Sunday, October 24, 2021

How to Handle Negative Friends

Ask the Life Coach

Dear Coach,

One of my dear friends is a complainer. I value our friendship and I don’t want to walk away from her. However, I also don’t want to be sucked into her negativity. Any suggestions?

Have a happy day,

Ms. Positive

Dear Positive,

I sympathize with your situation. As close friends, it’s tempting to bond further over shared negative ideas. Staying positive requires a greater effort than simply going along with the conversation. Good for you for recognizing the potentially toxic situation and wanting to solve your dilemma.

Here’s a three step process you can use:

  1. Even when she’s negative, assure your friend that you’re listening. You need not join in to show that you respect your friendship enough to listen to what she’s saying. This will give you credibility as you push forward.
  2. Redirect the conversation at the first opportunity. You could say, “I know I’m changing the subject but I’m wondering how you’re doing with _____.” This keeps the focus on your friend while you change the direction of the conversation.
  3. Have a goal of being able to talk about the negativity honestly. It would be a further bond between you and your friend if, eventually, you could simultaneously roll your eyes and say, “Here we go again with the negativity. Let’s get back to having a positive conversation.”

Helping her move away from negativity serves you and your friend as well as your joint friendship. It’s worth the effort.


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