Encounters with negative people can be emotionally draining and stressful regardless of the kinds of forums in which negative encounters take place.
The phenomenon of people having difficulty dealing with negative people or comments on-line is on the rise.
It is becoming especially troubling for those people who are generally already classified as vulnerable, open to abuse or misunderstanding, yet who are regardless still striving to interact within a variety of social groups, forums and friends (Facebook friends and groups) on-line.
For people with Asperger’s Syndrome being deliberately baited or put down by others on-line can be debilitating.
Often the consequences of being the victim of negative on-line communications can leave those who are already vulnerable, socially isolated or are already struggling to legitimately understand social interactions, tangled in a web of words that erodes their already fragile ability to trust and understand others.
For those who are vulnerable on-line, developing an understanding of how to deal with negative people can be an essential key to their continued ability to reach out to others without feeling either belittled or betrayed by thoughtlessness or off-putting comments.
In order to develop better strategies for identifying negative people on-line and discerning when it’s time to block, unfriend and walk away, a basic understanding of human behavior is required.
In many instances, negative people will find something wrong with any comment, question or statement you post.
These people are expert complainers, cynics and on-line tyrants.
As such you may find that even the most innocent post can become fair game for those who wish to belittle you.
Their negative response does not mean that you have written or said anything wrong, rather instead it is a reflection of the fact that negative people simply want to spread their negativity as fast as they can.
In order to understand why some people seem to behave so negatively it is appropriate to take a quick look at some basic forms of NT human behavior.
Basic NT Human Behavior.
Everything NT’s do and say in their lives is shaped by their particular life experience.
NT’s learn from a very early age that certain behaviors produce certain results.
For example, if they are hungry and they cry, someone will give them food.
If they throw a tantrum, someone will pay attention to them and ask what is wrong.
If they throw a big enough tantrum, people will leave them alone.
These learned behaviors stay with them throughout their lives.
At this point I think it’s really important to state that people who are not neuro-typical (NT) do not learn life’s lessons in the same ways that NT’s do and so therefore do not expect nor seek the same responses from their actions, as their actions are being derived from a completely different place.
How the lines of confusion arise
As adults we are all, regardless of neurological wiring, expected to repress our feelings of discomfort (or stress) and behave in a more civilized manner when communicating with others.
Many of us are trying to do just this.
However, expressing ourselves in a more socially acceptable way takes advanced communication skills, and sometimes people with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism haven’t developed those advanced skills as fully or as manipulatively as NT’s have.
Consequently, this leaves those of us who are non neuro-typical open to attacks or experiences of invalidation when participating in on-line forums or groups.
This is especially true for those of us who are still learning social cues and the norms of social interactions.
It is therefore little wonder that many of us may have difficulties in discerning which negative comments are meant to be deliberately invalidating and which comments may simply be another persons open and honest statement of disagreement.
The inability to discern these differences often exposes us to further attacks.
So what can you do when faced with someone whose comments are consistently negative yet you’re not sure why?
Chances are, when faced with negative comments from others you may find yourself reacting in one of the following ways:
1. Simply withdrawing from the on-line conversation.
2. Depending on whether or not you believe yourself to be in the right, standing your ground (even to the point where you may risk inadvertently offending others). In which case, 9 times out of 10 you are probably being baited, which means the commenter is deliberately trying to upset you so that you will respond to them.
Whilst these responses may at times be valid, discerning what the intentions of the commenter may be and therefore when to apply each response, and with what degree of ferocity to do so, remains a key problem.
Strategies for Dealing with the Comments of Negative People
A more successful outcome for those whose first response to a negative comment is to either withdraw from the conversation completely, or jump in boots and all, may be to ask the negative commenter exactly what they mean by their comment.
If they are willing to further refine their perspective it may make it more obvious whether or not their words were aimed at causing offense or were simply too clumsily put together for literally minded people to be able to accurately understand them.
Responding in this way allows 4 key things to happen.
It enables you to remain within the conversation, discussion or forum without feeling the immediate need to either withdraw or defend your position.
It provides you with the ability to question the commenter thus putting the onus to defend the comment back on them.
It allows the commenter the opportunity to either rephrase or explain the meaning of their comment more fully.
Finally it enables others who may not have initially found the comment to be negative or offensive to re-evaluate both the comment and the person making it.
Either way, by questioning the commenter, you have neither left the conversation or felt forced to defend your own response without first having the benefit of further clarification.
In this way developing an awareness of how you most commonly deal with negative people and comments may help you better deal with them.
In many instances maintaining an awareness of your own behavior can enable you to choose to act in a manner that may prevent an encounter with a negative person from escalating.
Making the choice not to communicate in an unproductive way removes the likelihood that you will be replaying the conversation in your head for days or thinking of all the zingers you wish you’d said!
For any Aspie that’s a bonus.