You may have heard the phrase “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. The friends, family, mentors and colleagues that shape your life, challenge your limits and encourage you.  The one thing I wish for all working parents is that you have this network around you to support your career and life aspirations. To offer a supportive ear if things get tough and shout about your successes as loudly as if they were their own.

But what if the people around you are doing more harm than good? If they are generally negative about your ideas, desires and the world in general. It can be tough. The very people that should be your cheerleaders, bring you down. Make you doubt yourself and present a version of the world that is unappealing and scary.

Manage those negative people in your lifeHowever driven you may be about your career or business idea – it can be hard to move forward when the people that are around are you critical and negative.

In an ideal world we would just remove these influences from our lives, but often this is just not practical. I want to share with you three steps to help you manage those negative people in your life.


What do they mean by their comment? Challenge them and ask them to explain by asking “What do you mean by that” or “What is your take on what I am doing”?

By asking for more information about their critique, you many uncover a grain in truth in what they are saying, a misunderstanding or simply, that they are talking rubbish!

Sometimes the truth is the hardest to hear – it may be constructive criticism. What can you learn from what they are saying?

Wear their shoes

Not literally, although, it takes all sorts! This is about you trying to understand their motivations – what is perceived as negatively can come from a place of love. By unpicking their values or belief systems, you may see why they are responding this way.

By questioning them (in point one) you are finding out more about more about their comments; their explanation for their criticism will uncover how they view the world. Maybe you are looking to make a big change in your life that will alter your income; the person who is being negative sees that as a great risk and they attach a lot of value to a high salary.  More often than not, they are it projecting their values onto you– it is all about them and not about you.

Often, questioning to get clarity on an idea can “land” as negativity, when, the person is actually interested and wants to understand your work, idea, or perspective a bit better.

Does it matter?

Does it their opinion actually matter? Sometimes you are never going agree, as your definition of success and failure is different to theirs. Will their opinion – and that is all it, is an opinion, going to stop or get in the way of what you want to?

If that person is integral to your career or business plans, then hopefully, the first two points have given you some context and perspective on their feedback; you can choose to use that information to either learn or to show them how they are wrong!


If your questioning has found no truth in what they are saying, their values and belief systems don’t make sense to you and, actually, they won’t stand in the way of what you want to, let it go.

Ultimately there is no point carrying around other people’s baggage, don’t let them sit in your head too long. Far too many people do that and stop moving forward in their career or business.

If you would like to join a group of like-minded working parents, then join my Facebook Group “The Balance Collective.with Clara Wilcox”.

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