Ideas to Stop Negative Conversations
Have you ever wished you could change topics in a conversation? Maybe someone is going on and on about their problems or the world’s problems. It could be someone who is often negative. Or maybe it’s someone who’s stuck in complaining mode because they’re having a bad day.
You might feel obligated to listen because you’re their parent, partner, friend, etc. But what about those times you need to protect your own energy and attitude? How can you also take care of yourself?
I would love to hear what’s worked for you! And here are some additional indirect and direct approaches you might consider trying.
- Take a break. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I need to go __________.” (to the bathroom, make a call, check on xxxx.)
- Use flattery. “Wow! I’m impressed that you _________.” (know so much, were able to xxxx.) This might shift their perspective.
- “It sounds like you’ve had a tough day. I’m sorry about (their details), but could we change the topic? I just don’t have the capacity/energy to talk about this right now.”
- “I agree that this isn’t fair/right, but I don’t feel like we can solve this problem, and we’re just making ourselves frustrated. Can we talk about something else?”
- “Can we change the topic? This doesn’t feel like a healthy/helpful conversation.”
The other person might not like being asked to switch focus, but if they care about you, they should understand. It might take them a while to come around, but they will.
If they don’t care about you, then you might be less worried about their reaction. If you have a strong avoider or pleaser saboteur like me, you might find this difficult. But a little practice can make it easier. Remember that self-care is important to our happiness and wellbeing.
If it’s someone who is chronically negative, you might explain to them that you’re trying to stay more positive. You might even share your personal reasons why you think it’s important. You might suggest limiting the amount of time your conversations focus on problems, etc.
What other tips do you have for stopping negative conversations?