We all have our Debbie Downer moments. Well, new research shows when people are bummed out, most of the time they don’t want to be cheered up. And no amount of “looking on the bright side” will get them out of their funk. In fact, trying to cheer someone up will only drag you down with them. That’s according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Psychologist Dr. Denise Marigold conducted the research and she says, we can stop trying to find the silver lining - and we can lay off the optimistic comments, like “Things will get better.” Because even if we mean well, trying to cheer someone up will only alienate them by making them feel they aren't understood and their feelings aren't valid. In other words, our attempts to cheer them up only makes them feel worse. And we end up feeling worse too! Because when we try to pull a friend out of their funk - and fail - we end up feeling bad about ourselves.
So what should we do? Well, what Debbie Downer really wants to hear is that you understand how she’s feeling. That her feelings are appropriate for the situation. And that it’s okay to be bummed out - without trying to fix things or make her feel better.
So, next time your friend is telling you how hard it is to find a new job - don’t tell her that “Things will turn around soon.” Simply say, “Things are tough for you right now. I’m sorry you’re going through this.” It may be more helpful, for both of you, than trying to make her look on the bright side.