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How To Deal With Negative People

December 2, 2014

Oh wow! It looks like some very small people here in the Salt Lake Comedy scene took an unflattering still from a video, wrote some bogus statement pretending it’s my words…and posted it to all the comedians they could in a private message. LOL… I’m so glad that you feel the need to be so hateful. That I bug you THAT much by my existence.

And if you’re in the scene here, and aren’t standing up for what’s right…then I am deeply sorry I ever met you.

I have a friend who is very active in the Salt Lake City comedy scene. I normally use pseudonyms, but CiCi is a public figure. Last week she posted the above on her facebook status.

It got me thinking about how we deal with negative people. In the words of the Arbinger Institute (Anatomy Of Peace), I put them in a box. The teaching of the Arbinger folks is that boxes are bad. Typically we see people as

An obstacle
Someone to be used

The point of the Arbinger teaching is to not put people in boxes. It’s excellent training and advice. But, when you are dealing with someone who is simply trying to bring you down, the box is the best place for them.

The negative person might be a coworker, a boss, or a client. If they are an obstacle, you have two choices, remove their power, or remove yourself. I have a friend who realized after getting a professor position that the department dean hated Mormons. There was nothing my friend was able to do. The opposition wasn’t overt, but he knew that he would never get promoted, or get a good review. He

Sometimes we simply need to move. My friend moved.

Other times, you can take away the power the negative person has. For example, I once had a coworker who actively stole my ideas and passed them off as his own. I loved my job at Microsoft so I opted to remove his ability to negatively impact me. We were writing courseware. He was the Program manager responsible for the curriculum map. I was responsible for the creating the content. I simply created my own curriculum map. It was a great map. Good enough that it became the basis for a three year development project. Since I had created the map, it had all the elements that I needed. I didn’t have to worry about my coworker withholding information or playing silly office politics games.

Someone to be used

This might sound odd. How are you going to use a negative person for your own purposes? Look back at CiCi’s comment above. She took the criticism and made it her own. She promoted her facebook post pretty heavily. Many of her friends, like me, hadn’t heard about the criticism. By owning the negative comments, she literally turned a negative into a positive.


The final option is to just ignore the negative person. If they have no power over you and if their negativity isn’t affecting your life or career, why give them the satisfaction?

Several years ago a country music group called the Dixie Chicks made some negative comments about the president. One of the country music artists that took exception to it was Toby Keith. It turned into quite a fight, the tabloids loved it. It culminated when Natalie Raines, the lead singer of the Dixie Chicks walked on stage at an awards show with a t-shirt that said FUTK.

That night Toby Keith won entertainer of the year. He realized that the opinion of the Dixie Chicks didn’t really matter to him. He quit the feud. The Dixie Chicks are out of country music and Toby Keith is a big a star as ever.

Sometimes, just ignore them. I have a note that a friend wrote me nearly 20 years ago. I pull it out and read when I’m feeling brought down by people or circumstances.


It’s started to fade a little, but it says,

Keep your eyes on the horizon. . .The rest is just temporary traffic.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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