How to Deal With Debbie Downers?

Do you have a a Debbie Downer in your running group? How do you deal with such a person?

Debbie Downers can really have a bad effect on a running group, and doing nothing is in all probability not very effective in this case. There’s a chance that Debbie leaves the group if she starts being ignored, but it’s best to tackle the problem immediately. Here’s what you can do.

How to Deal With Debbie Downers?
When dealing with Debbie Downers in your running group, be nice and polite, but clear about her negative effect on the running motivation.

First: Be gently positive. If Debbie starts complaining or talking about something negative, stay positive and say something like “I can imagine that’s hard, but at least it’s a wonderful day and we’re here to run together.” It’s good to lightly validate her feelings and then redirect her toward the present moment and positive aspects.

Second: State your needs. If Debbie continue complaining , be clear but keep the focus on you. Say something like “Debbie, I understand it gets tough sometimes, but I prefer to keep my running positive, so let’s rather talk about what’s going well while we’re running.” You’re standing up for what’s best for you and your running group, and at the same time encouraging her to lighten up.

Third: Get serious. If Debbie doesn’t stop focusing on bad stuff and nothing seems to be changing, then it’s time to have a serious conversation with Debbie. When you have finished your running session, ask to speak with her for a moment. Ask her what she’s getting out of the group runs. Tell her that you do understand the need to vent, but point out that this group is meant to motivate people, and you’ve noticed that her attitude is starting to affect everyone negatively. Tell her clearly that you would like to continue to have her join the group runs, but she has to keep it positive if she’s going to continue to participate.

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Written by Jenny Nickelson

Jenny Nickelson has been a sports enthusiast since childhood. Because of her deep love to water, she started training swimming in early years. Today she swears on variety and does it all: from swimming, running and cycling to fitness, skiing, dancing and mountaineering.


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