Saturday, October 24, 2015

Responding to negativity

One of the things that has always fascinated me about people is negativity. It's a mindset that not only sets the mood for people around you, but it tends to foster more of the same. It's one thing to say you're going to avoid negative people or people who have something negative to say, but that doesn't really solve anything.

One thing you can do is show empathy, then change the subject to something positive. "I'm sorry to hear that. Did anything good come of this?" If the answer is no, completely change the subject. The idea is not to dwell or add fuel to the fire.

Find a strength in the story and remind them how impressive it is that they kept their head. This just focuses on the positive of the situation.

Ask them how they normally handle situations like that to get them thinking about coping mechanisms.

"Too bad so and so doesn't have the courage that you do." This is a combination of flattery and may force them to think from the other person's perspective.

If you summarize what they said back to them to make sure you understand the situation, it proves that you were actually listening to them, which, in my humble opinion, is what they're hoping for in the first place. Just don't embellish, to add fuel to the fire.

When you just don't know what else to say, change the subject to something happier. You can offer help, but just be ready to follow through. Sometimes, the offer of help will be met with the realization that you can't help them, which helps defuse the conversation.

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