Reacting To Potential Negativity

We all have to deal with the negativity of others from time to time. That’s just how life is; nothing stays perfect for long, if it ever reaches perfect.

Diego Diaz via Compfight

Something I’ve always recognized, yet haven’t handled as well as I wish I had, is that sometimes the negativity I experience is more my perception of what someone else has done rather than their intention. Let me explain by using an example.

I have a friend I went to college with who was also my roommate in senior year. He’s a funny guy and we’ve always had a lot of fun together. However, he also has a mean streak that sometimes irritates me; he rarely used it on me, though it was back in college. He’s not the kind of guy who necessarily sees the best in people; some folks just have to live their lives like that unfortunately, but usually his heart is in the right place.

Every once in awhile he’ll comment on something I put on Facebook, as it’s the only social media thing he cares about. Sometimes the comment is relatively normal. Sometimes it seems, well, spammy, based on what we would consider as spam in blog comments. When he does that I get really irritated, and one day on the phone I asked him why he does that sort of thing. His response; he thinks it’s funny.

Here’s the thing. No matter what he says or how he says it, I’m responsible for my reaction to it. I know the guy, more than 30 years, and I know what he’s like. In person, if he said something I’d just look at him and move on. But online, sometimes I work too hard on protecting my reputation in public spaces when there’s nothing to protect. At least not so much that I need to get upset about it; who agrees with that statement?

It’s in that vein that I decided to do the video below because this past week I’ve been watching a lot of videos on YouTube that weren’t from my normal channels and I’ve been amazed at some of what I’ve seen and how people have reacted to it. Sometimes we really can learn something from young people.

After the video I’d like to know how you respond to negativity of others, both in public and online. I’m working on it and I’m getting better, but I’m not quite there yet; I have 50 years of stuff to work on. 🙂


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34 thoughts on “Reacting To Potential Negativity”

  1. I think it depends on the personality and actual mental status quo; some people can stay quiet and think rational to find a solution and handle them the right way, some people get aggressive and act offensive, which mustn’t be done; and some people just don’t care and walk away from the conflicts without searching for a solution.
    peter recently posted..3D nyomtatott ékszerek fábólMy Profile

      1. I always try to handle them the right way, aggression mustn’t be an answer for an offensive behavior. Leaving ’em alone doesn’t solve the problem, I usually try to solve the problem the analytical way, try to explain why this kind of negativity doesn’t make a sense. But sometimes, honestly, I just don’t give a …

      2. Peter, sometimes you have to stand up for what’s right, no matter what’s going on. There are pacifists who would stand by and let their families and themselves be killed; that’s not me. However, I do judge what’s important enough to take a stand on and what I don’t care as much about, and it helps reduce the negativity factor dramatically.

  2. This is very timely for me as I’m in the midst of an imbroglio of uncalled for blog attacks against me. It stemmed from a situation where a blogger viciously was lashing out against someone associated with me. Thinking that I might be dealing with a reasonable blogger I left a comment at their vituperative blog posting calmly explaining why something had been done only to be met with an angry obscenity laden response from the blogger and then from some of the few followers this blogger has. I tell you these attacks against me were filthy and vile. I let it drop on that end.

    My reaction was to begin a blog series about the topic of profanity in everyday language and in blog posts. Once again as I am prone to do I’ve been approaching the topic analytically and leaving it open with questions for the readers. I continue to be attacked and ridiculed on a handful of basically low influence blogs. A couple of the bloggers did step into my conversation keeping a level of rationality in their speech–I guess they wanted to be heard without me having to delete something inappropriate–then they went to their own blogs to continue their obscene attacks against me.

    Parts 1 & 2 of my series are yet to come so I guess I’ll find out the next reactions to those. I’m trying to keep things at an intellectual level, while leaving an open door to a certain level of friendly terms.

    The good thing is that most of the bloggers in my readership circle probably have no idea what has happened and continues to happen on those other blogs and I’m making no reference to those blogs in my posts. My regular readers undoubtedly see my topics as more of my series in controversial subjects–and they are since I had planned on discussing the subject of profanity on my blog though this is sooner than had been planned on my schedule.

    My situation has become like a blog war. I don’t like it since I’m not that sort of person, but I feel it is something that needs to be addressed. It’s a shame when bloggers get nasty toward each other.

