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Let’s just come out with it. We all have problems and challenges as well as people and situations that make life difficult — or simply drive us nuts.  Often our default is to vent, sometimes repeatedly, to friends, colleagues, neighbors, or anyone who seems willing listen.

Is this really a good idea?  Some say that rehashing our problems over and over again (especially with no action to improve the situation) is NOT the cure-all that it once seemed to be. Plus, what’s this constant kvetching doing to your reputation?

The alternative? Check out this quick, but powerful excerpt from Chapter 43 of my award-winning book More Than Just Talk: The Essential Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Enjoy Better Conversations.  It may help you rethink where, how, how often, and with whom you share your troubles.

Try this! Have a problem or gripe? Need to vent? Get intentional. Choose (and limit) the people with whom you share it. There’s no need to repeat the same complaint, problem, or sad story over and over again with everyone you meet.

As an example, facilitator and leadership consultant Karen Snyder says she purposefully chooses to share her everyday complaints and troubles (such as fender benders, annoying bosses, and work issues) with only three people. That’s right, just three. These are carefully selected and trusted confidantes whom she believes will listen compassionately. They might also be people who can share wisdom and valid suggestions for how she could reframe, cope with, and solve her problems.

Snyder emphasizes that, in the case of big issues and tragedies (such as the loss of a loved one or a debilitating illness), getting ongoing support from loved ones, trusted friends, and professionals is essential. She also adds that the process of working through those heavy burdens shouldn’t be rushed.

  • Who would you choose to be in your circle for “controlled griping?” about everyday challenges?  
  • Who would you have help you with bigger issues?

Bonus tip:   How to open a problem-centered conversation in a productive way:

  • “I’m having a challenge with _________. Could I share it with you so I can get a neutral perspective?”
  • “I’m struggling with ________ these days. Have you ever experienced anything similar?

For more invaluable stories, strategies, and tips on how to have better conversations — and how to manage, shift, improve, or even avoid or exit those you’d rather not participate in, check out More Than Just Talk. You’ll find it on Amazon and via other online book retailers and at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.