We’ve all had challenging times at work. Sometimes, nothing can feel better than to vent frustration with a trusted colleague. However, venting frustration can be a problem if you’re not careful.
The worst happens when your work environment turns into a place of extreme negativity. I’ve been in workplaces like that, and it’s not fun. The “echo chamber” effect kicks in, and soon enough it seems as if everything everybody says is negative and critical. People aren’t happy, and they tend to wallow in the negativity. It can be a hard cycle to break once you’re in the habit.
For more about surviving toxic workplaces, go here: 3 ways leaders can survive a toxic work environment.
I’d hazard a guess that any leader has vented their frustration with a colleague at some time or another. As with most things, moderation is best. Personally, I find that to vent frustration with a colleague can be a valuable mental health aid.
But over the years, I’ve become more conscious of the pitfalls that can happen if you vent too much and become addicted! Let’s look at some ways to vent, without damaging your reputation or career.
1. Leaders Shouldn’t Vent Frustration Openly In Public
Sounds obvious? You might think so. But sometimes when people become frustrated and lose patience, these conversations can happen right out in the open. Some people get to the point where they think “everyone needs to hear this.”
Except that they don’t. Nobody really needs to hear this. Remember that to vent frustration is often not to fix a problem. It’s to help to maintain your composure and sanity, rather than letting everybody know how frustrated you are.
In addition, you need to be careful about venting in front of your team. This can send the message that you aren’t in control, which can be damaging for a leader’s reputation.
2. Leaders Should Balance the Negative With Something Positive
You don’t want your workplace or team turning into a pit of despair. If you choose to vent frustration, keep the negativity in check. Team members see your example and often follow it.
For every negative comment you make while venting, think about something positive to say. Reframing your mind with a positive thought can be a powerful way to stop slipping into negativity.
3. Leaders Should Remember That People Aren’t Stupid
Often we vent frustration because someone has done something we don’t like. Or the organisation doesn’t work the way we’d like it to. Or things happen too slowly. And those people just “don’t get it”.
Be careful not to get into the habit of thinking that everyone is stupid, except for your team.
This can start to build an adversarial mindset which can be damaging to the way your team interacts with the rest of the organisation. Usually, there is a reason for people’s behaviour than just “stupidity”. Find it and then look for a solution.
Learn more about fixing your bad team attitude, here: 4 simple steps to fix your team’s bad attitude in the workplace.
4. Leaders Should Take Action to Fix Problems
It’s easy to just vent frustration with your situation, rather than to actually fix it. This is especially true when it comes to people who you are frustrated with.
“Sandra is just so stupid. Why doesn’t she understand what we’re trying to do?”
Sometimes venting is just to ease your own frustration. But what if it could be used for good? Everything you vent about probably has a solution. And often people who are frustrated with others don’t even tell them about it.
Is it time to have an open conversation with the source of your frustration, rather than to vent about it, with no constructive outcome? You’d be amazed how much a conversation can help.
You need to stop and ask yourself “Ok, this is frustrating. So what are we going to do about it?”
5. Don’t Vent Frustration Every Time You Meet
Many of us have “venting partners” that help us get through the struggles of the workplace. It’s normal, and can be healthy when kept in check. However, it can become problematic when all you ever speak about with your venting partner are negative topics.
If all you ever do is talk about negativity and frustration, this is what you’re going to continue to do. Not only can this put a strain on personal relationships, but it can also make it more difficult to maintain a more positive mindset. Once again, it’s all about balance.
To err is human. To vent frustration is too. We aren’t perfect, and sometimes it feels great to have a good chat about that idiot from accounting that just doesn’t get it.
Over the years I’ve come to see both how rewarding and damaging venting your frustration at work can be. So take heed of these 5 tips for safe venting.
What do you think about venting frustration at work? Leave a comment below!
Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.