posted: Nov. 11, 2021.
I saw this on Facebook earlier this week and just had to include this in this week's newsletter: "Do you want to vent or do you want advice?" is absolutely a necessary and important question to ask our loved ones whenever they are upset!
Theme of the Week- Communication Hack
You're having a conversation with a friend Sally and they are venting about work. Their company is putting extraordinary expectations on their work and they are feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, and cannot possibly do all that work during work hours...so they have to take it home. So they continue to vent about how that spills into their personal life and leaves them feeling tired, unable to be available for their family, and mostly feeling like the work never ends.
So you think, if only I could help them find ways to talk to their boss to allow for delegation of tasks and more time to do their work within work hours. Or maybe you think, I'll just tell them how I take my really busy schedule and plan for time at home without interrupting my family time. So you tell them this piece of advice, and then you notice they shut down or worse...they retort back and get defensive! What gives? You were just trying to help!
But the problem at that moment is your friend Sally didn't want advice. She knows the conversation she needs to have with her boss and how she can compartmentalize at home. She just needed someone to say, "yea, that sounds like a nightmare!" She wanted to feel seen and heard. So when instead she was given advice, she felt patronized and unseen, and barked back.
The best thing you could do to help support your friendships, relationships, and family relationships, is know what kind of communication your loved one needs. It is okay, and frankly highly encouraged, to ask your loved one if they would like to just vent or they need advice. This will help to improve your communication with each other and meet each other's needs appropriately. It allows the listening party to know that they are supporting properly and the sharing party to feel supported in the right way.
Challenge this week: Ask the question before jumping to answer
Next time your loved one comes to you with a problem, is upset, or is simply talking about challenges throughout their day...before you jump to respond, ask them, "would you like advice or do you want to just vent?" If they ask for advice, then go right ahead and jump into fix-it problem solving mode and be the hero! And if they want to just vent...then practice patience and active listening. Validate their feelings, show empathy. You might be very surprised to see how many times this puts out a fire before it even starts!