    Sorry for the drawn out story, but you asked. At least I think this goes along with what you asked.

    Arlee Bird recently posted..What Makes You Smile?My Profile

    1. Arlee, sorry you’re having to deal with that sort of thing but it shows the measure of the type of man you are to have gotten into it in the first place. I’ve certainly wandered into those types of situations and I’ve never regretted coming to the aid of a friend, no matter what the consequences are. And I could care less what someone decides to write about me on their blog if it’s negative, but in my own space… well, once again I wouldn’t care as I’d either debate or delete, which I’ve said often here.

      Your comment was exactly the type of thing this post was hoping to illicit, and I believe you did the honorable thing. Thanks for sharing your tale.

  3. Occasionally I’ve been targetted by foolish, mean comments, but never by someone I know. I’ve learnt not to react immediately, but to sleep on my response. If my reply draws a personal, derogatory or obscene response, I delete it and block the commenter. If however, the reply is thoughtful and rational, I keep it. My rationale is that I don’t want my family, friends or clients to see personal attacks which are irrelevant to deepening a conversation. I’m ok with being proved wrong on an issue, but I don’t tolerate personal abuse.

    Like Arlee I sometimes respond in a dedicated blog post, but I always hold off hitting “Post” so I’m not posting in the heat of the moment.
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  4. I simply cut off such persons from my life. I unfriend them on FB if they are there and block their emails too.

    I don’t want any kind of negativity in my life. And I really mean, any kind. You might like to read rummuser dot com/?p=10208

    Having said that the point that you make about face to face communications sort out many misunderstandings that occur due to emails or other forms of internet communications. We cannot however have only the former and that is the problem.
    Rummuser recently posted..A Matter Of Perceptive.My Profile

    1. Rummuser, I do just the opposite. Instead of blocking those people out of my life, I let them stay in it without taking what they say too seriously. This is what really annoys such people, the fact that what they say doesn’t mean a thing to me. I had some people in my life who used to go around speaking against me, I would grab people and try to give them explanations, trying to defend myself. Later on I realized it wasn’t working the way it should. It did not protect my reputation the way I wanted. Staying quiet and ignoring their lame behavior, on the other hand, worked wonders. I would say I have a lot of negativity in my life as it is everywhere, and it cannot be avoided, all I do is not let it affect ME. There’s negativity in my life and will always remain, but there’s not an iota of it inside of ME
      Pitt Goumas recently posted..Common STD Symptoms in WomenMy Profile

    2. That’s true Rummuser. Email has in one way made communications easier and harder at the time time. We can stay in touch with our friends easier but have to find ways of choosing our words better with people we don’t know. In a sense it’s like blogging, because I notice that every once in awhile someone totally misreads what I’ve written because their minds were in a different place than mine at the time. It’s horrible when it happens, especially if someone is offended, but that’s life I suppose.

  5. I think that it doesn’t matter what other people have to say about our content/product or business. As long as we are doing ‘our thing’ it does matter. When I was running my own blog I used to ignore negative or spammy comments in the beginning and then switched to akismet plugin to avoid such a comments. I wish everyone to have strong will and a lot of self-abnegation to overcome bad vibes from other people.
    Craig Allen recently posted..How to check if your web hosting company will be fine for your businessMy Profile

    1. First Craig, or Bruce, you might want to read the comment policy, as I normally don’t a name that’s different than the name in the email; protection against scammers if you will. I’m allowing the comment this time because you used “self-abnegation; I like that. But I won’t allow it again.

      I totally agree with you in this instance though. Renee writes about her life but she does it with the intention of helping others as she talks about her quest for better health. That’s about as selfless as one can be, and to have someone push on her because she’s a nice, open personality type… irks me to no end.

  6. Mitch I had a very similar situation. A guy I’ve known since high school is a very negative person. He can find something negative in ANYTHING. He also likes to play devil’s advocate a lot.

    Every time I’d post something to Facebook he’d have something fairly stupid to say to derail the point of whatever I posted.

    I got fairly annoyed, and after letting him have it one time, I decided I didn’t want to keep on blasting him every time he said something stupid in response to something I posted -which was pretty much every time. So instead I used the list feature and set it to default that he never even sees my posts. Worked like a charm.

