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burntbonez's avatar

What are the pros and cons of venting (complaining)?

Asked by burntbonez (5194 points ) January 29th, 2013

I struggle with this. I think it is important to vent in order to lay out issues, but venting, if it stays that way all the time, becomes a stuck place. I think you need to move on to problem solving.

What is your personal experience? Are you a venter or complainer? Do you move on to problem solving? Do you skip venting and go straight to problem solving? Do you never get past complaining? Are you comfortable with your way of doing things, or would you change it? If you would change it, how would you change it?

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22 Answers

diavolobella's avatar

Sometimes it’s not possible to solve a problem. I am in that situation right now and so I vent to people who understand my situation and who also know they are free to vent to me when they need to. If I could change the situation, I would, but it is not within my control and I think it is important to be able to vent your frustrations in a situation like that because holding in the stress is unhealthy. I also work off the stress in other ways, but sometimes communicating to a sympathetic person is what you really need. When a situation is possible to change, I don’t complain, I take action.

Pachy's avatar

I think it’s very important to vent, because not only can it diffuse anger or angst, it can also help you work your way through the issue—you just have to be careful when and to whom. For example, venting to a manager, even if he/she encourages it, can be very risky, and even more so to someone you manage. Outside of work, it’s great to have a spouse or s/o or close friend or relative to vent to, but again, you should try, insofar as possible, to pick the moment when the person is most receptive and least likely to take your rant personally.

One more thing I’ve learned is that ventees may offer advice. Sometimes that advice may be objective and helpful, sometimes not, but always it’s best not to make the other person feel responsible for “saving” you or to feel guilty if you don’t like what they’ve told you.

Shippy's avatar

My internal mechanism is to problem solve, when I cant find an answer I get really frustrated. Me being frustrated is not a pretty site. I either become morose, aggressive or desperately sad. So I will go to another, to see if they have an answer I can’t see. I am more of a problem solver personality all round. If they cannot see an answer, I start to vent.

I rarely vent at the person responsible for causing me to be in this position. Because it is normally my ‘family’. My family are all bipolar. Bloody hell can you imagine that? So we are all prone to fly off the handle. So me being the most rational (cough) will try and remain calm in the face of things. Behind the scenes I am going mental/ler.

marinelife's avatar

I try not to comp[lain about something to more than three people. I also try to get it out and move on.

gailcalled's avatar

My sister and I have an agreement that we are each allowed one long sentence of unqualified and unjustifiable whining about anything per day to each other. Then, unless death or disfigurement is imminent, we have to move on.

I was thinking about that this morning. Personally, I feel I have choices. How lucky I am, I thought, to have a hot shower, a warm house, a car with gas, food, a life in the NE United States, a police force whom I knew as teen-agers and whom I trust, neighbors who are also the volunteer fire fighters, and working parts (albeit creakier and rustier than they used to be.)

It did take me decades to arrive at this way of thinking.

(Or, boo hoo…I can’t hear much in one ear, my vision is no longer 20–20 with glasses, my knees are killing me, I am much closer to death than I used to be, I will never have grandchildren, I am really annoyed at the state of my long driveway, I can no longer wear high heels.)

Coloma's avatar

I am not a complainer but do feel the need to vent on occasion.You know what I do?
Seriously, I call MYSELF and vent into my own voice mail!
Then, when I listen to my own venting I feel relieved and didn’t splatter it on anyone else.

It is a GREAT methodology for unloading, really!

I will crack myself up by making all sorts of pissy and humorous jokes and observations that I could never share in real life with the objects of my irritations and after listening to my 2 or 3 minutes spiel I feel purged and grounded again.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I used to vent/complain when confronted with work situations where I’ve felt I was being taken advantage of.

Like management’s apparent inability to get certain employess to do what they’re paid to do, while passing their work on to me. I’ve found that co-workers (especially those in a position to affect future promotions) began to see me as “difficult”, despite the fact I expressed a valid concern.

It took some time but I’m finally understanding the wisdom behind:

“The best way to fix a problem is to not make it a problem to begin with.”

It’s often a lot easier to change my mind about a situation than to change the situation itself.

diavolobella's avatar

@SABOTEUR You are much stronger than I am because the work situation you describe is exactly what I’m dealing with. Because I’m a logical and fair person, I can’t accept the idea that the way to deal with unfairness is to do nothing, because that just means the lazy people keep on getting to be lazy and the hard workers keep being taken advantage of and held to a higher standard. Why is the one who speaks up difficult, but the one not doing their job isn’t? How do you reconcile that and not clobber someone in the head with a stapler?

Coloma's avatar

@SABOTEUR Yes, I always try to reframe what is easy to call a “problem” as a “situation” or a challenge.
Labeling something a “problem” attaches a negative and often defeatist energy to a “situation.”

cookieman's avatar

Initially it can aid in stress relief and to help plot out the situation more clearly.

