It is always a challenge being around people who constantly whine and complain. If we’re not consciously choosing who to spend time with, it will be very easy to get caught up in conversations or activities that are unproductive and unhealthy.
The best thing we can do is to avoid being exposed to negativity but that may not always be possible.
In order to be better prepared to deal with situations or people who are negative around us, it will be highly beneficial to have some responses that can direct their focus to something different.
If we have some “Here’s what I prepared earlier” responses, it will:
- Make it easier to redirect conversations if it’s becoming negative.
- Help other people become aware that they’re in a negative or unproductive state.
- Ensure we don’t get drawn into their negativity and remain positive ourselves.
- Improve our communication skills as we’ll be more aware of how to respond to different situations.
Oftentimes, people whine and complain to us because we allow them to. If we can train others to be aware of their behaviours around us, then over time, they will stop whining and complaining to us because we won’t buy into their negativity.
Here are five effective ways to respond to anyone who is starting to moan, whine and complain to us so that we can redirect the conversation to something more meaningful and productive.
- Can I just interrupt you for a second? What outcome are you looking for from this conversation? This will make the person stop and think as to why they’re about to complain to you and what they would like from the conversation.
- I hear what you are saying and it’s not a good position to be in. What do you think you can do to turn your situation around? Here, you are acknowledging the person for what they’re going through and inviting them to start thinking about how they can turn things around.
- Sounds like you are having some challenges right now. What are some potential solutions to your challenges? Once again, you’re acknowledging their struggle without dismissing them and asking them to start focusing on how to resolve their situation.
- You seem quite upset and animated right now. Shall we talk about something else so that you can take your mind off it? This is similar to the response above but here, instead of going straight to a solution, you are giving the person the option of talking about something else so they can stop focusing on their situation for now.
- Is this the first time you’ve experienced something like that? What have you done previously that has worked for you? This response allows the person to draw on their past experiences and helps them realise that they can get over this current challenge.
These responses are designed to keep the conversation going and give the other person an opportunity to come up with solutions to their challenges. The reality is that will not always be the case. Some people will continue to whine and complain no matter how polite we are or how much we try to assist them. What can we do in such situations?
How to Kill a Conversation
- I’m sorry but I really prefer not to drawn into your negativity right now. Can we please leave this conversation for now and resume when you’re in a better frame of mind? In a polite way, you are bringing an end to the conversation before you get sucked into the other person’s negativity.
- Are you telling me this because you think I can do something about it or are you complaining just for the sake of complaining? This is a more direct way to interrupt the other person and make them aware of how they’re currently behaving. Most times, the other person will automatically correct their behaviour and may even apologise to you for complaining.
The better we become at addressing negativity of other people, the less likely they will want to continue being negative around us. It is our responsibility to manage our energy levels and our experiences. These responses do require a certain level of confidence and consistency. If we don’t manage our conversations well, we will be more likely to get drawn into other people’s negativity which will take us away from what we’re trying to achieve.
Action Step: Become increasingly aware of the conversations people have with you. If you notice anyone being negative around us, start using the above responses to redirect the conversation to something more productive.
Question: What is another effective response that will stop negative people complaining to us?
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