Dealing with Negative Dinner Party Guests

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.

I like to remember this quote when we are entertaining.

It can be tricky, sitting around the table with dinner party guests, keeping meaningful conversation going rather than falling into gossip or negativism. It just feels better, keeping the conversation fruitful, rewarding, and good for our souls. And yes, this is the host’s job, to monitor the conversation, so the entire party doesn’t fall flat.

I’ve been asked often, what do you do with perpetually negative people around the table, Sandy? Seriously, we stopped inviting them over for dinner parties. And it’s okay!

Honestly though, we’ve been very blessed in our 22 years of entertaining, with wonderful guests, and have been invited to many dinner parties where this rarely has happened.

There’ve only been a few times in our home, where after the dinner party my husband and I regrouped, talked it through, and came up with a plan for the next time we’d host.

Just because one dinner party doesn’t flow exactly the way you think it should, we should still extend grace and give people another chance. It could just be an “off” night for them, or they’re going through a hard time, so it’s worth another try. But … if the pattern continues, then you may need to make some changes in your invitation list.

How to deal with negative people while entertaining:

1. Decide if they are a good fit for your party.
2. Seat them between 2 very positive people.
3. Speak to them ahead of time and discuss your concerns.
4. Invite them to more casual parties instead of formal sit-down parties.
5. Don’t invite them at all.

We’re working hard on making this world a better place, and hopefully we can inspire and encourage one another around our dinner tables! We shouldn’t let negative people stop us – we just need to move forward with our invitations and aspire to hosting healthy parties!

How do you deal with negative dinner party guests?

   

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16 Responses to “Dealing with Negative Dinner Party Guests”

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    Angie | Big Bear's Wife — September 3, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    I love this so much. I’m working on getting all of the negative people out of our lives and this includes dinner guest haha. Glad to know I’m not alone

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 3rd, 2013 @ 6:46 pm

      Working toward peace and love and understanding is good and a mature way to handle people, Angie. Proud of you, girl! Wish I could come to one of your dinner parties!

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    Barbara — September 3, 2013 @ 8:26 am

    Thank you for addressing this difficult topic because most of us face it at one time or another. Perpetual negativism is like a poison. When it goes on and there seems no hope of it stopping, I avoid those people.

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 3rd, 2013 @ 6:45 pm

      Thanks, Barbara. It’s not always easy being real and authentic here, but if it helps others, I want to be. Poison is the best way to describe it. Thank you!

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    JulieD — September 3, 2013 @ 9:01 am

    Sandy, you always give great advice! I try to avoid negative people but I think sometimes even positive people get into negative conversations. Glad you address this and hopefully, there are ways to spin things to the positive and move those people in a different direction in conversation!

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 3rd, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

      I think there is, Julie, and being prepared, as Dee explained, is a great way! :)

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    Dee Parker — September 3, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    A negative-to-the-core person just doesn’t get an invite. Otherwise, I know which people tend to negativity and I usually know what their latest complaint is. So I prepare myself with some positive ideas to bring up should it become necessary.

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 3rd, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

      Being prepared with “positive” comments is an excellent idea, Dee! Thanks for sharing!

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    Carol Ann — September 3, 2013 @ 11:57 am

    I have no problem with Option #5 – Don’t invite them at all. I have only encountered this issue once when we hosted a dinner party for new neighbors. The racist comments they uttered were enough for me to put them on my “NEVER AGAIN LIST.” Which, coincidently, they were the only people ever to make that list.

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 3rd, 2013 @ 6:43 pm

      Ooooh, that does not sound like fun. Thanks for being honest and real here, and I hope your comment helps others reading this post, Carol Ann! :)

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    Cheri — September 3, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    Thank you for this post. We ran into this just last week, when we hosted a small informal dinner. My husband and I deflected, ignored, and redirected comments and conversations often, and were exhausted at the end! Considering the #5 option for one guest in particular.

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 3rd, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

      Cheri, it’s really okay to do. Thanks for being honest, and I hope your comment helps others! :)

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    Melissa D — September 4, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    I think it can help to give negative guests a script ahead of time, like “Mary, you’ll love Jane. She loves thrifting and makeovers as much as you do! I know you’ll have lots to talk about…” or something similar. Get them going (if possible) on a positive topic, with one or more of your other guests.

    And sometimes good people are just going through hard times, or through a weird tunnel of life where it’s hard for them to see the big picture. It can help to chat them up beforehand and try to give them room to let off steam, or to ask them what they need or if you can pray for them; sometimes that’s enough to let them feel taken care of. Then there’s room in their heads for more positive topics.

    As far as super negative folks go (racist, raging, etc) — if they’re family, you may have to keep in contact… but keep it infrequent or in as controlled a situation as possible!

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    Shari Kelley — September 6, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    I love your quote above about great people discussing ideas. I struggle with knowing what to talk about with people after you cover what they’ve been doing since you’ve seen them last. I also like the fact that you think ahead about promoting good conversation. Do you have any tips on things (ideas) to talk about that spark good conversation?

    • Sandy Coughlin replied: — September 6th, 2013 @ 8:26 am

      Shari, if you go to my “conversations” category you will see all kinds of posts on conversation (here on RE). :)

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