Sometimes people need to vent. It is a fact of being human. When someone is ranting we often do one of four things:
We agree and join in. Taking this route will wind the other person even tighter as we start spiraling with them; completely defeating the purpose of venting.
We listen silently. When we aren’t involved in the conversation at all the other person may feel like they might as well be talking to a brick wall.
We try to fix it without listening to the whole problem.
We discount their concerns and feelings by telling them to calm down or it isn’t that bad.
Unfortunately, those options aren’t very helpful. The whole point of venting is to release the pressure to avoid an explosion. To encourage productive venting, engage in active listening by using the following questions.
As you move through the conversation it is important that you keep your emotions under control. If the person venting feels like you are negatively judging them they may become defensive or shut down. And if you allow yourself to become hooked into their anger, you might start feeling negative too.
With the progression of the conversation the person venting should become less agitated and more able to have a focused conversation about the problem rather than the feelings surrounding it. When you realize they have reached that point you can then ask:
Helping someone vent allows them to work through the emotions they are feeling and move on to addressing the problem. Being a leader means knowing how to actively listen until the time is right to help solve the problem.
What kinds of situations do people vent about most to you? Let me know in the comments.
As always, I wish you the MOST from your potential!
PS – My second book The Ultimate Guide to Handling Every Disagreement Every Time is now available on Amazon