We all have difficult moments when we lose control of our emotions. We may be overwhelmed with anger, frustration, anger, stress, or irritation.
In a bid to get it out of our system, we vent out our emotions to someone close to us. But what if you are on the receiving end and someone vents in front of you? How do you respond?
How to Respond to a Venting Person
Instead of allowing a knee-jerk reaction to generate your response to someone venting, here are a few tips to deal with the situation appropriately:
Before you respond, the best thing to do is to listen. And more importantly, let them know that you’re listening.
The key is not to sit like a dummy in front of them, but respond with appropriate acknowledgment noises like “oh, no!” “I see”, “uh-huh” and so on.
Avoid parroting what they are saying, but instead, use your own paraphrased response, perhaps a sentence or two. But at this stage, ensure that you only listen, and do not add your opinion.
Use Appropriate Body Language
While you listen to the venting person, you can make them comfortable through your body language. Lower your head (but look at them occasionally), or avoid sitting in an elevated position.
Look them in the eye, and nod your head from time to time. If you are already sitting down, you can invite them to sit beside you or at your table.
That simple gesture will help the person relax and convey to them that you are ready to pay full attention to what they have to say.
Don’t Attempt to Change the Subject
If you want to help a person who is venting, you need to give them your undivided attention. Changing the subject will only make them feel that you aren’t taking their issue seriously.
The same goes for multitasking during the discussion. Don’t even look at your watch or mobile phone.
Maintain eye contact even when there is a pause in the flow. It might be that they are trying to collect their thoughts, thinking of what to say next.
So, if you want to make a positive effect on a person who is venting, put everything on hold and be 100% attentive.
Ask the Right Questions
If a person is upset, they won’t pay much attention to what you say. They want to tell you everything and get it out of their system.
Once you are done with listening, you can have a meaningful conversation by asking these questions:
What Is the Main Thing That’s Frustrating You?
Rather than asking them about their feelings (which sounds condescending) or trying to address their anger, (which again looks as if you are telling them to pull themselves together), ask them to focus on what is bothering them the most.
By asking a person about their main frustration, you cause them to vent further. Pick up the words spoken with maximum emotion.
You can use these words to lead the conversation when the time comes for you to react to these words.
What Makes You Most Angry?
By asking this question, you are digging deeper into their emotions. Ask them to speak more about the issue. Don’t get into a debate, but let them vent further on the issue, and listen carefully.
When they speak, look directly into their left eye, (linked to their right emotional brain).
Think that you’re looking into the eye of a cyclone, but with the intention that whatever they are yelling about will pass over your shoulders and not hit you in the eye!
What Really Worries You?
By asking this question, you get to the crux of the matter. Ask them to elaborate more. At the end of it, you can tell them that you now understand the issue.
A connection has been established between both of you. You can start by saying that since you can’t turn back time, you can go over the possible options together.
When to Stop Them
Even though allowing a person to vent, there is a limit of how much you can take from someone else. After a point, the tirade can become toxic and even contagious, inciting you to start venting yourself!
So, set the limit, and let them know in a subtle way that you have other stuff to take care of as well.
Everyone needs to vent occasionally. And it always helps if they can get a good listener. It could be someone at work having a difficult time with their boss or colleagues.
Or maybe a family member is going through a difficult phase.
Whatever the issue and whoever the person might be, if they approach you, it is possible for you to hear them out, even if you aren’t professionally trained.
Follow the tips provided here and make a difference to someone in trouble!