It’s the million dollar question that we hear all of the time: Can you show me how to handle all of the negative talk that I keep hearing from my negative teammates?
Absolutely, yes we can – There’s two ways that you can handle it.
The first way you can handle it is by finding hundreds of articles on the internet that will give you the advice of “talking” with your negative teammate and letting them know how much their words are bothering you, if you’re into that kind of thing.
You can engage a negative teammate with their little game of gossip and try to rationalize with them. You can let them know that what they’re saying or doing is hurting your feelings. You can give them the satisfaction they want when you try to rationalize with them.
When you have a teammate that talks negatively about others, blames others for their own shortcomings, and brings others down so that they can feel superior, its most likely not going to work. Your attempt at rationalization just allows them to become satisfied because you’re just letting them know that they got to you and inside of your head.
Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. The politically correct way of letting someone know how they’re making you feel in hopes of them changing their behavior is a load of junk. It’s imagining as if they didn’t understand that they’re bringing others around them down with what they say.
You can go ahead and take that avenue. Just don’t expect much of a result.
You’re going to play with negative teammates that love to talk smack throughout your playing career. Its inevitable. You may have to engage with them when they cross the line. You may have to set the record straight when they gossip about you.
If you want to take this approach, here’s how you should handle it. When it’s time to stand up and say something, the best way to do it is to hit them straight on with the truth. Something along the lines of:
“I hear that you think you’re better and can do a better job than me. I’d love to hear what you think about my game and my effort so that I can tighten it up and become a better player. Or, you can just shut up and we can compete for my spot right now. It’s your choice.”
When you make a statement like that, you hit that person right between the eyes with the truth and give them the one choice that all people who run their mouths DON’T want to make:
Put up or shut up.
99 times out of 100, a statement like that shuts a negative teammate up and stops them right in their tracks. It brings to the light that as a teammate, you hear what they’re saying but you don’t care. You’re willing to meet them head on to shut them up because you’re tired of their crap.
Although that’s a great way of handling it, I think that there is another level that you can go to really separate yourself from them:
Ignore them and outperform them.
You leave them in the dust with your work ethic and use their negative talk as fuel to your ambition. It plays out like something along the lines of this:
Yep – I see you over there. While you were over there watching me and talking crap about me, guess what – I’m working.
When you’re telling everyone else in the locker room that you’re better than me, guess what – I’m out getting extra reps and I’m working.
You think that I don’t deserve to be on this team? Well, while you’re sleeping or playing video games, guess what – I’m working on my speed. I’m getting faster. I’m getting smarter. I’m getting STRONGER.
Keep on gossiping and running your mouth. Keep on telling everyone around you that you know everything. Keep on being a ‘Chatty Kathy’, voicing your opinion to bring others around you down so you feel smarter.
Keep on sleeping in. Keep on playing video games. Keep on cruising around town in your car thinking that you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
You keep focusing on what everyone around you is doing wrong – I will keep focusing on working and doing what is right.
As the season goes by and you stay the same, I’ll keep getting better with every repetition. And, at the end of the year, you’ll realize that you have nothing to run your mouth about anymore. That’s because I’m not going to give up. I understand that having success is a process while you believe that things should be handed to you. I believe in delayed gratification and laugh at how you care about petty things.
That’s because you are going to lose. And, I am going to win.
This method applies to anything in life. You want to shut up the haters? Outwork them. You want your negative teammates to cut their negative talk? Call them out and outwork them.
You’re going to deal with negative teammates on every team you play on, and they’re all going to be different because each one of them wants to push their own personal agenda. However, dealing with them doesn’t change – You shut them up by doing two things: calling them out OR ignoring them and outworking them. Or you can use a combination of the two.
Related: How the Power of Positive Thinking Makes You A Better Athlete
Whatever you do when you decide to handle the situation with your negative teammates, let your first step on how you’re going to handle their smack talk be very precise and very direct when you call them out: