How To Deal With Negative Responses

When They Are From People Who Close To You

July 18, 2015

“Avoid negative people”. A life long tip that can be found in many self-guidance books, which is absolutely true. But what if it’s in your family or close friends that you cannot easily “get away from”?

I hate to label people as negative especially for those who are very close to me. But as close as they are, inevitably I would be involved into the negative conversations which is so painful for me. After all these years I still haven’t found any good ways to either improve the conversation or more directly help the person.

So if you’re looking for answers to the question, you might get disappointed but I’ll try my best to note down all the findings and hope that could give you a hint.

Definition of Negative Response

First and foremost, I’ll keep using the term “negative response” instead of “negative person” in the rest of the post.


Biggest characteristic of a negative response is, refuse to believe there’s hope. That’s my explanation from my experience.

No matter what I say, we just can’t get out of the negative crazy circle. He/she could list 10 different ways why that won’t work, there seems no way to be done to either solve or escape from some the issues. After those conversations I would unavoidably carry those negative feelings around me, draining for the whole day or days, surely that’s contagious. Here I’m really trying to list all the rational things I’ve found to remind myself how to help them and myself to get over it.

1. Don’t Try To Change It Forcefully And Ruthlessly

It takes years of experience or significant pain to shape it to the current state. There’s no point of saying “please stop thinking that way because that’s wrong that’s too negative”, it’s not about right or wrong, no one wants to be negative.

No matter wether the thinking is positive or negative, it’s developed under years of constant experiences or events, each time it reinforces itself, builds into the brain deeper and deeper, finally that becomes the belief.

It may sound negative to you but they may not be conscious of it, they’re simply expressing their feelings. So don’t try to give a quick-fix unless they explicitly ask for, just be there and hear them out.

Worst scenario would be arguing about it and trying to “sell” your perspective. That won’t change their staunch views no matter how reasonable your point is. It took me years to realize it and still in the process of practicing.

2. Don’t fear of denial

Believe me or not I actually got hurt quite often from a negative response, I’m sensitive when it comes to this. “Everything will be fine”, “It’s gonna be ok”, some of the things I tend to say when trying to offer a mite of comfort. Then a sudden and firm denial “No, you don’t know that”, “No, how can you be sure”, or just a single “No” would hit me down.

I felt like it was me being denied, a serious conflict between the person I care about… Heh, that’s how we react when we’re upset, desperate and discouraged. That’s totally normal so don’t overreact, the “no” has nothing to do with you and is surely not personal.

I’m still stupidly repeating the same thing: “Everything will be fine”, it’s OK if they don’t buy it, all I need is to make sure they hear it.

3. Don’t overthink

You may feel overwhelming after the conversation, but first you must get it, it just means you’re a human being with the ability to feel empathy. That’s a good trait so don’t be too hard on yourself.

However as a side effect, it also affects your emotional feelings. So please don’t overthink about it, so many things in life are out of your control, do your part right, then time and patience could solve the rest.

But I Still Want To Help

The least thing you could do is to make them feel better.

And at times even that’s hard to accomplish. You’ve got to admit that ultimately it relies on the person to deal with the problem, not you. Just like I can’t fix my dad’s health issue, I can’t give enough money to help my friends get over whatever seemingly financial issues(I tried), I can’t make their bosses to make them promoted. That’s not how it works.

Instead what you can is to stay positive and try your best to make them feel better, lots of times the solutions are already inside them.

My dad likes electronic and recent years he’s so into lithium battery. He owns a small store on the web and is kinda generating tiny amounts of money. Every time I call him, I’d ask about his “business”, and give him the chance to talk about it even though I understand nothing about the details of a lithium battery. But that makes him feel a bit better, and that’s all I want.

At last, I would like to send one of my favorite quotes to the people who are suffering significantly and believing in nothing.

Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.


Qihuan Piao

Qihuan Piao

Qihuan Piao(aka kinopyo) is Chinese based in Tokyo, Japan. Fulltime fullstack software writer using Rails. He shares coding tips, personal failures and random success in this blog. His infamous line - "I feel calm when I kill those monsters, or people (in game)" shocks his friends deeply.