Magazine article USA TODAY

Avoid Tangling with Debbie Downer

Magazine article USA TODAY

Avoid Tangling with Debbie Downer

Article excerpt

For those of us from families built on Debbie Downer DNA, there is only one direction a mood can go during holiday get-togethers. Sure, the running negative commentary, bubble-bursting barbs, and rampant self-pity were funny coming from comedienne Rachel Dratch on "Saturday Night Live," but few of us can foresee our own Negative Nancys giving us a good belly laugh.

Whether you are the perpetual smiley face among frowners, or a bit of a Depressing Dan yourself, there are tricks that can be employed to keep table talk from getting lethal, advises Paula Renaye, a professional life coach and author of The Hardline Self Help Handbook: What Are You Willing to Do to Get What You Really Want?.

"You can lake control simply by thinking about what you choose to say--or not say. If you hear yourself criticizing, judging, or complaining, you're part of the problem.

"Happy, self-respecting people do not find it necessary to dump on others to make themselves feel good. If someone else is the problem, simply do not give them the ammunition they need."

For instance:

* Do not say anything negative; period--and no one-downing, which is the opposite of one-upping. It is the art of coming up with something worse when others talk about their problems. No matter what negative thing anyone says, or how much you agree with it, resist the urge to respond with a negative. …

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