Venting or Helping? That is the Question

The other day my daughter started telling me something negative that happened to her. Before she got deep into her story I asked, “Are you venting, or do you want my advice?”

She answered, “Venting.”

That was one of my better parenting moments. But I’ve been guilty of interjecting my thoughts, ideas, feedback, etc. when it wasn’t wanted. Have you?

Think about your own situation. Aren’t there (many) times when you just want to tell someone about that horrible person at work, or a bad customer service experience, or the friend that let you down — and just have that person listen? Ah — doesn’t that sound like heaven?

How I Use This Question

I’m not sure where I learned to ask the “vent or advice” question. The first time I used it was with my husband. Husbands can be amazing, but they tend to want to fix things. This YouTube video explains it perfectly:



When I want to tell my husband about a frustrating experience, I say, “I’m venting. No help needed. Just listen, please.” And it works really well.

Using This Question With Others

I’ve started using this question with my daughter, and occasionally with my Mom. My next step is to use it with friends. I’m sure that our interactions will benefit.

Who’s with me?