By Dr. Susanna Gaddis
Having to listen to a torrent of negative remarks is like getting caught in a heavy rainstorm. It’s not particularly pleasant, but it’s something we all have to endure occasionally.
What do you do when listening to a steady stream of negative comments? How do you respond when people wax on and on about things that have gone wrong, detailing all of the tragic, horrible circumstances that have befallen them?
When someone is whining, or engaging in “poor-poor-pitiful me” dialogue, turn-around phrases may help. Rather than offering advice “turn-around questions” can help a person arrive at their own solutions.
The following 15 questions can help others to consider possibilities, solutions or alternative points of view. They help move their thinking from stuck to unstuck:
- “What do you plan to do?”
- “What do you think is the best way to proceed?”
- “Then you think we need to proceed by . . .?”
- “What’s next?”
- “What are you going to do to turn things around?”
- “What are you going to do to help fix things?”
- “What can you do to patch things up?”
- “Have you thought about what you are going to do to restore your relationship?”
- “What are you learning about yourself by the way that you are handling things?”
- “What are you going to do to continue working effectively with him under these circumstances?”
- “What do you need to be able to move on?”
- “At what point will you be able to move on?”
- “Is there anything I can do to help?”
- “What is it that you need from me?”
- “Do you think you’re on the right track?”
Your Prescription: Consider what you say to someone who’s chronically negative. Offer a turnaround phrase. Watch what happens when others are encouraged to come up with their own solution and respond in a positive, constructive fashion.