#ProjectHappy: How To Deal With A Debbie Downer

Someone killing your buzz? Here's how to handle it.

female friends in summer

Is the office buzz-kill getting you down? Got a friend who’s forever moaning about her boyfriend, or a co-worker who’s always bitching about having a bad day? Debbie downers can be a real energy zapper, and they’re easy to spot says psychotherapist Josephine O’Halloran. “They’re the ones constantly complaining about their health, family, friends or colleagues,” she explains. “They’re the glass half empty person and they can influence your mood, dampen your spirits and drain your energy.”

While it’s totally possible to ignore most, Josephine says, with some negative folk you need to cut contact. “If you feel anxious at the thought of meeting them and they affect your enjoyment of life, it’s time to let them go.” But what about when that isn’t an option? It’s not always possible to phase out an irritating co-worker, or a down-beat relative, so you need to use some smart tactics to stop their negative vibes getting you down.

Quick Tips

  • Have a distraction tactic. When the convo turns negative focus on something positive, like an upbeat song or a happy memory.
  • Create Distance. Bitching started? Leave the room.
  • Change the subject. Not interested in moaning about the economy? Switch the convo to something light-hearted.

Don’t engage in their negativity

They’ve gone off on a major rant. Don’t be tempted to add fuel to the fire and engage in a bitching sesh with them. If you can steer the conversation around to more positive, light-hearted topics, and keep schtum when the conversation turns negative, they’ll soon get the hint that you’re not interested in listening to their whining.

Make a positive impact

Can you do something to intentionally brighten their day? While their happiness absolutely shouldn’t be your responsiblity, if you see something you can do that might brighten their mood, or help them with the thing they’re complaining about, then do it. As the quote goes, “be the change that you want to see in the world.” If all else fails? Cupcakes equal instant mood booster. (Just us?)

Be compassionate

Sure, it can be hard and draining to listening to someone complain, but chances are if they’re prone to a big old moan fest, there’s likely something underlying that’s affecting their mood. Remembering that we’re all just trying our best in life, should help you to feel less affected by their negative vibes. Offer help and advice where you can, and keep quiet when you can’t.