One of the quickest ways I’ve found to stop people when they go overdrive into victim mode with their complain stories is to just stop, and ask them in the midst of a ranting session; ‘So what are you doing about it?’
A bit harsh I know, but I only pull it out when there’s desperation involved: they’re desperate to change, in which case they’re committed to hearing whatever it takes, or I’m desperate, because they don’t look like they’re going to stop whining :p
Inevitably, they always get this deer in the headlights look on their face, which goes ‘what you’re supposed to be sympathizing with me whatever happened to “oh you poor thing”‘ and after that moment, the more aware of them will let the light dawn on their faces and seriously consider my question. The more defensive will go off into another tangent of sob stories, about why what they haven’t been doing hasn’t worked.
So, if I have to, I’ll go; ‘so what have you been doing that’s worked for you?’
(Astute readers, catching the focus on Solutions Focus?)
And then, moving on, ‘So what are you going to do about it?’
It’s a very quick method of moving from the past to the present then to the future (which is what really matters) and the re-focusing on solutions rather than the problems (which is what really really matters).
So, using this, what’s a challenge that you’re currently facing in your life?
1) What have you done about it that’s worked for you?
2) What are you doing about it?
3) What are you doing to do about it?