Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vent or Attack

Today's blog post will be about something that everyone does and has had done to them. Venting. Or are you really attacking your ventee? So let's talk about the difference.

Venting: the offloading of thoughts and feelings about a particular event/experience to a voluntary listener.

Attacking: the offloading of thoughts and feelings about a particular event/experience onto a voluntary listener.

There doesn't seem to be a huge difference, but there is. One is going to make you feel better and give the listener a better understanding of you as a person. The other is going to make you feel powerful and make the listener hate you.

Often when you vent it is hugely emotional. And the way you use language will determine how those emotions are seen by others.

The first thing to remember is not to use 'you' phrases, unless you are looking for a fight. As soon as start using 'you' phrases you are making the vent personal to the listener. And since vents are not usually full of positive feelings, the listener is going to feel attacked. So stick to 'I' phrases. Keep it to how it makes you feel, not how the situation or other people make you feel. For example 'I feel sad', not 'You make me feel sad.' or 'I feel like no one understands' not 'you don't understand'. They may not understand but they aren't going to be interested in learning more if you are attacking them.

Secondly, remember that the person listening to you is doing you a favour. They don't have to listen to you offload, unless they are a counsellor and that is their job. And that is not to say that you can attack your counsellor either. If you want to stay on good terms with this person who chooses to let you vent to them, then respect them.

Thirdly, avoid generalisation. Saying something like 'all women are bitches' is not going to do you any favours and if the listener happens to be a woman you just called her a bitch. And this leads to the fourth thing to remember.

Fourthly, be specific. Vague venting about 'something' is just bitching. If you have a real issue you should be able to define it. What exactly is it that makes you feel the way you do? 'People are being mean to me' is a vague statement. Which people? What exactly are they doing that makes you feel they are being mean? Without specifics it is very hard to find solutions to issues.

And lastly, be clear that you are venting. Many people when hearing a person offload their feelings try to find a solution, especially many males. Right from the start make it clear that you are venting and that you aren't looking for solutions or answers, you just need to get it off your chest and clear your head. And be sure to thank the listener for giving you their time.

By doing these things you will find that venting becomes cathartic and really does help you to define your feelings and helps you figure out for yourself where to go from here. It can also help strengthen relationships and lead to a deeper understanding.

Happy Venting

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be respectful. I moderate comments and unsavoury ones will be deleted.