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How to Minimize the Damage of a Negative Person

So I’m an optimist.

When I first started in leadership, I thought every person had potential.

If someone was negative, I thought they were just one step away from seeing the light and becoming positive.

As a few negative people came along, I decided to try to work alongside them. I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt, even letting them lead, each time thinking they would eventually become more positive.

For the first few years of my leadership, I let negative people have too much influence for too long, completely out of the conviction I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Let’s just say I learned the hard way it doesn’t always work out that way. Some people are just negative people.

While I cared (and still care) about them as people, I began to realize the stakes are too high to give negative people a significant role in our community.

A good friend of mine says negativity is contagious. I agree. If you don’t deal with negativity head on, it can infect and impact your entire organization, not to mention the fact that it will discourage and possibly defeat you personally.

So what do you do? So far this week on the blog we’ve outlined a simple filter that can help you process negative feedback, and shared seven signs that can help you identify negative people.

Now to wrap it up, let’s answer this question:

How do you minimize the impact of a negative person?

Here’s what I’ve learned to do once I’ve identified someone as a negative person:

1. Learn what you can, but don’t dwell on their remarks.

If you approach situations with humility, you can learn from anyone every time.

Find the nugget of truth in whatever they are saying about you or your organization, make the changes you need to make and emotionally and organizationally move on.

2. Don’t allow them into leadership.

There is a world of difference between having a variety of different opinions around a leadership table and having a negative person around the leadership table. A negative person sucks the energy out of a room and out of good leaders.

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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.