No matter where you are, they will find you. At school, at work, sometimes even at home, negative people lurk around every corner. Negative people are unavoidable and exhausting. The cynical droning of a pessimist sounds a lot like what I imagine a zombie apocalypse would sound like, only instead of “bbrrraaaiinns” they say “wwwhhhiiiinnee”. It is as a good friend of mine once said “[negative] people, can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em.”
Negative people are an unavoidable part of reality, and as such, we need to consider how to respond to them. Here are five ways to respond to negative people.
Respond with Patience
Have you ever stopped and wondered why some people are so negative ALL THE TIME? Maybe it has something to do with how they were raised? Maybe their job is a strain on their everyday life? Maybe they have some chronic medical illness that causes them to have a sour outlook on life? Whatever the reason may be, we have to be patient with them. No, that doesn’t mean we let them spew their negativity all over us for the rest of our lives, but it does mean that we patiently deal with them, knowing that the Lord is patient with us, and hope that their negativity one day runs its course.
Respond with Kindness
When dealing with those people who are constantly negative, it can sometimes be tempting to verbally ring their neck after they finish yet another cynical rant. This is especially irritating when it comes to pessimistic Christians. I often want to look them dead in the eye and shout “how can you complain after all that God has done for you, you little jerk!” But then I realize that 1) I’m negative sometimes too, 2) that’s a rude thing to say and 3) that people have always been this way (Ex. 16:2-3, 17:2-3). When someone gives me negativity, I do my best to respond to them as pleasantly as I can. Just because they fail to remember God’s blessings, doesn’t mean that we have to. Their attitude doesn’t have to bring us down, and even the worst person is still deserving of kindness.
Respond with Positivity
This really falls in line with the previous point, but I thought it worthy enough to stand on its own. It’s always tempting to respond to the negative person with negativity of your own. Don’t stoop down to their level. Instead of responding with the same tone, attitude, and mindset they are, do your best to build them up with your speech (Eph. 4:29). Shed some light on their dark cloud, help them see the good in their bad, and do your best to help turn their frown upside down.
Respond with Prayer
We pray for help, our enemies, evangelism opportunities, our government, and for a number of other things. It would be wise for us to spend time praying for those people who are negative as well. Praying helps the negative person in that it gets God involved in their struggle, working to help them see the error of their ways. Praying helps us too in that it makes us more patient with and kind to that person knowing that God is working behind the scenes.
Respond with Nothing
If all else fails, walk away. Sometimes negative people are just going to continue to be negative and there’s nothing you can do about it. As it turns out, a lot of negative people are oblivious to their poor attitude. If they can’t get it through their heads that they’re not enjoyable to be around, take some time away from them. Don’t allow their draining pessimism to infect you anymore. This doesn’t mean that you never talk to them again, but it does mean that you won’t be around them as much as maybe you were before. Negativity is infectious, but so is positivity. Be a positive light to them, but don’t allow them to steal all of your warmth.
It doesn’t matter where you are; there is probably at least one negative person there. Though it can be very draining, we owe it to those negative people to give them a chance to grow up and move on. Be patient, kind, positive, prayerful, and if all else fails, non-existent (not forever, but for a little while).
To the negative Christian reading this, don’t forget what God has done for you. Seriously, you’ve got a lot of reasons to be joyful. As Christians, let’s always keep in mind the great things God has done for us, and do our best to be positive representatives of Him.
(Editors Note: This is a repost from our old Strong Church website. Content within the post may refer to past events as present or future as a result)