Negativity Always Wins. Here’s How To Change That.
Motivational speaking legend Les Brown speaks about a study conducted at M.I.T (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology). The study concluded that every time a person directs a negative statement toward you, it takes 17 positive statements just to neutralise the initial negative statement!
Think about that – one negative statement vs 17 positive statements, and then the impact on the individual becomes equal.
Please think back at a time when people complimented you and you were ecstatic. Then, just one person directed a negative remark or statement toward you. How did you feel after being on the receiving end of the negative remark?
Did it override all the compliments that you received earlier?
Were you consumed by the negative remark?
Did you feel like the negative remark was more impactful than all the compliments that you received earlier?
If the answers to the above mentioned questions is a “Yes”, then rest assured, you are not alone. Most people feel that way.
Today, I will give you four keys to being proactive when negative remarks override compliments. Here they are:
- Remind yourself that it is only someone’s opinion – everyone has an opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Most people believe that they have a right to freedom of speech. The message that I am driving home is that someone else’s opinion is not necessarily a reflection of your reality. You can choose to do whatever you feel necessary with that person’s opinion. When I was a kid, I heard a proverb – “A barking dog will not stop a moving carriage.” What that translates to is that if a carriage is moving and a dog is running after it while barking, the carriage will not stop because that dog is barking. Now, I love dogs, and always will. The point is – why let someone else’s behaviour (that you have no control over) stop you from being at your best? They are just projecting their opinion (which you don’t have to own).
- Ask yourself “Do I respect and value this person?” – let me share an example with you. I used to work for a major financial services organisation in the central business district of my home city, Melbourne (Australia). One morning, as I was walking to work from the nearest train station, a drunk man (who had obviously been consuming alcohol for a long period) approached me. This was at around 7:00 am. He grabbed my left arm and said “Excuse me mate. Your suit jacket looks crap”. Then he let go of my arm, and walked off. A few people on the street stopped, looked at me, and were most likely expecting a reaction from me. I replied “Good morning to you too sir”, and walked away. The people watching this unfold started laughing. About an hour later, a colleague and I went back on that street to buy some fruits. Guess what? We witnessed the police speaking to that man, and he was in hand cuffs. I looked at my friend, told him what had transpired earlier, and we both laughed.
- Learn to respond, not react – if you have been reading my articles, you will know that I am a massive advocate of learning about responding intellectually, instead of reacting emotionally. As an anti-bullying campaigner, I suggest an exercise to kids who are being bullied at school. Please do this exercise the next time someone is pushing your buttons or getting under your skin, and you are about to react negatively. Take a deep breath, in through your nose. Exhale out of your mouth, and pretend that there is a drinking straw in your mouth so that you exhale air in a straight line. Repeat this process. After exhaling the second time, smile for three seconds. This short exercise will be calming, and should allow you to maintain your composure. When we react emotionally, we might say/do things that will lead to foreseeable guilt and shame.
- Learn to disown other people’s behaviour – recently, a very close friend of mine was discussing an issue that he was having with a colleague of his. This colleague was always very critical of everyone in her workplace, including my friend. She only knew how to criticise, not praise. My friend said that although he knew that he should take her remarks like a grain of salt, it sometimes impacted on him negatively. We both agreed that she may have internal issues that she needs to deal with, and that is beyond our control. What is within my friend’s control is this – he can disown her behaviour. Just because she chooses to be so critical and nasty toward others, my friend cannot control that. He later emphatically told her that her criticism is not impacting on him because he is not her behaviour. From that point, she stopped being critical to him. Sometimes critical people just want a reaction. Refuse to take part in that game.
Now, I am not asking you to become imperturbable. I personally do not know anyone who is. What I am suggesting is that you learn to productively deal with other people’s negativity, and take control of your emotions and thoughts.
In an article in Psychology Today, Dr Raj Raghunathan says “The most tenable option for dealing with negative people – in a nutshell, this option involves three elements: compassion for the negative person, taking responsibility for your own happiness despite the other person’s negativity, and maturity in how you interact with the negative person..”
Quote: “The difference between ordinary people and extraordinary people is simple. Extraordinary people choose to listen to their positivity more than they listen to other people’s negativity.” Ron Prasad
I sincerely hope that you have gained a simple insight into how you can productively deal with negative remarks and not let them overpower your emotions and thoughts.
Influencing you to your excellence,