15 Reasons Why Venting is a Bad Idea

Admit it. Haven’t you ever let loose with a rousing rant? Didn’t it feel good to get all those pent-up frustrations out on the table? Who hasn’t indulged at some point? I know I have. But there are many reasons why venting, especially at work, is a bad idea.

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People usually justify it by saying:

  • “You’ve gotta be able to vent. It’s stressful to keep it bottled up inside.”
  • “If you don’t vent, all that pent up frustration comes out in other ways.”
  • “I’m very careful who I vent to. There are only a few people I do it with.”
  • “Once I get it all out, I can move on.”
  • “I need to know someone else is on my side.”
  • “I have very good reasons. You’d vent too if you were in my situation.”
  • “I come from a very expressive family. We all do it.”
  • “It’s part of our culture.”

Studies show that venting is like jumping on an emotional hamster wheel. It creates a habit we default to time after time. It lowers our trigger point.

There’s a difference between venting and asking someone for advice or unloading to your therapist. Asking for advice means you are solution-focused and invested in making things better. Venting often implies you feel morally superior.

15 other reasons why it’s a bad idea include:

  1. It drags other people down
  2. It can frighten others or trigger their own emotional outburst
  3. Your personal image, credibility and reputation suffers
  4. You don’t learn self-management skills (control, patience)
  5. It distracts you from finding solutions to problems
  6. It implies (especially to employees or young ‘uns) this is acceptable behavior
  7. It proves that others succeeded in pushing your buttons
  8. It may cause someone to end a relationship, avoid you and screen your calls
  9. People feel like they’re walking on eggshells around you
  10. It could lose you a promotion, a job or a piece of business
  11. You don’t learn how to soothe yourself under stressful conditions
  12. It can keep you stuck in a constant state of negativity
  13. Your mental health could suffer
  14. It saps your energy
  15. It blocks you from seeing the good things happening around you

So how can we stop it? Here are two ideas:

1. Challenge ourselves to go 48 hours, or one week, without venting. This will give us a taste of what self-control feels like and teach us how to focus on positive solutions.

2. Ask others who make venting a habit, “How do you want this to end? What are three things you’re going to do to resolve it?” This will disrupt the cycle of negativity and help them focus on working towards constructive results.

I believe most of us try hard every day to be a better person. No one is perfect – certainly not me! So the more self-awareness we can develop, the better. The less often we will second-guess ourselves. We also won’t have to apologize for our words or actions quite so much. And it can build self-confidence. When you feel like you can manage the ups and downs without falling to pieces or indulging in out-of-control behaviors, life will look a whole lot brighter!

Do you know someone who struggles with venting? Feel free to recommend this article or share on your favorite social media site.

Q: What do you think? Are there times when venting is necessary? How would you suggest people handle this habit? Please share in the comments section.

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Comments

  1. Laura,

    Great points! This makes me think of people in the customer service arena and how ‘venting’ makes their job so difficult at times. I also like the part about seeing the good things around us. These are excellent ideas to begin 2015 with!

    • Thanks Dan! For sure, those who deal with the public can sometimes get blasted by people who vent. It certainly makes me more conscious about my own actions too!

  2. Good points, all around! Although I am self-employed, I periodically run across clients who are down-right rude. They treat me like “the hired help.” I just turn away from them, say a few choice words under my breath, then think about the paycheck I’m getting. That always helps me 🙂

  3. Audrey Burton says:

    After working in retail, banking and church careers, I learned very quickly by the actions of others how difficult it can be to leave a job on bad terms because of an outburst, argument or venting. I felt that if I needed to leave for a better job or because I just needed to get out of where I was, that I had to leave on decent terms. I always wrote a letter about leaving and said positive things so that I never “burned any bridges”. One never knows when one might need to go crawling back and ask for a job again. That’s an awkward situation at best, without the added complication of having imploded the work relationship.

    • Boy, that is the truth Audrey! You’ve written words of wisdom here that many folks will be able to relate to. Never burn your bridges is something they should teach in the first year of high school. Thanks so much for writing in!