    Every once in a while I think about giving him another shot, but then I think better of it.

    In addition to Facebook, we also follow each other on Twitter. I used to have him and all my “real-life” friends in one of my Hootsuite columns, but I removed him from the list because every tweet was something negative and I got tired of reading it.

    He actually asked me once how he could grow his followers and I said I didn’t know (he would have argued with any advice I would have given), but obviously people don’t want a concentrated stream of negativity in their feed every day, so he could probably start there.

    Anyway, these types of people don’t deserve a lot of our thought, so I think it’s best to put them on the back burners and not expend too much energy on them.
    John Garrett recently posted..John Garrett Interviewed on Genesis Science Fiction RadioMy Profile

    1. John, I know what you mean. I’ve reduced my contact with friends like that as well; if they weren’t friends of mine I wouldn’t even try to talk to them, ever. Just as no one wants someone always putting them down, no one wants someone who only has negative things to say about their lives either. I’d hate having to live like that; ugh.

  7. Hi Mitch,

    I have dealt with negative people all my life. My mother and my grandmother are the poster children for being the glass is half empty people. I will say that I can not get through a ten minute conversation with my mom without her being negative about something. It use to really get me down. There is something about turning 40 that changed things for me. A good friend that I met when I moved to the U.K. asked me where did I find the headspace for all the negative people in my life. I thought about it and realized that I did not have it. Now when I talk to someone who is negative, I will normally changed the conversation. I give them 6o seconds to tell me all the bad stuff and then I say okay, that is all the space I have in my body for negativity, let’s move on to the great things that are happening in your life. It really catches people off guard when you say that to them. I am sure that it makes you question how you approach people in the future.

    I have friends that are like your friend who live their lives to find a reason not trust people. I just think that is a hard way to live your life if you can call that living.

    1. Great stuff Cynthia. We all have our moments but when it seems like someone glorifies that lifestyle it’s time to get away. I like how you do it.

  8. This post had some relevance to myself this week Mitch: I too got offended by some behaviour online. As you say, really, on the whole, we should not get so wrapped up in our own little persona and concern ourselves with perceived insults. Though it is a hard thing to do, it’s best to shrug your shoulders and move on to a more positive surrounding.

    1. It really is hard to do Richard, but every once in awhile I have one of those epiphany’s and get my senses back. After all, I don’t doubt that every once in awhile I might do something similar.

  9. I read a post earlier this evening that annoyed me and I was just ready to reply – and my reply would have seemed negative, I’m sure – when I thought: “do I need this hassle? Why do I need to comment on something that’s just annoyed me?” and do you know what I did? I clicked out, away from it. That’s mostly what I do these days. I can’t see the point of upsetting myself and almost certainly upsetting other people in the process, by commenting in that way.

    As for handling other people’s negative comments or negativity in general… online I don’t encounter as much of it as I used to. Possibly because I steer clear of people who are overly negative. I used to be one of those people myself, predominantly negative. At times I still am, but when I am, I keep myself to myself. I’d prefer others do the same, but of course they don’t!

    I get very little negativity in my own blog, but when I first started using the ‘net, I was in a variety of groups and heck there was a lot of hate going on there. It’s one of the reasons I started blogging: I wanted something of my own where I could express myself without always taking things other people said, the wrong way. Because, as you so rightly point out, it’s not entirely what the other person is saying as to how we’re interpreting it ourselves.
    Val recently posted..Eureka!My Profile

    1. Good stuff Val. I have to admit that I get little negative stuff as well, though there have been periods on both Facebook and Twitter where I’ve seen a lot of negative things and had to figure my way in and out of it. Once I stopped watching the news a lot of bad feelings left my shoulders, and modifying what I see and from whom works out pretty well also. Still, those things that do slip through… always working on handling those better.

  10. The best way to avoid these negative people is to leave them alone and sink deep in their depression. This kind of negativity is always caused by some mental disfunction, I simply don’t care about negative people. They are just a PITA. (and I don’t wanna judge)

  11. Mitch,
    I think there is a difference between “negativity” and a “negative comment” I have had people post a negative comment on my blog but I know that it was just in reaction to the post and they felt the total opposite to what I have written. I can accept that because it is done in a respectful manner.

