Venting Etiquette 101
Venting some emotional steam can be pretty helpful in some situations, but there are right ways to vent and wrong ways to vent.
Not sure if you're practicing good venting etiquette? Follow these five golden rules and you'll be doing better in no time.
Vent to the Right Person
Venting should never be about airing your grievances with just anyone who will listen. To actually grow and heal while you express your feelings, it's important that you vent to the right type of person. Firstly, you want to speak with someone who you think will understand and support your perspective. It's about having a sympathetic conversation in which you are truly heard. This person should also be someone you feel totally comfortable talking to. If it's a private matter, especially involving other people, you want to make sure you don't share anything with a gossip who's going to tell everyone about your conversation the second it's finished.
Keep It Off Social Media
While we're not going to forbid you from ever being negative on social media, it's rarely productive to vent your personal feelings there. Here and there, it can be okay to keep others updated on what you're dealing with, but when you start complaining about specific people or situations again and again, it can turn into a bad habit that only serves to amplify your negative emotions. Especially when those feelings are still fresh, it's all too easy to say something you might regret posting later. Your frustration can also be misinterpreted or blown out of proportion, putting yourself in a situation where you get criticism, rather than the support you need. That can leave you feeling even worse about the situation than when you started.
Ask Before You Vent
Just because someone has been there for you in the past doesn't mean they'll always be in the right place emotionally to hear you out. Instead of taking it personally, realize that everyone is going through stuff in their lives. When you're feeling strong emotions and need to vent about them, you might not be in the best place to hear about someone else's situation. A quick, simple question like, "Can I vent to you right now?" asks politely first, prepares them for what's about to come next and gives them the chance to decline if they're not up for it. Let the person know it's okay to say no, and try to build up a group of trusted friends so you don't always rely too heavily on a single person.
Keep Your Venting to a Limit
It can be truly beneficial to have someone in your life to hear about your woes and bounce ideas off of, but always remember that they're only a human being and that they can only take on so much. Always consider their feelings and the role that they play in your relationship. Pay attention to how the other person responds when you're venting, and be careful not to wear the other person out or burden them too much with your negativity. Ask, often, if they're okay with your venting, and don't push too hard when you think they've reached a limit.
Make Things Mutual
If someone has been there for you through thick and thin to hear your complaints when no one else would, you should absolutely return the favor. Even if you don't consider yourself super sympathetic or that good of a listener, take time whenever you can to hear them out and help them feel the same way they've made you feel. Follow their cues and do what you can to play the role they've played for you. They've earned it.
Want some expert advice? Click HERE to find out a clinical psychologist's top tips for venting your anger.