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How To Deal With Negative People from “Broadcasting Happiness” Author Michelle Gielan

Sometimes, “staying positive” isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds.

Written by Mackenzie Belcastro

This most common form of stress is ongoing—the long list of unchecked boxes on your to-do list. It’s not the most intense, nor is it the most traumatic. But it can quickly become chronic. And chronic stressors, however petite they may seem in isolation, add up. Chronic stressors make it hard to stay positive.

Here’s the bad news: even if you get your own difficulties under control and learn to find the silver lining on those bleak days, you still have another barrier to contend with in your mission for happiness: other people. Unless you live in a bubble, you have to engage with others. And while socializing may be an uplifting part of our days most of the time, the truth is, it can just as easily bring us down.

That all being said, there is good news here. That is, you’re never stuck, unless you allow yourself to be. There’s always something you can do to help the situations you find yourself in. So if you’ve found yourself around a group of nay-sayers, here are some nuggets of tactical wisdom from positive psychology pro and author of Broadcasting Happiness, Michelle Gielan.

Set Boundaries

Recognizing the moments in which you can set boundaries with negative people you’re forced to
deal with allows you to eliminate your exposure to them. For those negative people you have to be around more regularly, figure out how you’re going to interact with them in a way that can create a positive experience. The two-minute drill I advocate for in Broadcasting Happiness keeps the exposure limited. So, for instance, if you need information from a negative person at work, go to their office. Now, without sitting down or closing the door, say something nice. Then, ask for the information you need, get it, and then get out.

Be The Change You Want To See

Be optimistic and positive with others, because, whether you’re aware of it or not, you are
influential. You may not be able to quantify the change in those around you, or see how their
brains are shifting, but the more repeated you are about your own positive broadcast, the greater
your impact. Here’s an example: The University of California Riverside conducted a study where for two minutes they put three strangers inside a room in silence. They tested their moods before and after. Guess what they found?

The person who was most non-verbally expressive influenced the mood of the other two people. So, if they had their arms crossed and seemed stressed, they actually then made the other two people more negative. Whereas, a relaxed and smiling individual positively influenced the other two people. In just two minutes, and in silence. Imagine what we could do when we have extended exposure to people. We actually do influence them, but we just don’t see this as clearly as we might hope.