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Negative Nancy: What Makes One, 18 Traits & Ways to Deal with their Attitude

Negative people can bring down even the most positive person. Read on to find out if you have a Negative Nancy in your life and how you can deal with them.

negative nancy

Everyone knows at least one Negative Nancy in their lives, someone who can make any good news seem like an apocalyptic proclamation. [Read: How to deal with negative people & stop them sapping your energy]

You know the type. They could be a friend or relative or co-worker who, no matter what sunshine you happen to bring into the world, can seem to tear it down in five seconds flat.

While an interaction with a Negative Nancy may leave with you a host of stories to retell at parties *because of how ridiculous this person is*, they’re also the most emotionally exhausting people you will encounter.

Since life is full of unexpected circumstances, the odds that you will end up stuck at a social gathering with one of these life leeches is high. For this reason, you’re going to need to learn how to deal with them in an orderly fashion.

Here’s the low-down on a typical Negative Nancy, what they do, and how to deal with them. [Read: What is an energy vampire? 19 signs to spot them in your life ASAP]

What makes a Negative Nancy?

We’re sure you’ve built a picture in your mind about what a Negative Nancy looks like, but you really need to know the ins and outs of a Negative Nancy. When you do, you can better defend yourself against one.

So, what are the common traits of a Negative Nancy?

1. Inability to be happy even when their life is seemingly perfect

We’ve all known someone like this. While it seems they have everything, they somehow find something to complain about.

It’s almost like they like complaining, and they find joy in finding all the areas of their life where they’re lacking.

2. Constant worries

“Did I turn the oven off?”, “Is the front door unlocked?”, and “What if I left my keys on the side?” You can’t go anywhere with this person without hearing a whole checklist of totally benign worries.

Before you can do anything with them, you have to reassure them about the traffic, the weather, parking, and the number of nearby toilets! [Read: Signs of anxiety – how to read the signs ASAP & handle them better]

Now, there’s a difference between a Negative Nancy and someone who actually struggles with anxiety. As you’ll see, a Negative Nancy revels in the theatrics of being a downer.

3. Stuck in their comfort zone

You’ve given up even asking this person to try something new because you know that before the words even leave your mouth you’ll be met with a resounding “no.”

They already complain about everything they do, so things that they’re not used to or familiar with are immediately labeled as “bad.” [Read: Powerful steps to break out of your comfort zone]

4. They enjoy having secrets

See, here are the theatrics coming up again. Negative Nancys can be quite secretive about their own lives, but as we’ll talk about next, they love to gossip about other people’s lives.

Maybe it’s because they’re so judgmental about other people that they keep their own cards close to their chest to avoid receiving the same judgment. If only they knew that they’re always the most judgmental person in the room.

5. They love revealing bad news and dirty gossip

Negative Nancys don’t just hyper-focus on the negativity in their own life, but they also pay a lot of attention to the negativity in other people’s lives. So, when they’re done complaining about all the things in their life that suck, they’ll move on to gossiping about other people’s shortcomings.

Gossip can be fun, but when it comes from a Negative Nancy, it’s just outright draining.

6. Bored with life

How can someone be uncomfortable with leaving their comfort zone while simultaneously complaining about being bored with life? Well, you can trust a Negative Nancy to find a way. [Read: 15 reasons why you should travel at least once a year]

7. Eternal pessimists

This person refuses to admit that the glass is half full. In fact, they will die on the “glass is half empty” hill.

8. Overly sensitive

A Negative Nancy already thinks that their life is the worst, so can you imagine how they react when something actually goes wrong?

If you already know a Negative Nancy, then you know all about the ensuing dramatics. [Read: Why am I so sensitive? How to stop being sensitive & grow thick skin]

9. Constant complaining

We’ve already covered this at length, but Negative Nancys also complain at length, so this seems fitting.

10. Most of their sentences contain the word, “But… ” in them

A Negative Nancy can’t always complain, no matter how hard they try. But when they have to acknowledge that something is good, they somehow find a way to spin it into a negative.

They can do this with their own news, or they could do it with yours. If you tell them that, for example, you’re pregnant, they’ll butt in to tell you how pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and child-raising are actually the worst experiences you could ever go through.

11. They can talk for hours about themselves or other negative topics without once asking how you’re doing

AKA… They’re selfish. Negative Nancys tend to be so wrapped up in their own negative thoughts that they don’t really think about other people. [Read: Selfish people – 20 ways to spot and stop them from hurting you]

Why a Negative Nancy is bad for your soul

A Negative Nancy is generally considered someone who is excessively pessimistic – not exactly thrilling company for a night out. In fact, being around someone like this too often can drain your own energy and bring you down to their level.

But being a Negative Nancy doesn’t just affect someone’s attitude or the people around them, it can even affect them physically. One study performed by Carnegie Mellon University revealed that patients sick with the flu or common cold who maintained a positive attitude actually produced less mucus than those who were a Negative Nancy.

