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How to deal with people who 'neg' you

 How to deal with people who 'neg' you (Photo: iStock)

As human beings, we all crave validation. It is a fundamental human need that fuels our confidence and self-esteem. But sometimes, the people we trust with this need can chip away at it, often disguised as playful teasing.

This annoying behaviour called negging is surprisingly common, especially within female groups of friends.

Negging involves subtle or sometimes not-so-subtle digs disguised as compliments. It might sound like, “You look great in that dress...for your size. I would never wear that," or “Oh wow you finished that project on time? I am impressed."

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people exposed to negging are more likely to experience self-doubt and decreased self-esteem.

The insidious nature of negging lies in its ability to erode self-confidence over time.

While a single backhanded compliment might seem harmless, a repeated pattern of negging can create a cycle of self-deprecation and insecurity.

Friends who neg you, even unintentionally, can negatively hinder your personal growth and happiness.

So, how do you identify a friend who might be unknowingly negging you?

As aforementioned, backhanded compliments come with a hidden barb, diminishing your achievements or appearance.

While friendly teasing is part of any good friendship, there is a difference between playful banter and jokes that consistently target your insecurities. These so-called jokes are no longer funny.

Others diminish your feelings. Friends with this bad habit may downplay your emotions or dismiss your concerns as “overreacting.”

If you have identified a friend who frequently engages in negging behaviour, it is time to address it. Have a calm and honest conversation with them.

Explain how their comments make you feel and why they are hurtful. Let your friend know what kind of behaviour you won’t tolerate. Be clear that negging is unacceptable and that you expect a more supportive friendship.

If the negging behaviour continues despite your efforts, it might be time to create distance from this friend or cut them off completely. Prioritising your emotional well-being isn’t selfish so don’t feel guilty about your decision to unfriend them.

It is important to surround yourself with people who uplift and empower you. Friends should be cheerleaders, not saboteurs.

Seek friends who celebrate your successes, encourage your dreams and offer genuine compliments without hidden agendas.

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