Negativity can creep into every aspect of our lives, if we let it. Negativity can stem from so many unique locations and for so many reasons that from some perspectives, it’s inevitable that we’ll have to deal with naysayers at some point on the road. Even if it’s inevitable, there are many ways that we can neutralize the effects of this kind of negativity. Here are five ways to neutralize negativity.
- Empathize. This one exercise alone can make a world of difference. There’s a phrase that makes the rounds on the internet time and time again, in various forms: everyone has a struggle you can’t see. Allow for the possibility of the struggle that’s invisible on the surface, and your own tension will drop. Your ability to empathize with another person’s unknown struggles also sets you up as an automatic advocate, which both gets you out of the immediate line of fire and offers a sense of sympathy without overtly committing to “fix” another person’s problems. Empathy is key in neutralizing negativity.
- Praise the positive. whenever you can. Even in the darkest of moments, we can count the good. Contrary to the negative rhetoric that can sometimes emerge in polite conversation, counting the positive in a situation (to yourself or to a third party) doesn’t aim to eradicate the bad; rather, praising the positive in a situation helps provide perspective on what tactics are working, support clear thinking on the best next steps to take, and revitalize flagging energy.
- Don’t stoop to argue. We’ve all encountered the negative influence that just has to argue. It can be challenging, but don’t give in to the urge to argue or insult. Agree to disagree if you must, but you probably won’t have to. It can be very helpful to state simply: “okay, here we are. How do we solve the problem?”
- Look for solutions-based conversation. As stated above, argument is rarely really productive. Instead, look at the environment you find yourselves in at the moment of negativity, and think about ways to solve the problem.
- Don’t focus on blame. As gratifying it can be to look for the person or event to blame a negative outcome on, it’s not really productive. Instead, the negativity of blame feeds on the negativity born from frustration. If someone needs to be held accountable, deal with that after the immediate threat has passed. In the short term, set the blame aside and focus on looking for actions that will neutralize or fix the situation. If you need to, go back and take disciplinary action later.
There’s no real way to ignore negativity in the world, in work or in our personal lives. Remembering to empathize and to speak about where you empathize, avoid arguments wherever possible, look for solutions and not getting trapped up in blame can all help to neutralize negativity and build a positive outcome out of a negative event. Bonus: you’ll be seen as a problem solver, which helps to lower negativity in the long term.