13 Ways to Deal With Negative People

Naysayers love to bring people down. Don't let them. These 13 tips will help you deflect negativity on your rise to the top.
Author, Profit First
April 03, 2013

You have a great idea. Yet, the naysayers tell you it will never work. If you let them, naysayers can crush your dreams. It’s their job to attack, harass, offend, annoy and distract you. If you don’t confront them—and make them stop—they’ll keep attacking until you're paralyzed with the fear of failure.

Here are 12 ways to deflect, defend, ditch, distract and deal with those negative-ninnies ... and one killer comeback guaranteed to stop the hardest hitting naysayers out there.

1. Get in the media spotlight.

Something magical happens when your idea is put in print. Seeing your thoughts discussed in the local newspaper, a university journal or even a respected blog may be enough to shut down the most persistent naysayer.

2. Find the right crowd.

One highly effective way to deal with naysayers is to not deal with them at all. Insert yourself into a new crowd that supports your idea or is marching down a similar path. The break from the negativity may be the simplest way to become more positive and gain support for your ideas.

3. Make it a motivator.

Ask the naysayer for permission to prove them wrong. With their approval, put a date to when you will prove them wrong, and wager a dinner. If they are right, you buy. If you are right, they buy.

4. Understand the the fear, envy and jealousy.

Next time a naysayer tells you that you'll never make it, recognize this is their own fear, envy and jealousy telling them that you probably will actually make it. They believe that if you make it, they’ll feel left out, or worse, they’ll feel like a loser. If you recognize this fact, you’ll understand the real reason they say what they say and be motivated to push forward.

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5. Know when to ignore, and when to listen.

Naysayers generally should be ignored, unless one of two things happens. If they are your potential customers, listen very, very carefully to their criticism and keep fixing what you do until they embrace it. Second, if you hear a consistent challenge or theme from a variety of naysayers, they actually may be onto something. If you hear a common concern from many folks, spend time investigating what they are saying to see if they may just know something you don’t.

6. Learn how to predict the weather.

You would think in this day and age that weather forecasters could accurately predict the weather for more than just the next 24 hours. But they can’t. There are literally billions of variables that influence the weather. The same holds true for your ideas: It is impossible to predict how things will go over the upcoming months and years—good or bad. Recognize that you and the weatherman are making weather predictions. The only difference is that you can adjust and change every single moment of every single day, giving you a big advantage in having the outcomes you predict, and the weatherman can’t.

7. Show them the success.

Naysayers can be quieted by showing them your successes so far. Instead of talking about what you have planned (and having them shoot it down), tell them about what you have already achieved on the path you’re traveling. Tangible evidence is impossible to dispute.

8. Flip it.

When a naysayer tells you how bad it's going to turn out, tell them an even worse potential outcome. Tell them the most ridiculous disaster that could ever happen. This puts them on the defensive to explain why it can’t be that bad. Without even realizing it, they’ll effectively start arguing on your behalf. Yeah, that’s right. That’s reverse psychology.

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9. Agree with them.

Listen to the negative things the naysayer is voicing, and agree with them. If they say, “You’ll never be able to afford to own a business,” say, “I can see where you’d think that, but I see something different. I see that I can make it happen.” Don’t argue, just acknowledge their perspective and point out you have your own.

10. Battle it out.

Sometimes it is going to be you versus them. They will try to keep holding you down and you need to fight your way up. It's a battle of the minds, and the battle of the wills. Try saying your own “success mantra” and envision the outcome every day. Even if you don’t believe yourself at times, just keep at it. It may be the only way to win.

11. Persevere.

The naysayers who are squashing your dreams are doing the same to your competitors. Understand that your competitors face the same roadblocks that you do. The one who perseveres wins.

12. Data doesn’t lie.

Maybe the naysayers are your own employees, family or friends. (Unfortunately, they probably are.) It makes it harder to avoid them, so the only way to dispute what they say is with hard, cold facts. Do the research, collect the proof and present it. Even if it doesn’t persuade them to change their minds, it will give you more confidence.

13. If all else fails ...

If you try all those tactics, and they naysayer is still chipping away at your idea, try saying, “Really? Tell me about the time you tried it.” Inevitably they haven’t tried it, so they have no hands-on experience at all. That's when I say, “Are you saying you have no experience with what you are talking about?” After that, they will get off your back.

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