How To Deal With Negative People
by Catherine Pratt
To continue on from my article on "How To Deal With Negative People", I thought it might be helpful if we went through an example of dealing with a very particular type of negative person and use it as a case study.
That way I can break it down for you and show you some of the necessary steps of how to deal with this specific type of negative person.
So, let’s start with the situation that someone has been caught doing something wrong and you call him on it. His reaction is to try to blame you or make it seem like you’re the one who’s done something wrong. This is someone I’m sure you’ve come across before and been completely frustrated by how he behaves. If you're not careful, it can escalate to become an extremely painful situation for you.
Let's say you've discovered that someone is taking credit for your hard work. He may not specifically say he actually did the work but he definitely doesn't mention your name at all. It most likely feels like a deliberate attempt to mislead people.
Your first reaction may be one of anger as you went to a lot of effort and someone is basically stealing your hard work. It's important to give the other person the benefit of the doubt just in case it's a misunderstanding. You also need to be able to allow him to correct the mistake in a positive way.
So, you could simply ask the person to kindly provide proper reference to the author of the work if it's a written document or if it's actual work just ask that it be mentioned that it was your project. Keep it simple. Keep it light and upbeat. Try to leave out any charged emotions.
Important Note: When you're dealing with someone who takes credit for someone else's work, you could be dealing with an insecure person or a blamer. If you've never dealt with him before, you won't know until you've asked a few questions. You may already know from having had previous confrontations with him though that the reaction is usually vicious. Dealing with a blamer is different than dealing with your typical insecure person.
In the best case scenario, the person will respond with something like, "Yes, you're right. Let me fix that right now. Thanks for pointing that out." Or he might give you an explanation of what happened which clears up the issue in your mind as well.
In this case, you know you're dealing with someone who is confident within himself and is not only able to take responsibility for his actions, he will do everything in his power to make it right. These are the people you respect and feel good dealing with.
Unfortunately, these people are not in the majority. Most likely you'll be dealing with a negative person. For this example, let's say you've had the misfortune to run into the extremely negative personality type of the "Blamer". As you'll see, the response is completely different.
Negative Person - "The Blamer"
Next, let's deal with how the specific negative person "the Blamer" is going to respond to you. You've asked a simple question, and a sure sign that you're dealing with a blamer is that his response will be intensely angry, very defensive, and possibly vengeful. He'll say you're wrong, or he may accuse you of trying to take credit for someone else's work. He takes the crime you've accused him of and says you're the one who actually did the crime.
Wow, what a switch. You think you're standing up for your rights and this person suddenly turns the table on you and claims that you're really the one in the wrong.
Often, the other nasty thing you'll suddenly discover is if the blamer gets the opportunity, he'll quickly drag some of his friends into the fray to agree that the accusations against him are completely ridiculous. You're left feeling like you suddenly been attacked by a gang.
Step Back For Analysis
So, let’s take a step back and take a quick look at what just happened. He responded with intense anger and he also accused you of the crime you'd initially claimed he'd done.
He's projecting his wrongdoing on to you. His reaction is a reflection of him, not you.
This is a person who cannot stand the thought of being seen as wrong so he'll try to deflect the conversation back at you or try to make it seem like the whole issue is your fault. His angry reaction comes from fear. He knows that he's been caught and he's now afraid. So, to try and prove that he's done nothing wrong, he responds with anger.
His reaction is a great clue as to the personality type you’re now dealing with.
At first when someone does this, you might be distracted by the hurtful accusations. His whole plan is for you to start defending yourself and to get caught up in a new topic so that everyone forgets about his initial actions. Don’t fall for it.
Another one of your reactions might also be shock that other people are also attacking you as well. Don't let it get to you. It's just another defense tactic he's using. He calls in friends to stick up for him. It's to be expected. This is also how he convinces himself that he's actually the wronged person.
Now, that you have a pretty good idea that you are dealing with the extreme negative personality of a blamer, you also now know that he’ll never back down and admit that he was wrong. It’s just not going to happen. So, if you’re hoping for an apology, it’s not worth expending your energy for it.
Your goal should now be to extract yourself from this negative person as soon as possible. This person will sap your energy as he'll continue to hurl one untrue accusation after another at you. So, if you respond, you’ll just end up feeling more and more drained. He wants you to get angry and lose your temper so you look bad and he can look like an innocent victim. Again, don’t fall for this trap.
The one other manipulation technique he's using is he's hoping that you automatically respond like you might have when you were a kid. Remember when you got in trouble as a kid and you were made to feel really bad about upsetting someone else? Weren't you told to forget about your needs and apologize to the other person for making him upset? So, in this case, he may be hoping that you instantly react by apologizing to him and dropping the whole issue. He knows you don't like conflict and will find it difficult to handle.
The key though is that he's desperately trying to change the topic of conversation away from his original wrongdoing. He's going to use any number of different techniques in order to achieve this goal.
A Possible Response
Due to the angry reaction you received, it's best not to respond with your own negative energy. Try to think of an option which will allow him to back down from his defensive stance and give him a way to end the situation quickly and with his dignity intact. So, basically, don't make him admit that he's wrong even though he is.
