I'm in a highly ranked science PhD program, but my department has this odd self-deprecating culture where conversations can quickly turn into who least deserves to be in the program and who sucks the most at science.
I especially have a couple of friends who cannot stop putting themselves down about everything, like their cooking. And it's frankly exhausting to listen to the two of them talk because it's a race to the bottom, even with me trying to intervene and tell them they're good at what they do!
Sometimes I just want to grab them and shake them and say "You're in this program! You are a very smart and qualified person!" But that doesn't seem very productive.
How do I respond in a way that is encouraging?