In my opinion the people you surround yourself with and how you deal with them have a big influence on your life and development. I classify people into three categories, positive, neutral and negative.

Neutral People

These are the type of people you can chat and have good conversations with. They generally don’t offer much of an opinion on stuff will often be underwhelmingly supportive of your ideas and ambitions. In terms of the effect they have on your motivation and development I would put them at a minimum. You may have some desire to be able to relate progress to them but they do not hold enough influence to become a motivating factor for you.

Negative People

These are the people that whatever you mention to them they will have a negative opinion. They will offer comments like ‘what are you trying this time?’ ‘You always quit these things.’ They will be the one tempting you when you’re trying to stay off drinking, smoking or treats. They usually thrive on keeping you down at their level and meet your triumphs with jealousy and belittlement. These are the people that will always try to stop you reaching new heights and discourage you. This is because they are too weak and scared to accomplish anything that’s difficult and the only way they can stay at your level is by holding you back and bringing you down. They will only have conversations with you in which they talk about themselves and will expect you to be there to hear their problems, (which will be many as they see everything as a negative) and when you have a problem their only motivation for hearing it is to secretly enjoy that someone else has issues. They will offer little help and support to you.

 If you believe that we all have an energy then they are the ones who suck out your energy rather than give you any. A conversation with them about anything will have you coming out of it more negative, unhappy and demotivated than when you started.

Positive people

These are the people that are nearly always smiling. Will give you a big greeting and will fill you with positive energy from the moment you meet up. They will be excited to hear of your ambitions and achievements. The will want to give you positive feedback and advice and encourage you. They will still have their own issues and will relate them to you, but not overly burden you with guilt or negative emotions. They will put a positive spin on nearly everything and you every contact you have with these people will leave you happier and more motivated.

Filtering out the negative

If you can identify people in your life in these areas, then you can think about how much of your energy you devote to each group. You’re very lucky if most of your circle is in the positive category and this would normally happen to someone who is equally positive. However, if you find that most of your circle are negative or maybe one negative person is taking a lot of your energy then you need to manage this. It may seem selfish but it really isn’t. Those negative people are bringing you down and holding you back. This in turn will affect your behaviour towards others in your circle making you more negative and spiralling out and out. We’ve all seen in in the companies we’ve worked for or organisations/teams we’ve been part of. One negative person starts complaining and spends all the time bitching and moaning and talking about what’s wrong with the organisation and it becomes an epidemic. Almost like a fog that wraps around everyone and before you know it everyone is sharing these negative views. The misery spiral!

I personally always try my hardest to turn the conversation to something positive when dealing with such people. I give them my support and truly listen to them but I don’t linger in conversation. I don’t think it really helps, I’m happy to talk through solutions or give my opinion but I don’t want to be absorbed into the negativity. Of course, if it’s an actual serious problem like an illness or death in the family then I going to give absolute support. What I’m talking about here is people turning every life event into an episode of EastEnders.

If you can’t filter these people out of your life, then you need to learn to deflect their negativity. Maintain a positive stance and keep the conversation light, flipping the subject matter when they start on their moaning pathways. I also make a point not to discuss much of my goals, ambitions or achievements with these people. It only ever results in discouragement, jealousy and disappointment. Save that sharing for the positive people in your life.

Find the positive people in your life and spend as much time as possible with them, filter out as much negativity as you can and most importantly be that positive person to everyone else. In the same way negativity spreads so does a positive attitude. A smile is contagious, try to live life with one.

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