Once that’s accomplished, I try to decide if there is or is not a solution.

If there is, I take the next steps toward that solution. If there is not, I make an effort to shelve it or drop it all together.

If you continue to vent and complain past this point, you’re just wasting energy and probably annoying the people around you.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I vent and then try to fix. The only bad thing is my company doesn’t like to listen, so I’ve noticed in co-workers it tends to go into permanent complaining mode.

It ends up spreading to other people in the company and one person in particular is avoided by all due to the constant complaining. So you have to be careful.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@diavolobella I agree, you should certainly work to change a situation if you can. The “Serenity Prayer” describes it thusly:

Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

The one thing it doesn’t mention is you don’t have to make yourself feel bad or upset about the situation in the process. It’s got nothing to do with “strength”. It has to do with you controlling the situation, not allowing the situation to control you.

SABOTEUR's avatar

For the record, I know my previous comment sounds all “yeah…right”. It’s hard to be “reasonable” when you feel someone is screwing you over. Eventually you have to realize that all too often venting is an easy yet ineffective way to make to feel better about a situation that sucks.

Either you “do it” and feel bad about it or just go ahead and do it if you have no other alternative.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

In my life, venting is incredibly important. If something has me so upset that I need to vent about it, then I call one of the people on my “vent list” and let ‘er rip. Spewing all of it out gets rid of some of the dark clouds over my head, then I can think more clearly and try to figure out a way to solve the problem.

Venting to a good friend can be just as beneficial as therapy, with no fee. :)

redellbabymomma's avatar

@burntbonez , i think that it depends on the situation that i am in…if its really serious then i get right down to it and nip it in the bud. if its small i like to compromise about it. but general things that happen in everyday life i just ignore it most of the time and if not i tell my mom about it and use the words she gave me and come up with strategies that i know woulde help the situation. i dont complain a lot only if i have a serious issue. i like to be a mediator but i also solve the problem by confrontation and sometimes that is not pretty becasue i dont sugercoat anything. i dont lie because i care about people and if i did that means that i dont care. i dont make the situatiuon worse by my words because i always have my mom and therapist to back me up. do you have a situation that you were in due to this topic or question?

burntbonez's avatar

@redellbabymomma No, there isn’t any specific situation. This is just a general observation. Often it happens with friends who want to complain. I go into problem solving mode only to realize they just want to bitch. So I have to stop trying to fix things. So I asked to try to understand how people perceive their own venting or complaining.

redellbabymomma's avatar

@burntbonez so you are saying that you dont have time to argue and problemsolve if you already know that its not going to change anything and wont get you nowhere?

burntbonez's avatar

@redellbabymomma No. I’m saying, if they want to vent, they don’t want to problem solve, and I need to shut up with the problem solving. They can’t hear me problem solve if they need to vent. First things first. And realistically, problem solving may never come.

My problem is that I want to help. That’s actually a problem if that is not what someone else needs.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@burntbonez That’s one hell of an on point observation. Bravo! It was a big revelation for me to learn that a lot of people “vent” (ie. bitch) ‘cause they have nothing better to do. It’s entertainment! They’re not trying to resolve anything, they just feel like venting.

I used to go into problem solving mode too until I realized a solution was the last thing they wanted to hear. And don’t even trying advising these people not to create problems where none exist. I’ve since learned to shut-up and listen or shut-up and block it out.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s very important and useful. Sometimes you can vent with other people if they are sympathetic or in a position to help. Sometimes you just need to find a quite place where you can have a long, serious talk with yourself.

@burntbonez I agree completely. I have a huge problem with my daughter in law and her mother because to them, complaining is a way of life, and they don’t even want to be helped. They are just like the people @SABOTEUR has described.

Unbroken's avatar

As a partially reformed problem solver. I realize there are benefits… and drawbacks to venting.

I think the components work well hand in hand. I did a lot of bottling.. Its ok there is a solution here it is etc. Crisis averted. No big deal. Which is fine until everything in the world is fine and nothing is a problem. If I can’t change it I change, adapt.

There is something altogether unhealthy about that.

Release frustrations. It is natural just be careful where and with whom and don’t overindulge. Also humor is great. Then move on or in the opposite order. We have yet to become automatons and I will not welcome that ascension.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t complain all that often. When I do, I tend not to go on and on. There are times when I want someone to just listen, and not try to fix things. In fact, I generally don’t want anyone else to try to fix me. I like to fix myself. I probably have trust issues. If someone wants me to believe something, I ask them to prove it. Most people aren’t so adamant about that.

But mostly I feel if there’s a problem, I need to fix it, and so if I talk about it, I am in problem solving mode, not descriptive mode.

On the other hand, I am generally patient with others who need to vent. I feel it is a service I can offer them, and a lot of people come along to talk to me because of it. At work, there are several people who stand in my doorway and talk and talk, and I can rarely get a word in edgewise. I’m used to it. I figure it’s an important thing to do.

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