Ask the grumpies: How do you steer a conversation away from complaining?

Debbie M asks:

how do you steer conversation away from complaining? I like a good rant as much as the next person, and sadly I also complain as much as the next person. But I don’t like that.

Some negative things absolutely need to be discussed and handled, and some problems need venting. But I don’t want those to be the ONLY topics of conversation for hours on end. Think: complaining about work problems in a very repetitive way. Probably shouting, “You already told me that three times!” is not ideal.

Just three?  You’re lucky!

Not so long ago (before someone switched jobs) I may have asked #2 a “hypothetical” question similar to this one.  She suggested kitten pictures, but I kind of wonder if that’s just rewarding the problem.  (She also got the hint though… especially when my immediate reaction the next time was to send kitten pictures.)

#2:  My favorite topic-changer is to talk about kittens.  No matter what the conversation is about, just start talking about how kittens are great, they are so fluffy and pouncy and cute and they hop and they purr…

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Student loan grumples.

#1:  so my student loans got sold to this stupid mohela place and their website is stupid

 #2:  they’re still low interest though, right?
just a pain to pay?
 #1:  right
 #2:  how many years ya got left?
Maybe they’ll get sold again…

#1:  wow, that’s dumb.  To make a one-time extra payment, you have to set up a recurring payment but just stop it before the second one would happen.

talk about yer non-intuitive
 #2:  sounds like something they don’t want you to do
 #1:  no, they really don’t
too effing bad
(update:  the payment went through, at least…)