How to Survive: How to Deal with Complainers and Pessimists

Photography by Hallie Duesenberg

Photography by Hallie Duesenberg

By Susan "Honey" Good

I was reading an article titled, “What is the Number One Thing a Millionaire Looks for when Choosing Friends?”

The answer is, my darlings, an optimist!

I am a lucky optimist. I see the glass half full and make lemonade out of my lemons. I am ‘one born under a lucky star woman’ because I believe I was blessed with optimistic genes! I am not a cock-eyed optimist! I am a realist who sees the positivity in life. It is plain and simple!  Lucky me!

For example: It rained yesterday. A friend I was talking to over the phone said to me, “I can’t stand the rain.” And she went on and on and on! I thought about her words, replying, “We needed rain; I ‘love’ the smell of the fresh air after a rainfall and so do the flowers and the trees!"  Oh there I go again, darlings, with my optimistic outlook. Lucky me.

So how do I deal with my very few pessimistic and complaining friends?


  • First of all, I know they are not trying to purposely ruin my day. Your friends are not trying to ruin your day, either. This is my optimistic feeling.
  • Second of all I know their personality profile so I know what I am getting into.
  • Third of all when they lapse into their pessimistic mood I offer them a choice. I cheerily say in my optimistic manner, “Do you need to vent or do you need my advice?”
  • Fourth, if it is appropriate, I change the subject if I think the timing is right. I might say in my upbeat way, “Do you mind telling me something that is going right! Then I will tell you something that is going well for me!”
  • Fifth, I am compassionate and empathetic! “Your thoughts are helping me understand what it is like to be in a pessimistic mood. I am sorry you have to deal with this.”
  • Sixth, if I can no longer cope with my pessimistic friend I might say this, “You are very special to me. Every time we talk you are so down. You are making me feel unhappy. When we are together I need to hear one thing that is going right in your life!”

All of my personal techniques are for, what professionals call, ‘garden-type pessimists.’ Your friend may not be well emotionally. Your friend may need more than your comforting advice and help. In that case, you should use a different strategy. Call a family member and report your concerns. They are your friend who is in need. You should be their friend, indeed.