What does this mean? Put simply, negativity can ruin your life both emotionally and physically.

That’s why if you have a Negative Nancy in your life, you should either deal with it or walk away. Sticking through it isn’t going to do you any good. [Read: Toxic relationship – what it is, 107 signs, causes & types of love that hurts you]

What to do about a Negative Nancy

Don’t let negative thinking ruin your enthusiasm. You’re an awesome person with good thoughts that shouldn’t be drowned out by someone with a negative life view. Here are some things you can do about that Negative Nancy in your life.

1. Recognize their negative attitude

Before you figure out how to deal with a Negative Nancy, you need to first identify their specific negative traits. Are they constantly down on themselves, hyper-critical of other people, and constantly bringing the mood down with tales of war or climate change?

If you pinpoint their negative attitudes, then you can plan ahead to avoid facing the brunt of them. [Read: How to be more positive – 24 steps to a happy & dramatic life shift]

2. Don’t participate in their negativity

Instead, reinforce positivity in your conversations.

Negativity is contagious. It’s easy to get caught up in a Negative Nancy’s drama and forget that you have a happy life and a great outlook. Instead of agreeing with what negative point your company is making, try putting a positive spin on the situation!

This may seem tiring after a while, but don’t give up. Not only might your great attitude help cheer up the person in question, but it’ll also show them that you don’t accept their negativity.

Be especially on guard against gossip. Negative Nancy will gossip about anyone, especially if it’s bad news. They will shamelessly talk about marriage infidelities, serious illness, and job losses without the blink of an eye.

When they start gossiping about other people, shut it down immediately. Instead, bring up an entirely different, more positive topic.

2. Hang out in groups

Negative people are much easier to deal with when you have a buffer around. Only schedule coffee, hangouts, or movie night when there are other friends joining you. This will lighten the load of making conversation and bearing the negativity.

3. Try and be a positive influence

“Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” – Alphonse Karr.

This is an excellent quote to keep in mind when you’re stuck chatting with a Negative Nancy. Just because they can’t see the good in life doesn’t mean you can’t.

Dealing with negative people can be extremely frustrating and emotionally draining. But remember that you’re not the only person this Negative Nancy is being hard on. They are also being hard on themselves.

Offer plenty of praise for their good qualities and empathize with their problems – even if you’ve heard them a million times. [Read: How to ignore someone who mentally stresses you]

4. Don’t take things personally

Negative Nancys don’t mean to insult every facet of your life. Or hey, maybe they do! They feel fine insulting you, your beliefs, your way of life, and your mate. They get jealous on occasion and might lash out. This is all a part of the game, their calling card.

If this person insults you, try not to take it personally. They can’t help it, they’re a Negative Nancy. [Read: Simple ways to calmly deal with difficult people]

Try to ignore nasty comments. This might help them to see that you don’t take crap from anybody and that his or her comments roll right off your back.

5. It’s not always your problem

If you have a Negative Nancy in your life, you may feel compelled to cheer them up. We’re here to tell you that while this is a noble gesture, it is also very likely an impossible task. Negative attitudes are hard to break.

Spread your positive attitude around like sunshine, but don’t overextend yourself to the point that you come away from every interaction with this person with a migraine. Sometimes, it’s best to cut your losses and understand that you need to put yourself first. [Read: Ways to instantly recognize fake people and stay away]

6. Confront them

Not with anger or frustration. If you reach a boiling point and then start snapping at them, they likely won’t listen. [Read: How to confront someone when you loathe uncomfortable interaction]

Instead, approach them calmly but firmly, and make sure you have examples of their negative attitude at hand to really lock in your argument.

It’s unlikely that a Negative Nancy will take constructive criticism well, or at all, but you also have to prioritize your needs. It might do you good to finally vent your feelings and frustrations.

7. Avoid Negative Nancy like the plague

Or alternatively, be done with it. If you’ve tried your best over a long period of time and still can’t seem to shake your friend’s negative attitude, it might be time to reassess your friendship.

What are you getting out of this relationship? True friends give and take, and if your “friend” is all take and no give, it may be time to avoid them like the plague. Or at least limit the time you spend with this person.

Instead of dinner and a movie, try grabbing a quick cup of coffee instead. Pull away slowly and eventually you will have successfully cut off contact without them staging a meltdown.

This may sound cruel, but if you’ve tried your best and still walk away feeling down, this is simply not the friendship for you. You should surround yourself with people who build you up and encourage you, not those who take your friendship for granted and tear you down.

[Read: How to let go of a relationship – 17 things to do unhurt]

If you have a Negative Nancy in your life who could rival The Grinch for the world’s biggest grump, it might be time to kick them to the curb! Your life is too awesome to be filled up by someone else’s negativity.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...