Ever been so mad, frustrated, or upset you just pop off and vent some steam? Think back on a time you vented some negative feelings. Was it helpful, or did it cause you problems? How did you feel about yourself afterward?
Evidence suggests it may make us feel worse, though in some situations it can help regulate emotion (it is not a good idea to regularly deny or repress emotions). Whether venting harms or helps seems to depend upon who you vent to and how you vent.
One study found that venting to a 3rd party could help you feel better, depending on the recipient’s reponse, but that if the 3rd party is the cause of the vent — it can exacerbate the venter’s negative emotions depending on how the recipient responds.
When we are recipients of vents, we can help it be a positive experience through good listening habits. When people vent, they may benefit from a listening ear rather than advice. SOLER is an acronym used in counseling to remind individuals of postures and behaviors conducive to good listening, according to an article by Dr. Charity Kurz in Thought Hub, citing Egan (2007):
“S – stands for facing the individual SQUARELY, which means that you are facing the person, both head and body.
O – stands for OPEN posture, which means arms are not crossed.
L – stands for leaning toward the person.
E – stands for maintaining EYE CONTACT.
R – stands for RELAXED in the other behaviors listed.”
Learning good conflict management is a key competency for emotional intelligence that can help relieve the build-up of negative emotions that can lead to unhelpful venting.
- “6 Virtues, and 6 Vices, of Venting” – Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, Psychology Today
- “Is Venting Good for Us?” – Future Minds Lab
- “Punching a Hole in the Wall Is a Big Deal” — Healthline
- “The Psychology of Venting” – Dr. Charity Kurz, Thought Hub
- Egan, G. (2007). The skilled helper: A problem-management and opportunity development approach to helping. Belmont, CA: Thomas Higher Education.
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