What to Do When a Conversation Drags You Down

by Ann Voskamp {click to get a free printable}

 by Ann Voskamp {click to get a free printable}

We can all find ourselves pulled into negative conversations from everything from the weather to politics to what great aunt so-and-so did last week. The start of a new year always feels like the blank page of a new journal so guarding our words and helping others around us do the same is perhaps more important now than ever.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,

but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,

that it may benefit those who listen. Eph. 4:29

So if you find yourself in the middle of gossip or a gripe fest, what can you do?

Here’s my go-to list of three kinds of questions to ask to help the conversation get back on track (and if you’re the one doing the gossiping and griping, ask yourself these. ha!)

If you find yourself stuck in a negative conversation, ask a question that’s:

Personal – ex: What do you think will help? {Use when someone is saying, “The whole world/office/family is a mess.”}

Positive – ex: What’s going well in the middle of all of that? {Use when someone is saying, “Here are the ten reasons why the whole world/office/family is a mess.”}

Pointed – ex: What’s a small step you could take? {Use when someone is saying, “And if everyone else would just get their act together the world/office/family would no longer be a mess.”}

And, yes, the world/office/family is likely to be a mess–probably always has been, always will be. So while negative talk makes it feel like we’re doing something about that, we’re actually just wasting valuable time, words, and energy that could be used for encouraging others and acting on solutions {the little bit we really can do} instead.

Researcher John Gottman has shown that healthy marriages have a ratio of five positive comments for every negative one. I tend to think the same is true of all our other relationships too.

So give Jesus the gift of your words this new year–and you’ll be giving a powerful gift to those around you too. Let’s only speak words that make souls stronger.

What are your tips for conversations, especially this time of year?

About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,


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