As this person is on the defensive, he expects you to attack over the new accusations so it's important to try and not express any negative emotion towards him. (I know you feel like it but it's not the best way to handle this type of negative person.)
One option is to respond by saying that there must have been a misunderstanding then. He thought one thing and you thought the other. No worries. You'll be glad to call a truce and end this amicably. He can add your name to the document, and everything will be fine.
Most times, you'll find that the blamer does take your offer and ends the issue. You've made your point that it was your work he was claiming as his own. That's the important thing to remember. His lies were just a bluff to cover his crime so take it as a sign that he knows he did wrong, not that he actually believes what he accused you of. That was just a smokescreen.
Often with a blamer like this, you'll find that he's in such a hurry to blame you that he tends to make statements that are glaringly untrue. Easily his claims can be seen to be completely false by anyone who actually has any knowledge of the situation. Your first reaction might be to point this out to him in order to prove that you're really right but it's not worth it. Doing this will most likely cause the situation to escalate to even higher levels of negativity and also diverts attention from the real issue (his taking credit for your work) and moves it on to defending yourself which you don't want.
Don't be too worried about his accusations. Most times you can be confident that everyone else easily sees through this person's lies. He's really just trying to confuse the issue in as many ways as possible and to blame someone else.
His Next Response
Best case scenario will be that he takes your offer of a way out.
Sometimes, you'll find that he will but that he'll also choose to attack just a little bit more as his way of accepting the offer.
Typically, this personality type will try once more to deflect attention from the fact that he’s been caught in yet more lies by stating even more outlandish crimes that he saya you've committed. This is something else that is so easily demonstrated to be false that it will feel almost laughable except it's meant to be cruel.
The new accusations are meant to take the focus away from his initial actions but also the second and probably third lie he’s now been caught in.
The other tactic this type of person will use is to talk about how he's such a positive person or such a good person and that you’re treating him very unjustly. He'll talk very righteously about how he's right and you’re wrong. Again, this is meant to make it seem like he's just an innocent victim and that you're being mean to him so expect this to also be included in his response.
This is just another technique he uses to try and push your buttons and make you feel bad that you’ve hurt his feelings. He's also hoping to gain sympathy from anyone else who may be listening to this exchange you're having with him. All very much designed to take attention from his original wrongdoing.
It's important to be aware of this tactic and not to get caught up in his words. It's not really personal against you. It's a tactic to prove he's blameless.
One other thing to realize is that this type of person will want to have the last word. If he does that, then in his mind he's protected his fragile ego. So, let him have it. It just means he's out of your life faster and the more he continues talking, the more he makes himself look bad.
Bottom Line With Dealing With This Particular Type of Negative Person
It’s very frustrating and sometimes extremely upsetting dealing with a blamer. The only response you’ll get out of him is that he’ll blame you or someone else for the entire issue. He'll be unable to take responsibility for any of his actions in the affair.
It makes sense when you understand that he's incapable of seeing himself as having done something wrong so he projects his wrongdoings on to others. He's also very sensitive to criticism and can't deal with the thought that he's being blamed for something.
Hopefully you'll find in the person’s last response some shred of evidence that he realizes on some level that what he did was wrong. Perhaps, he might say something like, "I'll be more careful in the future". This is the closest you're going to get to him admitting he’s wrong.
So, the best thing to do once you get to this stage is to just remove yourself completely from the situation. If you continue to press for more or point out his latest lies, he'll come back and attack you some more. The situation just continues to escalate and ends up being ugly for all involved. That’s how he operates. You'll never win in the sense that he won't ever admit that he was wrong and you’ll just end up feeling terribly frustrated and angry.
So, have faith in yourself and believe in yourself. You've handled this situation in a positive way by not sinking to his level and by not playing his games. If you remain calm during the entire exchange, you also won't regret any of your words.
You may be asking, "But if I don't get him to apologize or admit that he was telling lies about me, isn't that letting him walk all over me?" And, the answer is No. Most people will respond with anger and brute force when a situation like this happens and will try everything they can to get someone to admit that they're wrong. It really just makes the situation much worse with the particular type of negative person. You don't need someone to say that they were wrong to know that you're in the right. There is an incredible calmness and self assuredness about someone who doesn't need to press the issue and make people feel bad about themselves in order to justify their own actions. Think of some of the truly great inspirational people like Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, or even the Dalai Lama. They don't force their opinion on others. They just do what's right and let their actions speak far louder than their words. Also, remember that your happiness isn't dependent on this person behaving in a certain way or this situation ending with a specific outcome. Your happiness comes from a deep inner awareness of knowing who you are and living by your own high standards of conduct.
Key Things To Remember With This Type of Negative Person
A key thing to remember in situations like this is that you can’t take his accusations personally. Realize that the blamer is using whatever he can think of that will be hurtful to you to distract you from the real issue, his wrongdoing. It’s not really personal against you. It’s just a defense mechanism to try and manipulate the situation. So, be sure to remain calm and detached from the negative energy of this person.
