emotional, excuse yourself and walk away. If you must respond, stand firm and do your best to keep your tone void of strong emotions.

8. Be compassionate

While you should never excuse bad behavior, understanding where it comes from can help you see the situation objectively. Not everyone who behaves negatively intends to do so. Often negative people act the way they do because they are dealing with stressful situations, such as family, finances, job, etc. Having compassion doesn’t mean you should enable their negativity with an abundance of sympathetic comments. It’s more of an alteration of your perception of them. With that in mind, you can view their behavior for what it truly is—an act of desperation.

9. If all else fails, cut ties

Despite your best efforts, you can’t change people unless they want to change. If you’ve exhausted all your energy into making the relationship work and nothing has improved, it might be time to walk away. While you might be expected to have some semblance of a relationship with a family member, you should cut ties with anyone else. Invest your precious energy elsewhere, with people who will appreciate it.

Power of Positivity