It’s a fine line between venting and complaining. On the receiving end, they can look similar because venting and complaining share some of the same emotions, frustration, anger and even sadness.
But, there’s a huge difference. Venting is a path towards healing while complaining is a path towards conflict. After complaining, the complainer is still upset, but after venting they feel calmer – either they have an idea on the path to a solution and/or their load has been lightened – and that allows them to move on.
PERSPECTIVE. Complainers see the situation only from their point of view; they are not open to other possibilities. When you are truly venting, you are not looking for answers. You’re simply sharing your feelings and that’s it.
FREQUENCY. Complainers complain. Often. About lots of things. Venting is less frequent.
PURPOSE. Complainers want the other person to agree with and support their views. Venters just want to let it out, and maybe some validation.
Complaining keeps you stuck. So, if you discover that you are more of a complainer, catch yourself in middle of a complaint and thank the other person for allowing you to vent, and then shut down the convo.
Final thoughts about venting:
1. Only vent if you know that the other person can actually make you feel better. If they don’t validate you in the way that you need, it just isn’t going to help.
2. Let them know that you want the opportunity to vent. “I just need to vent right now. Can you give me 5 minutes?” “Thank you for listening to my rant. I feel much better now.”