How to respond when someone vents to you.

When someone is angry, frustrated or worried, your instinctual and intuitive reaction may be to try to calm them down, urge them to cool off, suggest it’s not worth getting so upset about. And sometimes that may work. It is even better to allow them to vent and get it all out.

When someone is upset, it matters less what you tell them than what you enable them to tell you.

After they get their feelings off their chest then they can then have a constructive conversation with you.

Be careful not to brush off or minimize their feelings about the situation. Avoid saying “It’s no big deal.” “Just don’t give it any energy or thought.” “You’ll see it will all work out.” “It could be worse.”

The idea is to ask them good questions that can help them vent effectively.
1. “What are you most frustrated about?”
2. “What are you most angry about?”
3. “What are you really worried about?”

With each of these questions, you can dig deeper. “Say more about [one of the strong emotions you have heard them present].”

Only after they have gotten to the bottom of it, can you begin to think of next steps. “Now I understand why you are so frustrated, angry and worried. Since we can’t turn back time, let’s put our heads together to check out your options from here. Okay?”

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