Admit it. Haven’t you ever let loose with a rousing rant? Didn’t it feel good to vent and get all those pent-up frustrations out on the table? Who hasn’t indulged at some point? I know I have. (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) But there are many reasons why venting, especially at work, is a bad idea.
People usually justify it by saying:
- “You’ve gotta be able to vent. It’s stressful to keep it bottled up inside.”
- “If you don’t vent, all that pent up frustration comes out in other ways.”
- “I’m very careful who I vent to. There are only a few people I do it with.”
- “Once I get it all out, I can move on.”
- “I need to know someone else is on my side.”
- “I have very good reasons. You’d vent too if you were in my situation.”
- “I come from a very expressive family. We all do it.”
- “It’s part of our culture.”
Studies show that venting is like jumping on an emotional hamster wheel. It creates a habit we default to time after time. It lowers our trigger point.
There’s a difference between venting and asking someone for advice or unloading to your therapist. Asking for advice means you are solution-focused and invested in making things better. Venting often implies you feel morally superior.
Other results include:
- It drags other people down
- It can frighten others or trigger their own emotional outburst
- Your personal image, credibility and reputation suffers
- You don’t learn self-management skills (control, patience)
- It distracts you from finding solutions to problems
- It implies (especially to employees or young ‘uns) this is acceptable behavior
- It proves that others succeeded in pushing your buttons
- It may cause someone to end a relationship, avoid you and screen your calls
- People feel like they’re walking on eggshells around you
- It could lose you a promotion, a job or a piece of business
- You don’t learn how to soothe yourself under stressful conditions
- It can keep you stuck in a constant state of negativity
- Your mental health could suffer
- It saps your energy
- It blocks you from seeing the good things happening around you
So how can we stop it? Here are two ideas:
1. Challenge yourself to go 48 hours, or one week, without venting. This offers a taste of what self-control feels like and teaches us how to focus on positive solutions.
2. Ask others who make venting a habit, “How do you want this to end? What are three things you’re going to do to resolve it?” This will disrupt the cycle of negativity and help them focus on working towards constructive results.
I believe most of us try hard every day to be a better person. No one is perfect – certainly not me! So the more self-awareness we can develop, the better. The less often we will second-guess ourselves. We also don’t have to apologize for our words or actions quite so much. And it can build self-confidence. When you feel like you can manage the ups and downs without falling to pieces or indulging in out-of-control behaviors, life will look a whole lot brighter!
Do you know someone who struggles with venting? Feel free to share this article with them.