My niece is a real Debbie Downer . No matter what we talk about, she always finds something wrong with it . We spent a few days together during the holidays and she drove me crazy . I was telling her about my new job . She didn't care . Honestly, all she did was complain .
At one point, I said she seems to see the glass half empty, while I see it half full . She took offense at my statement . I tried to give her examples of what I meant .
In the end, when she had hurt my feeling for the 100th time, I blew up and told her off . I really didn't mean to do that, but I was so frustrated . How can I fix that with her ?
Dear Worn Out ,
Your niece probably doesn't realize how she affects others . Often when people are overly negative, they have low self-esteem . Sadly, when they are challenged about it, it only helps to support their belief that the world is against them .
It may help to be very specific when you tell your niece your concerns. If you can identify the situation when she was extremely negative and it hurt your feelings, describe it to her . Through your eyes, she may be able to see how her reaction hurts you .
Helping her open her eyes to others' perspectives may soften her opinions about herself and those around her .
Dear Maxy ,
My family is divided politically . Even though the election is over, people are still upset . When we got together over the holidays, one of my uncles (who had to much to drink) started talking about the presidential election and how he thought the vote was rigged .
The opposing uncles jumped in and I thought it was going to come to blows . It was awful . I know they all had been drinking, but still it was mean and ugly . When I tried to break it up, it just got worse .
What should I have done and what can I do in the future ? They aren't going to change their views .
Dear Peace Maker ,
Tensions were high going into the presidential election and it was predicted that afterward there would be a lot of bad feelings no matter who won or lost . It is also relatively common for extended family to include members of different political persuasions . This can be a recipe for major conflict . In your case, the situation was exacerbated by alcohol .
What can you do? Nothing, in the midst of a drunken fight . It's best in a situation like that to walk away .
You could invite anybody else who isn't intoxicated to walk away, too. Anybody who is already lit is not going to be able to hear the voice of reason .
Dear Maxy ,
My assistant has worked for me for less than a year . Because she's the newest member of our team, she doesn't have any vacation days .
She asked me if she could take time off for her mother's birthday anyway . She told me she wanted to see her family and they always get together at her mom's house, 300 miles away .
Her question put me in an awkward situation . We have rules at my office about vacation time, but she really put the guilt trip on me ... so much that I gave her two days off . She hardly said "thank you" after all that .
I am not happy about this at all . How can I let her know my feelings?
Dear Annoyed ,
Remember your assistant is young and in need of guidance . Rather than being upset with her, educate her .
Tell her you are disappointed that she seems ungrateful for your extra effort to make her mother's birthday more special . Tell her you realize how much she wanted to be with her family to wish her mother a happy birthday and that you made an exception so she could be with them .
Explain that you expect her to have the basic manners to say "thank you" and go the extra mile at work because you went the extra mile for her .