We all have bad days and turn to our friends to vent about how everything is going wrong. One of the benefits of friendship is having a supportive sister behind you when you need it and vice versa, but is your friend looking at the downside all the time? She might be a Debbie Downer.
Debbie Downer’s don’t just vent. They always have something bad to say. Debbie Downers are too hot when the sun’s out, but too cold in the shade. They always have a problem with every restaurant option you propose, but never offer up their own suggestion. They can’t find the silver lining because they’re preoccupied with the rain. So how do you deal with the consistent critics and persistent protesters that you love dearly? There are a few things you should know:
Good girlfriends cheer each other up, but they shouldn’t be permanent props for happiness. It might be tempting to counter their negative comments with praise or sunnier suggestions to comfort them. By countering their negativity with compliments you’re encouraging the exact behavior you’re frustrated with! Everyone is different, but when someone has made up their mind that they are not happy with a given situation, outfit, or option, they are the only ones who can change their attitude. While it’s not a bad idea to offer your own positive spin on something, don’t put the pressure on yourself to make them happy! Trying to change someone’s mind about how they feel is about as productive as checking your phone every five seconds to see if someone texted you back yet. It will happen when it happens, and there’s not much you can do to make it happen quicker.
As soon as your chat goes south, recognize it and change the subject! When your friend is going on a rant about how horrible their weekend is, acknowledge that she’s feeling down about it and then change the subject and stay upbeat. Offer a quick “I’m sorry, that sounds like it sucked for you! Hey, did you see the trailer for that blockbuster movie that opens next weekend? I would love to catch it with you!” You may not be in charge of her happiness, but as a friend, you wouldn’t want to coldly ignore it either. Talk about something you’re excited about and your enthusiasm will come out as genuine. Attitudes are contagious.
If your girl is consistently down, and redirecting doesn’t work, ask what you can do to help. While it’s not your job to make everything better, that doesn’t mean you can’t offer help. Asking what you can do to help can shift her mindset from focusing on everything that’s going wrong, to how things could go right. Even if she can’t think of something specific, she’ll know you heard her and are there for her.
Do you have a Debbie Downer in your life? Do you have any tips for us?