7 Signs You’re Dealing With a Negative Person

Negative people

While we’d all rather avoid it, negativity is a part of life. Chances are you got some negative feedback already this week, and you’re not sure how to process it.

Do you take it to heart, even though it stings? Or dismiss it, and run the risk of ignoring helpful feedback?

Even though it’s unavoidable, negative feedback can derail you—even stunt your progress—if you don’t know how to handle it.

To begin with, there’s a world of difference between receiving feedback from a generally positive person who makes meaningful contributions to the culture and people around him or her, and receiving feedback from a truly negative person.

The first strategy for dealing with negative feedback is to determine whether you are dealing with negative feedback from a positive person or negative feedback from a negative person. You can read about that here.

That distinction will help you develop a filter to figure out the difference between the two. Negative feedback from a positive person can almost always be helpful. Negative feedback from a negative person is rarely as useful.

So how do you know if you’re dealing with a negative person? Here are seven signs:

1. Their negativity is part of a pattern

You’ve seen their negativity before. Maybe they’re a frequent flyer in your inbox or at congregational meetings. But it’s not an isolated, out-of-character incident you’re looking at.

The criticism you’re dealing with is ‘in character’ for them.

2. They’re negative about more than just your organization

Not only are they upset about something you or your team has done, but they’re angry about work, about a whole host of retail experiences, about how bad the world has become and long list of other grievances.

3. They fail the call display test

As subjective as this sounds, the call display test is a pretty good indicator of whether a person drains you or energizes you. When you see anyone’s name come up on your caller ID, you get an immediate emotional reaction to it.

Sometimes you’re thrilled to see the name and can’t wait to take the call. Other times you’re neutral. But sometimes you wince. Whether it’s a phone call, a text or an email, you respond negatively and quietly think “oh no.”

That’s a sign that the person’s overall influence in your life has been negative, not positive.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.

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