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7 Clever Responses to Stop Negative People from Whining

7 Clever Responses to Stop Negative People from Whining

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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