* Look for positive intention behind the criticism. Even if these people don't express themselves constructively, sometimes there is a useful element in what they say. For example, they may be pointing out a danger or pitfall of which you were not aware.
* Reinforce their positive statements. It may take a while before you hear anything positive coming from hyper-critical people, but when you do, praise them for it.
* If all else fails, try shocking them out of their attitude by being even more critical. At some point, you'll surpass their negativity and you may find them suddenly saying it's not as bad as all that. Habitually negative people sap their own energy as well as yours, and by dealing with them constructively you'll be helping them as well as yourself.
Jurgen Wolff is a hypnotherapist, teacher and writer. His Create Your Future weekend workshop takes place in London on April 5-6. More information is available from BstormUK@aol.com