We have all come across those perpetual ‘Negative Nancies’,
the people that manage to put a downer on even the most exciting of news!
As you get older you start to filter these out of your friendship group,
however, how do you deal with them in your family or as co-workers?
This is something I have been trying to learn over my whole working life,
and whilst I still find it hard to deal with toxic negative people,
I wanted to share with you what I’ve learnt!

Alot of research has been carried out into the effect of constant negative thoughts on the brain. According to Dr. Travis Bradberry stress and negativity can permanently destroy neurons (Article PDF at bottom of post)!

Think of it this way: if the complainer were smoking, would you
sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke?
You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same
with complainers.

Dr. Travis Bradberry – How negativity and complaining literally rot your brain



The first step is to be able to identify a person you should distance yourself from, here are 7 signs you are dealing with a constant negative person (inspired by this article):

  1. They thrive on worrying beyond the point of it being healthy
  2. They will always tell you what you should be doing with your life / what you should be saying, with or without you asking their opinion
  3. They are pessimists by default, a situation which can drag you down if you don’t address it early on
  4. They will take any criticism to heart on an extreme level, you can never approach a conversation regarding their negativity without it being quite dramatic
  5. They will complain all the time, about everything!
  6. Good news will always be viewed in a negative light – they will feel that they are helping you by warning you, but it is usually unnecessary
  7. They will drain you of your sanity and energy!
  8. They will always believe they are correct, even in the face of evidence that shows otherwise


How to deal

You may be thinking “Hey Tali, talking about all this is pretty negative, so what can I do about it?”. Here are a few tips I have found are good for dealing with negative people without being drawn into their negativity.

Maintain your distance

You need to protect yourself mentally, do this by trying not to take what they are saying to heart. It often comes from a personal fear, as opposed to being something you need to take on board. It can be hard to learn to do this, but once you have learnt to brush it away, you will find that they cannot fester in your mental wellbeing.

Don’t let them control you

Do not let negative people control how you think, or what you do! Yes you should take advice or criticism from people that mean well, unfortunately negative people often do not mean well – in spite of their belief that they do!

Don’t argue

It is in no way worth arguing with a perpetual negative person! This is something that it took me a long time to learn, and definitely had an effect on my emotional wellbeing to the point that I dreaded going to work at a point. Don’t mistakenly think that you are agreeing with them by not arguing, sometimes it is not worth it at all.

Take a break

Give yourself time away from a toxic negative person. Work in a different office space, ensure you take your breaks away from your desk, don’t let yourself talk to them too much at family gatherings. Surround yourself with more positive people (not to be confused with ‘yes-men’) and bask in sensible conversations and mindsets.

Don’t take responsibility

There are some people that just cannot see things from a different point of view, or absolutely refuse to see the positive in a situation. You can try to show them a different perspective, or offer up some positive musings, but if it doesn’t get taken on board it is not your fault. Don’t dwell on it, and do not take responsibility for another person’s refusal to see a balanced world.



You are the master of your own mental health (within reason). I deliberately chose to keep my distance from negative outlook people, as I can quickly be dragged into their cloud of despair due to my own anxiety and depression. So therefore, I no longer allow them into my bubble!
Whilst I am completely understanding that the world cannot be all happiness and rainbows, I made a choice to see the world in a more positive way, which has sincerely helped my mental health!

We often mistakenly see self care as physical things such as baths and smoothies, however out mental health is much more important. Start taking steps to be more deliberate in the people you surround yourself with and you will see your life flourish!

Let me know in the comments the steps you take to keep yourself mentally healthy.

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