Avoid the Venting Vortex

I once had a colleague who aired her grievances, frustrations and points of view loudly and often. While there was no problem with this per se, her way of communicating seemed to go on forever. It was like a record being stuck on repeat.

Have you met that person? The one whose venting goes on and on and on and never seems to reach a point?   In my experience, every pharmacy (and workplace!) has at least one of these people. And, I’m guessing, if you’re reading this you like helping others. This then leaves you vulnerable to getting sucked into the venting vortex with no way out. Never fear, emotional intelligence is to the rescue!  

EI Competency = Inspiring Performance
EI Behaviour = Providing useful support to others  

The thing with support is that it is contextual. What support looks like for someone in one situation is different to the next. Some people may just want to vent and use your empathetic ear. Some may want help to move forward and find solutions. Some may start venting not knowing what they want. Regardless, there is one principle that works in most contexts, whether you’re an expert on the subject matter or not.    

The Coach-Mentor Approach

The coach-mentor approach (in that order) follows three steps.

1. Coach – Establish what they are trying to do or achieve.

Help me understand where the problem is here.
What help do you want from me?
What would be a good outcome for you?
What is the real challenge?

Note: If they say, ‘I don’t want anything, I just need to get this out!’ put a time limit on it or explain you would be happy to hear it at a time appropriate to you. It’s not fair to multi-task your other jobs and increase the risk of error, have this person jump the queue of people waiting for your assistance or not listen to them completely.  

2. Mentor – Help brainstorm ideas for solutions by asking open and open probing questions

What would it take to resolve this?
What have you tried?
If there were no consequences what you do?
What’s the workaround to what you can do now?
What’s the real challenge here?
Who’s help do you need?
When can you start this process?
What else could you try?
Have you considered…

  3. Provide appropriate specific examples of your own (optional)

DO NOT START HERE! When you start here you ‘assume’ you know the answer before having the information. This is counterproductive because you can get the context wrong. You will likely pick up on the ‘data’ or ‘facts’ that mean something to you, not what it means to them. This will lead you up the garden path quickly.  

The benefits of this process

You don’t need to do the heavy lifting ‘fixing’ things. Hot tip: You do not need to be the answer to everybody!
You encourage the other person to think in a different way which helps develop autonomy.
You control the trajectory of the conversation. Keeping it future-focused helps the person to keep moving forward rather than get stuck in a loop.


If you try this out this week, let me know how this goes for you. Do you have a favourite question you use in these situations? Share it!  

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