Our social interactions basically fall into two categories: those who leave us charged with extra energy and those who leave us drained.

Often it’s the person themselves who acts either as an energy-giver or an energy-sucker; sometimes it’s us who create an experience of communicating with a particular person in a way that it leaves us emotionally or physically exhausted.

We all have friends, colleagues, or family members who possess the exquisite ability to cast a dark shadow on any moment we may be sharing together. For some reason, we can’t or don’t want to remove them from our lives. We’re even aware of their perpetual “negativity”, yet we often provide them with the green light to deplete our energy reserves with as much as their presence or a few “well-meant” words.

Energy-giver: A person who is full of light and positive energy. When you meet such an individual, you leave the conversation with them inspired, elevated, and motivated to grow.

Energy-sucker: A person who walks around the world looking for opportunities to unload their problems, issues, and unsolicited advice on any poor soul who (often unwittingly) offers them an opportunity to do so.

It’s a no-brainer that the more people of the first category you have in your life, the happier your days. An energy-giver knows how to truly listen, with full focus, without submitting to the urge to interrupt so that they could use you as a channel to relieve their own tensions and frustrations. They don’t judge. They don’t pretend to know you better than you know yourself.

On the other hand, the mindset of energy-suckers is limited to the fact that they have always been, are, and will be victims to the external circumstances that control their lives. They like to blame. They choose pain over joy, even though they tend to think that it’s someone or something that has made them unhappy. They prefer to see what doesn’t work rather than what works just fine. They crush your dreams. They stamp on your hopes. They find a problem for every solution.

So what should we do in situations when we can’t avoid dealing with a person who may end up stealing our precious energy and splash us with a bucket of slimy negativity?

First of all, negative people LOVE to complain. If complaining were an Olympic discipline, they’d win their medal hands down.

However, since your goal is simply to keep your energy reserves intact, not to embarrass or offend the other person, you still need to be mindful of how they view the situation.

1. Show respect for their point of view


I can see that it has not been easy for you.

I understand how painful it must be.

This seems to be a frustrating thing to deal with.

The second step is pretty easy: extend a helping hand. Most of the time, complainers and energy-suckers don’t seek any help; they are merely desperate to be pitied and encouraged in their misery-sharing. However, it’s a great and efficient strategy for you to put an end to an unpleasant conversation.

2. Ask: How can I help?

Now there are two options:

Option A — They will admit that they need help and will be able to specify how you can contribute.

Option B — They will let you know immediately that they are not looking for help. Most probably, they will be confused that you have even asked such a thing. They simply want to share their troubles. Chit and chat.

In the case of option A, the following steps are clear. Give what you are able or willing to give. If you’re talking to a colleague or an employee, you can possibly refer them to someone else in your workplace who is more equipped to provide assistance on the matter.

In the case of option B, help the person to shift their focus to the most pressing issue that should be dealt with.

3. Ask: What is bothering you the most?

The person should be able to define what causes them the biggest pain in that particular situation, which will allow you both to discuss what is really important rather than letting them ramble on about the whole spectrum of their woes.

Then, help them shine a positive light on the state of affairs by making them remember what has been helping them so far. Even in the worst circumstances, we can identify things that work a little bit better than others, or moments that are a bit brighter than the rest of the day.

Nothing is 100% dark 100% of the time.

4. Ask: What has been helping you so far?

Repeat your own willingness to help as well if needed.

At this point, it’s the right time to wrap things up. You’ve made yourself available for the person to share what is bothering them while respecting their unique vision of the events. You’ve encouraged them to pay attention to what matters the most and reminded them of their own powers to fight the adversity.

5. Conclude the conversation with a few words of sympathy

If you memorize and practice the above-mentioned steps, you will soon learn that it’s feasible to navigate the social waters of your life without losing too much of your energy on the troubles of other people while not looking like an insensitive jerk who doesn’t care enough to listen.

Yet, remember: Don’t be fake. Show that you honestly care, but keep the dialogue firmly to the point.

And lastly, ask yourself: Which type of individual am I? The one who has accumulated so much inner energy and light that they make people around them feel inspired and happier? Or the one who is using others to fill all the holes in their souls?

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