You are starting to feel your energy fizzle, as your mood drifts to a dark place. You try your best to stay positive, but ultimately, you end up feeling completely drained and even depressed. You’ve just encountered another negative person that has managed to suck all of the life out of you, with their whining and complaining.
You try your best to be supportive by agreeing with them or even getting annoyed on their behalf. This just seems to get them even more fired up and takes them through the dark cycle of repeating the same stories and the same complaints that you’ve heard many times before. Moods are contagious and you must be proactive to protect yourself from letting negative people bring you down. In order to avoid getting infected by pessimism, you must use clever conversational strategies to redirect their attention away from the source of their negativity.
Here are 7 clever ways to respond to pessimism that will lighten the mood and keep the conversation flowing in a more positive direction.
1. “Wow, you seem really upset. Let’s talk about something else so you are able to cool down.”
This response shows empathy by offering to change subjects with their best interests in mind. When someone is extremely emotional, it’s best to completely change the topic. Their emotions will be way too high to have any reasonable conversation about the subject that set them off.
2. “That sounds like a tough spot to be in. How are you going to get past it?”
With this reply, you are acknowledging their struggle. Negative people have a high desire to feel heard. Once you’ve empathized with their situation you can easily redirect them towards thinking of solutions. They will likely have a lot of pride and want to come up with one on the spot. If they say “I have no idea” then you may offer to help them brainstorm some ideas.
3. “I’m impressed at how well you are handling this situation.”
People who complain are usually craving attention. Most of the time, when someone is negative towards others, they are also very negative towards themselves. If you give them the love and praise they are craving, then this could disarm them and break them out of their negative thinking patterns.
4. “I am so sorry that happened. I wonder if they realize how they made you feel?”
In most cases, people who whine and complain have made a lot of negative assumptions. They sometimes struggle to see things from others’ perspective. They are stuck in a victim mode mentality. When this happens, you can ask questions that get them thinking of possibilities they haven’t considered without directly arguing with them.
5. “What has worked for you in the past when these situations have come up?”
Negative people usually feel deeply disrespected and out of control. By putting them in control of the conversation and asking about their past experiences, you are putting them in the drivers seat. They will love this. This gives them the respect and attention they desire.
6. “Oh no! Is there anything I can do to help you fix this?
With this response, you are showing them that you are on their team. They are likely feeling alone, which is leading to their negative perspective. Most of the time, they will not take you up on this. You will still make them realize you are on their team. That will go a long way with them.
7. “Wow, it sounds like you are having a tough day! What’s one thing going well for you today?”
This is a good response for someone who is complaining about several things at once. Usually they are stuck in a negative mindset and can’t keep themselves from focusing on negative things. This helps them to reflect on what they have to be grateful for today. It’s tough to be bitter and negative when you are in a grateful state.
In the end, it’s tricky to deal with negative people in a way that transforms their mood to a more positive state. You have to think outside of the box. This takes practices and preparation. You can’t simply confront negativity with more negativity because it will add fuel to the fire. On the flip side, you also can’t meet negativity with unfettered positivity because it feels like a slap in the face. The best way to handle a negative attitude is to acknowledge them and then redirect their focus.
This approach works because it isn’t confrontational and it doesn’t kill conversation. You are helping to give them the love and support they need without draining your own positivity. Try this out next time you encounter someone stuck in a mindset some might consider as whining. Turning around someone’s day will give you both a lot of energy and make a positive impact!