    Negativity is what someone presents no matter what the subject matter is. They always see the glass half empty as Cynthia referred to in her comments. Those people ultimately disappear from my circle either on their own or I take the action.

    1. Bev, I’d agree in the difference between the two, and I hope I didn’t send out that particular type of vibe. There are negative comments where people attack you, call you names, etc; that mess isn’t allowed in any of my spaces but regardless that’s just negative through and through. If you write a post that generates negativity on the topic that’s something totally different.

  12. I personally don’t have much of a problem dealing with negativity, since I was a kid, always been hated for no reason or for very good reason. It very much depends from where and from who this negativity comes from. I don’t mind critics, but when it come from people that are close to me, I take this very deeply. However, I don’t tolerate stupidity for a moment and I’ve never learn how to deal with this.
    Carl recently posted..Search Online For Breaking NewsMy Profile

    1. That’s too bad Carl. I’ve only had one year in my life where I was actually hated, and even there it turned out that not everyone hated me. At least you deal with it well it seems.

      1. I think on our last hangout actually I’ve mentioned that. My style of clothing was business style and not only my classmates used to hate me, but even some teachers. Since I won my poetry award in 9th grade, my English teacher turned completely against me, I was her enemy number one! In my previous jobs, I was widely hated by my managers or by boss, it seems that nobody like bold people that have extensive knowledge about work, bosses usually prefer weasels.
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      2. It’s too bad you went through stuff like that Carl. Actually, I had some people hate me for stuff like that but I never really thought about it as negativity, probably because I didn’t care what any of those people had to say. It’s much worse when it’s people who are supposed to be your friends or that you’re stuck having to be with for a long period of time that can drain you, which I guess fits your work issues.

  13. Hey Mitch,

    Reacting to negativity is something that is inevitable. It’s a part of life and that we have to deal with it. I know a lot of situations that we can sight as an example for this. I guess the very common is within a fast food chain where people always rush into things and that sales ladies or the one’s who serve are being reacted negatively by rushed customers. I sometimes admire these people who works in fast food chains since they can control themselves and they know how to react on things when situations like this comes. It’s all about our patience and understanding on things. But I guess it’s also good to react on negative things sometimes especially when things go out of hand.
    Farrell John Conejos recently posted..HIMYM: Identity Of Ted Mosby’s Wife Finally RevealedMy Profile

    1. Farrell, it always depends on how you react to things and how far you go in doing it. For instance, if you accidentally cut someone off while driving and that person follows you home so they can either yell at you or try to harm you, that’s going over the edge. Or working in an office where someone made a minor mistake and they get yelled at in front of everyone. That’s bad stuff and the reaction is disproportionate to the action. Still, other times drastic action must be taken, and we have to be ready for that as well.

  14. In my earlier days Mitch I would have lashed out at them almost immediately. I can be very rude actually, very short with people and cut them to the knees.

    I’ve learned though over time and who I am as a person that lashing out at the person who may come across as negative is not the way to address this. I have had my own words misinterpreted in the past which has caused riffs between me and friends. I know that when you’re in a bad mood and read something then you tend to take it in a negative way although that’s not the way it was intended.

    So although I certainly don’t claim to be perfect I have come a long way. I try to back off, take my time to think about it before responding. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter though with the other person because we can’t control their thoughts.

    By the way, I have a friend just like your friend that comes across pretty rude to most people but I know him very well and he just has a very warped sense of humor.

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    1. Adrienne, sometimes it’s like we’re the same person. lol Must be the Texas connection. I’ve had to learn a lot about control; sometimes I’m great at it, other times I’m not, but I’m in my good period again so I’m running with it.

  15. Hey Mitch, I think we all are over conscious of our online image. The same thing had happened with me too, but in my case it was actually my friend’s mistake as he wanted to make fun of me in public. I confronted him, and the story unfolded. I think it is always better to clarify things.

    1. Hi Jack,

      First, all emails with “info” at the beginning go to the spam filter, and though I pulled this one out, I don’t often do it; just so you know (it’s in the comment policy above the comment window).

      I think we all should be conscious of our online image; once it gets messed up, it’s hard to recover, and some people never do. I’m very conscious of mine, but at the same time I’ll stand for something and if that’s not liked overall then that’s on me, but I am what I am.

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