Starting a business is one of the most challenging things you can do. And one of the hardest parts is that most people won’t understand why you’re working so hard, especially when you’re not making much money to start.
They also won’t understand why you’re spending so much time away from them.
Some of these people may even resent you for starting a business. They’ll try to drag you down emotionally, tell you your business idea is silly and impossible or even try to sabotage your efforts. You may think that explaining yourself to these people will make things better. But in most cases, explanations won’t help.
The best strategy for dealing with negative people you come up against when starting a business is to avoid them completely.
Research supports this view: A study in the Journal Of Social & Personal Relationships found that ignoring negative people increased the ignorer’s intelligence and productivity. The researchers examined 120 participants who had been asked to either talk with or ignore people who, in turn, had been instructed to either be friendly or offensive to the participants.
After four minutes of interaction, each participant was given a thought exercise that required good concentration. The participants who had ignored the negative people performed better on the thought exercises than those who had engaged with the negative people.
The researchers therefore concluded that avoiding negative people during adverse social interactions conserves mental resources.
Avoiding negative people, then, seems critical to staying smart and productive while starting a business. If you want your startup to be successful, make sure you avoid the following seven toxic people:
1. The person who tells you you have only one choice.
You never have only one choice. When someone gives you an ultimatum and tries to make you choose between only two things — them or your business — take a step back.
Offering a single choice to someone who actually has many choices is known as Hobson’s choice. Thomas Hobson was a stable owner in Cambridge who told his customers they could choose to either take the horse in the stall nearest the door or take none at all. (Of course, those customers also had the option of going somewhere else to get a horse, take more than one horse, steal a horse and so on.)
The “or” was an illusion, however. Realize that “or” is a power play: Youalways have more than two options. The next time someone gives you an “or,” say “no thanks,” you’ll take both. Turn “or” into “and.”
Or, flatly refuse this toxic person and turn your focus back to your business.