Category Archives: negative people

Brownie’s Point

While I was putting myself through college, I worked at a local diner where I met people from all walks of life.  Most people were congenial, except for one customer, an older man, whom the servers dubbed “the grouch.” And grouchy he was.  Plus intolerant, unforgiving, and a terrible tipper, if he tipped at all.  No one wanted to wait on him. He brought many a server to tears with his abrasive attitude and harsh comments.

Well, wouldn’t you know it. He hobbled in one evening and sat in my section. I heard the other servers snickering.  I took a deep breath and sauntered his way with a smile.  I offered him a menu and a hello which he disregarded.

“Gimme the meatloaf special,” he growled.

“Great,” I said.  “What would you like to drink?”

“If I wanted anything to drink, I woulda told you!” he snapped.  All heads in the restaurant turned our way.  His hostility stabbed me.  My first impulse was to launch an attack and conquer this angry, bitter man, but I had to heed our “customer is always right” policy if I wanted to keep my job.  I turned to storm away but stopped and returned to his table.  I could hear one of my co-workers behind the counter, “Don’t do it, Mac, don’t do it.” I stood, mustering up the courage to confront (and defeat) him.

“Why are you still here? Get outta here, and get me my damn food!”

I remained.

And then he looked up at me.  What I “saw” was a scared, sad, lonely, hurting soul.  It arrested me.

This is not about you.  He’s in pain.  The anger I felt lifted, and compassion rushed in to fill the void.  Without thinking, I sat down next to him, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered, “I don’t know you or what you’re going through, but you don’t have to be so mean.  I am not the enemy here.”  With those words, I kissed him on the cheek again, and walked away.

He left me a 100% tip that day.

From then on, Brownie refused to sit in anyone else’s section.  He still gave the other servers a hard time when I wasn’t there, and I’d lecture him about it the next time I saw him, but over time he softened. We grew to become friends over the next year or so, until his passing.

I’ve often thought about Brownie over the years.  I valued his wisdom and knowledge, especially as a struggling college student, trying to find her way in a world that seemed so confrontational and confounding.  Any time an event unfolded unfavorably, it was my habit to take it personally and to take it out on others, just as Brownie did.

I came face-to-face with myself the day I met Brownie.  His lashing out was not about me, yet on a deeper level it was. If I had attacked him, then I would have been attacking myself. I would have perpetuated unkindness.  And I probably would have lost my job.

Rather than approach things with a desire to conquer, I approach them now with curiosity.  Well, I try…I’m still a work in progress. Instead of a compulsion to take things (or people) down, I try the path of quiet exploration, of seeing things from another perspective.  I’m willing to pause and observe, to consider options and possibilities beyond that instinctual desire to attack.

I’d say that’s progress.

Thank you, Brownie.  Your lessons remain with me.

Do You Affect or Do You Infect With Your Energy?

“Energy is contagious: either you affect people or you infect people,” says T. Harv Eker.

Indeed.
There are two kinds of people in the world.
There are those whose energy encourages, uplifts, and strengthens us whenever we are around them. They are the “affectors” because they affect us in positive ways.
And there are those whose energy discourages, downgrades, and weakens us, especially if we are in a vulnerable or unprotected state. These are the “infectors” because their negativity contaminates us if our “immunity” has been compromised.
Personally, I’d rather be around people whose energy leaves me feeling more energized than depleted, but sometimes these “infectors” can be hard to avoid. 
Just the other day I told a family member that I found a pair of Yellow Box flip-flops on sale at a local store for nearly half the original price. Knowing that she is a fan, I wanted to pass the information along to her. She looked at the pair on her feet, then looked at mine, and said, “That store only carries seconds.” 
Puh-leeze…
I shook my head. She just couldn’t help herself with that comment. 
Our shoes were the same brand name, identical, except for the color. 
While I was happy to have found such a deal and willing to share it with her, she couldn’t wait to qualify it with a negative remark. 
But I chose not to let her energy infect me. Instead, I quietly blessed her and moved on.
While dealing with negative people can’t always be avoided, there are some things to understand about them to help you in your dealings with them.
First, they are creatures of habit. Their negativity is part of a pattern, and criticism is part of their character. These are not isolated incidents. Recognize the pattern and realize that you can’t change it. They have to want to change their way of thinking. 
Second, more often than not, they are against things, rather than for them. Do they know what they stand for? Rarely, if at all. But they will certainly tell you what they stand against. 
Third, they can’t give compliments. What starts out as a compliment is always followed by a qualifier. For example, “I enjoyed dinner, but…” That qualifier negates whatever positivity was intended. 
Fourth, they lack passion. They aren’t accomplishing much in life. They don’t have a vision for the future. There’s no attempt at or no room for personal improvement. Trying to involve them in activities is met with criticism, defiance, and in some cases, anger. Since they are against so much, few people want to be around them or work with them.
Fifth, they gossip about and criticize others. If they talk about others in front of you, chances are they are talking about you to others behind your back. 
Sixth, they are master complainers. Sadly, nothing is ever good enough for them because they will always find fault. On the road of life, they focus on the potholes instead of the beauty and excitement of the adventure. 
Seventh, they bring the past into the present. They refuse to let bygones be bygones by continually rehashing incidents that have happened. Forgiveness is not their forte, unfortunately.
Try this little “test.” The next time someone’s name shows up on an email, text message, or caller ID, note your immediate emotional reaction. If the person is someone who energizes you, you will be happy to respond to that person, but if that person’s name makes you wince or curse upon seeing it, that’s an indication of the negative influence this person has in your life. 
We’re not always going to be able to avoid dealing with negative people, but we don’t have to let them infect our lives. When we have an understanding of their actions, then we are more equipped when we do deal with them.
In my next post, I’ll examine what we can do to handle negative people in our lives.
In the meantime, what are some of the ways in which you deal with such a person? Please share in the comment section below.