Have you ever been around someone who is just never happy? They can complain about the most insignificant things around. You wouldn’t have noticed anything if they didn’t mention it over and over. I swear it’s a special power, because as the complainer complains I lose all my mental power. Eventually sitting unengaged and frustrated.
A couple of years ago I went on a working/girls’ trip to Las Vegas–as far as I knew it was a great visit to one of my favorite cities. The girls and I received a free upgrade from a deluxe to luxury room, we enjoyed fine dinners, VIP access to the nightclubs and a driver. A few days later I catch up with one of my girlfriends for lunch and from her perspective everything that could go wrong on our trip did and is complaining about things I didn’t give a second thought to or notice. The noise in the hall way (20 seconds while a tired child was lead into the hotel room by his parents–hardly a vacation disaster), the non-existent odor in the hotel room (we changed rooms twice), the view from the room only has a partial view of The Strip. By the end of our conversation I just wanted to scream, “Just stop it!” Lunch was anything but relaxing and left me in a bad mood. Now, I know why.
This week I read an article by Minda Zetlin, Listening to Complainers is Bad for Your Brain. The article talks about a book by Trevor Blake, the author of Three Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life, described how neuroscientists have learned to measure brain activity when faced with various stimuli, including a long gripe session. “The brain works more like a muscle than we thought. So if you’re pinned in a corner for too long listening to someone being negative you’re more likely to behave that way as well,” says Blake.
As a person with fibromyalgia, I have enough issues keeping a smile on my face as it is. The last thing I need is to listen to a bitching session about things that are insignificant.
Blake gives some recommendations on how to defend yourself and your brain from negativity. Here are his 3 Tactics to Avoid Negativity
1. Get some distance. I did–I didn’t have lunch or speak to my girlfriend for a month. I made our next meeting a group dinner and made sure we stayed away from negative conversation. I told the girls we could all have a one-minute bitch session while we enjoyed a cocktail, but then no more negativity would be allowed at our table. Everyone happily agreed.
2. Ask the complainer to fix the problem. I wish I thought of this. Having her take responsibility for a solution would have been a great option. Perhaps writing a letter to management would have made her feel better.
3. Tune them out by using your imagination. Focus on something else while they complain and change the conversation when you get a chance.
Have you ever been caught up in a situation like this? What did you do?
Because I got by with a little help from my girlfriends, I want to help you get help from your girlfriends. As always, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.
Carmen M. Perez, Travel Planner
Your Florida Travel Expert and Girlfriends’ Getaway Specialist
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