Have you ever come home from work or a social event and just felt so exhausted? And not because your meeting was held in a trampoline park or another active place, but simply because of who you were dealing with? We’ve all had those types of interactions in our lives, whereas almost as soon as we walk away, if not before, we feel completely and utterly drained of all our energy. This is the cost of dealing with emotional vampires, those people who seem to suck your very life force. Knowing how to avoid negative people is one of the top survival tricks of the 21st century.
While, of course, in an ideal world, such scenarios wouldn’t happen, it’s most unfortunately almost a fact of life, that at some time or another you’ll engage with those who don’t take such a shiny outlook on life and try to bring you to their level.
To avoid getting dragged down on the negativity wave, you need to learn how to navigate yourself out of the web of toxic people. Here we’ll help you discover the “types” that are out there and how to best stay away from negativity for your own sanity.
5 types of negative people
Learning how to eliminate negative people isn’t as simple as deciding someone has said or done something awful, hating them for it and proceeding to cut off contact for the foreseeable future, if not forever.
Conversely, this is an unhealthy pattern that could leave you feeling extremely isolated in the long run, because, let’s face it, everyone has a bad day now and again.
Instead, you need to employ a range of emotional intelligence techniques (EI) such as self-awareness and awareness of others to evaluate the health of your relationships. To help you get started, we’ll take a look at some of the most common types of toxic people:
1. The “it’s all about me” person
Negativity doesn’t always mean talking bad or saying something not so great; instead, it can be the opposite. We’ve all met that one person who likes to make themselves the center of everything. They’re egotistical and feed on your kindness, which is precisely what allows them to continue to keep doing what they’re doing. The “all about me” is one of life’s natural bullies, who will always find a way to rationalize exactly why they are right. Agree with their point of view and all is well, but once you present a converse opinion, then things will turn nasty.
2. Mr. or Mrs. Woe-is-me
Something is always wrong is Mr./Mrs. Woe-Is-Me’s life – the teller at the bank short-changed them, that guy intentionally took the spot they were parking in, that colleague at work stole their promotion. Sound familiar? This type of negative person is the constant victim; something always seems to go wrong for them (not for anyone else, just them) and they are never to blame for their own misfortune. For them, mistakes don’t just happen, and maybe the world is out to get them.
3. The critic
“I believe this piece could use more color!” No! This type is not some art critic making creative suggestions to help improve your work. Instead, this is a much darker monster altogether. The critic criticizes everything, from your work to your clothes to your favorite mug. Often their able to do so in a way that doesn’t seem that offensive outwardly, but over time these little comments can really eat away at your self-esteem. Watch out for “I just like to say…” phrases; this type isn’t looking to raise you up, just tear you down.
4. The “News-maker”
First to hear when anything is going on – big or small – and, boy, will they let you know it. The news-maker, also known as the gossiper, loves spreading tales; the more awful, the better. Unfortunately, the news-maker is not always known to stick to those journalistic principles, and you may find untrue rumors spreading like wildfire or stories exaggerated to the point of unbelievability. For them, any news is news, good or bad, so, be careful to avoid being next on the agenda.
5. Master manipulator
Forget freedom; this is a dictatorship over your feelings. The master manipulator is a tricky character who may not directly try to dilute your mood but instead seeks to control how you feel and what you do. They always seem to have an opinion on everything you do – even if it’s not at the office. And frequently seek to provide you with “advice,” which they will get upset over if you don’t follow.
Not all negative people will fit solidly into any one of these categories, you may find there is someone who just makes you feel uneasy or down. In this case, look out for the following factors in abundance:
- Constant lying, even when there is no “gain” from it.
- Extreme clinginess or overtly dependent, beyond the norm.
- Unpleasant jittery energy that keeps you on your toes, and not in a good way.
- Actual abuse, physical, emotional, or sexual. For those who find themselves victim to negative influences, this might not immediately be obvious and, of course, doesn’t occur in all circumstances. But in extreme cases negativity can mean abuse.
Why do you need to avoid negative people?
While it’s pretty clear that these aren’t the best people to be around, sometimes we believe we are tough (we are!) and that we can take it (we can’t). After a while being around an emotional vampire will not only drain you but start to affect other parts of your life too.
There are some pretty compelling reasons to stay away from negativity. During extended exposure to stress from negativity, your body may become more prone to heart disease, especially if the stress is making you lash out. In addition, you may also find yourself getting tired more often and more likely to suffer immune system issues, such as getting sick often.
Negativity begets negativity, once you’ve been trodden down for too long, too often your brain is likely to keep going to that bad place, and you may find your own thoughts changing, even when you’re not around the “bad” influence.
Tips for how to avoid toxic people
You’ll never be 100% free from negative influences, and even those people we find toxic are still human. However, to limit the effect to you, these are our top tips to follow to deal with toxic people and have more positive interactions:
1. You are only responsible for yourself
Worried about what everyone else is doing? Even if you mean to help, by concentrating your energy on solving the world’s problems, you might be neglecting your own. We don’t mean that you shouldn’t care for others; instead, limit your responsibility over them. The only person that you can account for is you.
2. You don’t always have to agree
Even if you fear the wrath of disagreement, saying yes to the negative person allows them to continue to treat you and others in the way they have been. Sometimes it’s worthwhile sticking to your guns and saying “no!” when you feel strongly about something. Besides, having your own opinion means you won’t get dragged into things you didn’t agree to.
3. Take note of your own mental health
We’re all too prone to say, “we’re fine” and that “everything’s ok,” that we often don’t stop to think how we’re really doing. If you’re dealing with negative influences day in, day out, it’s likely this is taking a toll on your mental health. So, it’s time for a check in – do you find yourself more tired and sleeping more than usual? Sleepless and restless at night? Worried and jittery? Or overly concerned about someone’s opinion unnecessarily? That could mean it’s high time you took a step back.
4. Don’t apologize for something you didn’t do
This comes back to responsibility; if you’re friends with a negative person, you may find yourself apologizing for their actions when they’ve left the room – don’t. Let’s repeat it – you are only responsible for yourself. That person is accountable for their own actions.
A self-help guide to building positive relationships
Now that you know the what-not-to-dos, here’s how you can protect yourself and boost your anti-toxic barrier:
- Be honest with yourself – if something is getting you down, allow yourself to accept that it is happening…and do something about it.
- Realize you can’t “fix” it – you are not broken, there is nothing you need to repair. Repeat, you are not responsible.
- Surround yourself with positive people – it’s true what they say, there is strength in numbers, and the more positivity that surrounds you, the more you will feel.
- Exercise and a healthy diet – what?! How could this affect my interactions? Well, actually a strong body makes for a healthy mind, meaning you’re less likely to experience the strains so intensely.
- Learn to navigate out of stressful situations – knowing you have the coping tools at hand, means you won’t feel as bad when faced with a challenging person.
- Put yourself first, but don’t be selfish – realize that you are important and valued, and that you need to attend to your needs. But, at the same time, don’t forget about others.