Notes from the Editor: Oh, Those Negative Nellies!

By Karyn L. Beach

It would be great if we could wave a magic wand and get those critical, complaining, never-satisfied Negative Nellies stranded on their own island (a la Lost ). Sometimes it’s easy to get rid of that negative influence – especially if they are an acquaintance or a not-so-close friend, but what do you do when you are related to the Negative Nellie or when the Nellie is a co-worker on your team? That’s a little trickier.

Here are some tips for handling the Nellie:

Maintain an Assured Safe Distance : When you are driving, it’s best not to get too close to the car in front of you, if they stop suddenly, you might hit them. Staying a safe distance behind gives you a buffer, in case the driver does something unexpected. Do the same with the Nellie. When you have to be around them fine, but when you don’t, don’t seek out their company.

What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You : Keep that Nellie on a strict need-to-know basis. If they don’t need to know it, don’t share it. This is especially true for those who are going to be super-critical, nosey or gossipy. Also, keep the friends and acquaintances of the Nellie on a need-to-know basis, as well, since they are usually the ones keeping the Nellie up-to-date on all your activities.

 Keep Your Enemies Far Away : Sun-tzu, the ancient Chinese general said “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Maybe that is true in military terms but in real life, that’s just silly. If you can’t trust them, keep them far away. Don’t make it easy for the Nellie to stab you in the back or get ammunition to use against you.

Become a Teflon Don : This one takes some doing, but when the Nellie starts in on you – criticizing you or bringing up past mistakes and old hurts, learn to let it slide right off of you. If you are going to see them, rehearse what you will say and do when they start to bait you. Have a friend or family member on standby that you can turn to for support.

Drink Heavily : Just joking.

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