February 7, 2017
How Do You Deal With Negative People?
Posted by: Nancy Skee
Wasn’t really sure about this blog today since February is all chocolates and flowers and love, and this isn’t really any of that. But maybe it can fit under the Conversation Hearts categeory since I did, in fact, have a conversation with somebody. So here's the thing.
Have you ever had a friend who seemed to be a nice person, but whom you could like only in small doses because there was always something about when you were together that got your nose all out of joint? Yeah, me too.
And then you wouldn't see your friend for a while and sort of forget about the incident and gave it another shot because maybe you were being too critical? Me, too! (Why were you even friends anyway? Habit? Proximity? Who knows?)
Here’s how my 8th grade drama unfolded in my AARP world as the two of us met for a beverage.
Me: Hey, how are you doing? Good to see you!
Friend: You must have something going on at the Inn again because you’re late. You can never get out of there on time. That business really drags you down.
Me: No, that’s the business I love. And all my friends know that if I have to pick up a phone call before I leave, I ‘ll do that. That’s not a new thing. But what’s going on with you?
Friend: Not too much. Work is crazy as usual. But enough about that. Let's hear some good news. Do you have any fun things planned at the Inn?
Me: Yeah, actually, we’re doing some cooking demonstrations and I want to open a popcorn shop downtown.
Friend: Popcorn shop?! You already work so hard right now and do such a wonderful job with all of your guests! You're fantastic! You don’t need to take on something else because you really deserve a rest - you looked a lot better last time I saw you. Popcorn?! When do you think this is going to happen?
(Ha! Notice those mixed messages!!? Some people have a very nice way of serving chocolate with garbage.)
Me: I don’t know yet. Whenever it presents itself the right way.
Friend: That’s just a bad idea. Who’s going to buy popcorn?! You’re not young anymore and it's too much work for someone your age. You should relax a little and enjoy your life. You’ll wish you’d never done it.
What I was really wishing was that I wouldn’t have to spend another minute with this person. Have you noticed how people’s genuine kindnesses and generosities can act as a cover for their meanness? You meet up with them never knowing for sure whether you’re going to get kissed or kicked, but are always taken aback when the kick comes.
Even so, sometimes it takes a while to recognize negative people, because you just tolerate things that are mildly annoying, kind of like flies at a picnic. Or you might be like me and tend to extend the benefit of the doubt; the nice parts of a person can let you make excuses for the nasty parts. Still, you do reach a point where you know you don't want to listen to anybody’s subtly degrading comments no matter how well they were disguised. You get sick of brushing away flies.
Before we finished our Margaritas I was clear that I didn’t need a toxic friendship any longer. That decision and the Margarita made the rest of the shortened evening go better.
So here’s what I’m saying to you, and maybe this is a Valentine message after all. You need to love your life enough to get rid of people who are pulling you down, even if you’ve known them forever. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be rude to them or gossip about them. It means you’re going to walk away from their negativity.
We’ve talked about this before: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. It makes sense that you want to surround yourself with people you love and people who support you. Do something nice for yourself and drop the nasty people, because after all, they'll let you know you're not getting any younger haha.
Let me know how it all turns out!