How to Minimize the Damage of a Negative Person

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Negative people are a reality of any ministry or church. How do you deal with them?

So I’m an optimist.

When I first started in leadership, I thought every person had potential.

If someone was negative, I thought they were just one step away from seeing the light and becoming positive.

As a few negative people came along, I decided to try to work alongside them. I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt, even letting them lead, each time thinking they would eventually become more positive.

For the first few years of my leadership, I let negative people have too much influence for too long, completely out of the conviction I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. 

Let’s just say I learned the hard way it doesn’t always work out that way. Some people are just negative people.

While I cared (and still care) about them as people, I began to realize the stakes are too high to give negative people a significant role in our community.

A good friend of mine says negativity is contagious. I agree. If you don’t deal with negativity head on, it can infect and impact your entire organization, not to mention the fact that it will discourage and possibly defeat you personally.

So what do you do? So far this week on the blog we’ve outlined a simple filter that can help you process negative feedback, and shared seven signs that can help you identify negative people.

Now to wrap it up, let’s answer this question:

How do you minimize the impact of a negative person?

Here’s what I’ve learned to do once I’ve identified someone as a negative person:

1. Learn what you can, but don’t dwell on their remarks.

If you approach situations with humility, you can learn from anyone every time.

Find the nugget of truth in whatever they are saying about you or your organization, make the changes you need to make and emotionally and organizationally move on.

2. Don’t allow them into leadership.

There is a world of difference between having a variety of different opinions around a leadership table and having a negative person around the leadership table. A negative person sucks the energy out of a room and out of good leaders.

Carey Nieuwhof Carey Nieuwhof is Lead Pastor of Connexus Church north of Toronto, Canada, blogs at and is host of The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast available for free on iTunes.

More from Carey Nieuwhof or visit Carey at

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  • Pablo

    Now the BIG QUESTION might be is how does a negative person learn to be positive? Especially if they grew up in a household or environment where everyone was negative.

  • Aaron Helman

    Sometimes it’s really important to “protect” other people from those negative people, especially a new leader in a new role.

  • Pastor WP

    I made the mistake of letting the spouse of a negative person lead in the church. The NP worked to influence and spread dissension through his wife and i am still cleaning up the mess from that one. Be observant of the whole family and avoid opening up any channels of influence, you may regret it later as I do. The wife was a talented person and very nice and kind, however she was also co-dependent and was easily manipulated by her husband to create conflict.


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