I don’t know that anyone wants to be the negative one in relationships.
With the person you love. With your family and friends. With your work relationships.
We know that people don’t really want to be around negative people. But sometimes negativity can creep into our lives. We may not even realize that we’re being negative. It may have happened over a long time. Maybe the result of a few negative things.
Whatever the reason, you realize now that you’re the negative person and you want to change.
Here are a few ways to do that…
1. Listen & Validate
We like to be listened to, but we don’t often give others the same courtesy. It must be something in human nature that makes us do that.
One way you can make other people feel positive is to give them your full attention. Listen to them. Acknowledge what they’re saying. If they’re looking for feedback make sure to validate what they’re saying. That’s mostly what people are looking for in conversation.
Sometimes the validation can be difficult, but usually we can find something in what the person is saying that we agree with. We can let them know that we agree and that what they’re thinking is positive.
2. Ask Questions
If you’re not quite sure what the other person is talking about then go ahead and ask questions. Go into it with a curiosity and a belief that you can learn something from the other person.
Most people get a good feeling when they are helping others. And it can be in small situations like conversations with friends.
Let others feel like they’re helping you. Ask them questions. But make sure the questions are about the topic they are discussing. It’s negative to change the conversation.
Asking questions keeps things positive.
Sometimes people are looking for encouragement on top of validation. Say a friend comes to you and they want to talk about improving their diet. You can validate by agreeing that a change in diet is typically a great thing for most people. You can also encourage them to do so. Bring positivity by saying that you believe they can do it. Ask them questions about what they plan on doing to change it.
Be careful with the advice. That can lead down a tricky path of judgment or making the person feel like you’re taking over the conversation.
People have a difficult time making changes in their lives. Do your part to be positive by offering encouragement to those you encounter. Only good things can likely come from doing so.
4. Diffuse Negative Self-Talk
Sometimes the people you encounter will come to you with negative talk. About the world. About themselves. About their situation. They’re looking to throw a pity party.
The positive thing to do in this situation is a little counterintuitive. But you want to try to diffuse their negativity. It’s tricky, though. Acknowledge the way they’re feeling. You don’t want to diminish their feelings. But after acknowledging them try to steer the conversation back to the positive side. Try to encourage. Remind them of the good things they have done and the good things they can do.
5. Remove Judgment
This is a big one in the negative world. It’s not easy for a lot of us. But you have to try to have conversations while removing your judgment of the other person.
For one, you’re never really entirely sure of what the full story is. It might seem like the person is making bad choices in their life, but do you really know the full story?
Even if they are making bad choices, you can help them by asking questions. Try to learn more. Hold back on the advice unless they really keep asking you for your thoughts.
Instead, try to find the positives in what they’re saying. Try to bring things back to optimism.
6. Offer Optimism
And that’s the final tip: optimism.
Bad things happen. Human life is tragic. But it’s a whole lot better than many of the alternatives.
I like what the famous radio broadcaster, Paul Harvey, often said…
The world is better today than at any point in human history. And tomorrow will be even better.
We don’t often think about it that way, but it’s the truth.
Will bad things happen in the future? Yes. But we can’t prevent most of them anyway. And many, many more good things will happen in the future.
There is so much reason for optimism.