Also, remember you cannot change this person. He won’t suddenly grow up and be mature enough to take responsibility for his actions.
The good news is that you now know exactly what type of person you’re dealing with. If you can, eliminate him completely from your life. He'll just drain you as he's not mature enough to have a healthy relationship with other people.
If you can’t and you have to work with him, try to keep your contact with him to a minimum. Also, remember to not take his accusations personally and don't sink to his level by calling him names or accusing him of other wrong doings. He's trying to get you to react in order to make you look bad.
You may end the situation still feeling extremely angry that he's said lies about you. Let it go. Everyone who is mature will see the truth and that’s the important thing. His words have no meaning and he's definitely not worth your wasting your thoughts and energy on. By remaining professional during the entire incident shows far more about your character than by forcing the issue trying to get him to retract his statements. Trust me, the people you do want to impress (the ones who are at a maturity level beyond kindergarten) will see through the entire incident and think less of the negative person not you. You did nothing wrong, and they can easily see that.
There's one more thing you should probably be ready to deal with as well. Remember the negative person's friends who jumped in to his defense? Well, once you've had your final say and so has the negative person, they may feel the need to jump in with their final parting shots as well. They may still be very caught up in believing the lies of the blamer. They may also be insecure and be feeling a sense of power from being in a gang-like situation. They may try once more to divert the attention by accusing you of some other crime or try once more to get you to lose your temper so that you look bad. They want the situation to continue, or at least they want to be seen as having won.
Luckily, this doesn't happen often but I find the best course of action is to simply ignore them. These people aren't really part of the conversation and they have nothing worthwhile to say. In some rare cases, you may find that these comments set off an even worse gang mentality and a whole bunch of people (including the original person) jumps in to start bullying you and attacking you again in any way they can. It makes them feel more powerful by putting someone else down. If this happens, the best course of action may be to go one level above them. So, discuss the issue with your manager or if it's happening online, talk to the person who's responsible for the web site. You've handled everything in a mature and professional way and the person you talk to will most likely instantly shut them down. The issue will now be resolved and you'll be so relieved that these negative people are now gone from your life.
Then just smile and remain detached from them. You now know where the negativity is coming from and that it's a reflection on them, not you. This makes it far easier to deal with these people when you realize it’s just their lack of maturity that makes them act this way. You need to be the mature one and take the high road with them.
Feeling Bad Over The Experience
You may still be struggling with feelings that you've upset someone and you hate feeling like someone is mad at you. Your temptation may be to apologize to him and try to smooth everything over. I can totally understand feeling like this. I always want to be the "peace keeper" as well and I don't like there to be tension between people. But, remember, you did nothing wrong. You did not react angrily to him, you didn't accuse him of vicious lies. You simply made your point and handled the situation in as positive manner as you could. That's all you can do.
You may realize later that you could have handled the situation better, but that's knowledge you've gained for the next time. Something really important to remember is that with this particular type of negative person, no matter how nice you were to him at the beginning, he will always attack you in response. That's just the way blamers are. Blamers count on this so that less people will challenge them when they do wrong. But that doesn't mean that you can allow them to walk all over you. Sometimes, you have to take a little of the heat to stand up for your own rights. You should be proud of yourself.
Even if you apologized to the person, he will most likely still stay mad at you and say that you've committed a terrible crime against him. Crazy, I know, when the reality is that he was the one that stole your work. You just have to accept that these negative people exist and you can only do so much to deal with them.
If you leave it the way you have, most likely you'll find that he won't steal your work again. He may stand his ground with his bluff that he's the victim but it's pretty obvious to everyone around that it's just a cover on his part.
You can also be consoled with the knowledge that people really do learn who produces quality work and who doesn't. He might have claimed your work this one time but he definitely won't be able to reproduce something else of similar quality. Someone who steals someone's else work just isn't capable of it. That's why he stole your stuff in the first place. So, as you continue to produce high quality work, you'll always be miles ahead of the person who has to steal to make himself look better than he really is.
These people are too toxic for you to waste any more time on. Instead focus on the positive people in your life. The negative people are just temporary annoyances in your life. The positive people are the important ones, and the more you focus on that, the more you'll bring positive experiences into your life.
Additional Help for Dealing With a Blamer
This is an excerpt from my book, "Blamers". If you'd like to read even more valuable information on how to deal with this particular type of negative person, you can get your copy by clicking the buttons below. Up until now, you've probably blamed yourself and thought that if you were just smarter, or better, or just something, you would be able to get along with this negative person. It's not you. It's how they view the world. It's very different from how you view the world. Reading this book will make so many things in your life suddenly make sense. 80 pages. format: pdf file
View Table of Contents
Always To Blame, Always My Fault - This is another case study of a blamer. Reading this might help confirm if the negative person you're dealing with is truly a blamer. Read more...
What To Do When A Blamer Makes Negative Comments About Others - A blamer will often make negative comments about other people to you which can make you feel anxious, awkward, and even guilty. Tips on how to deal with this situation.
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