Would you consider yourself a negative or a positive person? Do you look for the wrong or the right in situations? Does your positive or negative personality depend on the situation you are handed? All people carry the ability to be positive and/or negative.

How dangerous is a negative person? Can their presence affect other people around them? Can their presence influence the positive that is happening? Given enough time and space can they beat a positive person down? You bet they can! Give a negative person enough time and space and they can take the most positive of people and turn their world upside down.

I find negative people to be an interesting study. They were not born that way; it is a learned behavior. If you can accept the fact that all behavior has an agenda, it opens your eyes to what they are trying to achieve. Negative people control the environments they are in by the negative behaviors they bring. Each behavior is designed to create confusion. They use that confusion to keep leadership frustrated. You see — frustrated leadership doesn’t have the energy to deal with them. In most situations tired leadership notices the behavior and then just shakes their head and looks the other direction. All that does is validates the behavior of the negative person. In this scenario the negative person assumes the role of leader and the leader becomes a participant in their plan.

If any environment is to improve, leadership must step up and challenge the behavior of the negative people. They must raise the standards and not back down. They must create an environment that rewards positive behavior and confronts the negative actions with strong statements of presence.

How do you establish and control the environment with positive presence?

Presence of the leader must be consistent!

This is critical. Don’t ever forget that negative people will constantly test the environment. Any time leadership raises the expectation, negative people will challenge the design to see how far they can push leadership. If they find any weakness in the behavior of leadership toward the expectation, they will attack with full force.

This is why it is so important that leadership be consistent in what they say and do. If you can’t hold people accountable, don’t make the statement of expectation. Each time you break your own rule you lose creditability with the other people.

Offer praise, not criticism!

I know this one may sound strange, but again understand what the negative person is looking for. They want you to criticize; they know that criticism comes from your frustrations. When you are frustrated, you react. Your reactions play right into the hands of the negative person.

Turn the table on them. Find something they are doing right, express praise and then talk about the concerns you have. By looking for something they have done right, it will slow you down and in you slowing down, you will have more clarity to bring to the situation.

Stay focused on the lesson!

In every situation there is a lesson. The lesson presents you with a teaching point. When you are teaching, you are moving forward in a positive direction.

Again, when you are learning, you will slow down and bring even more clarity to the event. That negative person who is trying to suck you into their chaos will not know what to do.

Insist on them understanding what is happening!

Negative people like to play dumb. Now, God didn’t create any dumb people, but negative people have mastered the art of playing dumb. They will use their lack of understanding as the reason things went wrong. The strong leader will make sure they understand all lessons that are being taught. The idea is to have them repeat back to you what they have heard. In doing so they can’t come back to you and say I didn’t understand or I didn’t know that. Take away their behavior of playing dumb and your life becomes so much easier.

Take their negative behavior seriously!

Don’t play with these people’s behavior. Negative people are some of the smartest people you will ever meet. They have mastered the art of manipulation. They are experts at finding the loopholes and using them to their advantage.

These people are serious about creating confusion and chaos and you must be just as serious about making sure they don’t steal the positive energy from the environment.

Don’t play games with these people. I promise you — you can’t win!

Invest in your positive people!

Have you noticed the negative people tend to get more attention than the positive people? How many times does leadership not have time for those who are their strength, because they are busy fighting the fires created by the negative people? It is unfair to neglect your positive people in order to fight the fires created by the negative people. What message are you sending to your positive people?

By the way — consider this! These negative people know that if you neglect your positive people long enough, they will leave. This is a major part of their agenda that they work very hard to achieve. Each time you lose a quality person you strengthen the presence of the negative people.

Validate the growth mission!

I am a firm believer that each time the leader stands in front of their people they should reestablish the vision of the company. They should refocus their people on the positive mission the company is on. Each time the leader does this they strengthen those who are striving to create growth and remind the negative people where the company is headed.

Expect people to step up and if they don’t, let them go their own way!

Get over your fear of losing people. This is one of the major ways negative people hold leadership hostage. They know most leaders don’t like to recruit; they know most leaders will tolerate things they shouldn’t in order to not have to search for new people.

You have to overcome your fear of confronting their behavior. Until you are willing to step forward with a strong committed presence, you will have given up your role as leader and actually become the problem.

Remember, the presence of all people is consistent with the design leadership has created for the environment.