I'm bad at listening to girls vent

FlexGunship

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I almost put this in relationships, but I don't think it's appropriate; this is a general problem that need not be linked to romanticism.

Okay, I've learned the whole "girls don't need you to solve their problems, they just want to vent/be empowered" thing. But the problem I have is that I sometimes get genuinely interested.

I was listening to a girl vent and I asked too much about the story I guess. I thought it was appropriate: I was genuinely listening, not attempting to offer advice or solve anything, and asking questions. I wasn't trying to be obtrusive, but (1) I don't think I knew she was venting, and (2) the story was pretty interesting.

Finally, I got "this conversation is a lot of work, I want to hang up now."

And I wasn't only asking questions. I also said things like "wow, that sounds frustrating," "I couldn't deal with that," and "geeze, what a tough situation." (Not like a machine, mind you. I said them genuinely and appropriately.)

How can I be so bad at this?!

Now accepting advice.
 

dlgoff

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Are you venting Flex? I'm not too good at listing. Sorry.
 
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Are you venting Flex? I'm not too good at listing. Sorry.
Damn! I scroll down and you've already taken the best response!
 

lisab

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I've been told numerous times I'm strange, for a female. So take that into account with any advice I dispense.

When someone vents to me, I try to get the venter to "start at the ending". I ask, what would be the best way for this situation to end, and is that a reasonable expectation? If so, how can you help the situation move in that direction? If not, you need to realize your expectations are unreasonable. (And that last statement is why I'm not good at being vented to - no one wants to hear that.)

Regarding your conversation: I bet your questions were edging her towards the realization that her expectations are unreasonable. She got uncomfortable. She may come around again after processing her anger/disappointment/frustration.
 
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And I wasn't only asking questions. I also said things like "wow, that sounds frustrating," "I couldn't deal with that," and "geeze, what a tough situation." (Not like a machine, mind you. I said them genuinely and appropriately.)
I'm thinking these remarks must have sounded like the kind of assessments one offers after the other party is finished laying out their situation. In other words, she took them as you pushing her to wind up and come to a conclusion. Every time you interject something like this the other person feels like, "Hold on! I'm not done yet!" You have to wait till you're absolutely certain they're completely done before you feed back your sympathetic remarks. Otherwise it seems like you're trying to cut the venting short.
 

Dembadon

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Hmm, "this conversation is a lot of work, I want to hang up now" doesn't necessarily imply that you were the problem, Flex. Venting can consume quite a bit of energy while one goes through the rollercoaster of emotions associated with the events being processed. It's possible she was tired of verbally processing and needed to rest. Did she say anything else that led you to believe she was dissatisfied with your input?
 
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Finally, I got "this conversation is a lot of work, I want to hang up now."
How old is she, like 15? Sounds like it's her problem of being socially awkward, not yours.
 

FlexGunship

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Regarding your conversation: I bet your questions were edging her towards the realization that her expectations are unreasonable. She got uncomfortable. She may come around again after processing her anger/disappointment/frustration.
Could be. Her situation wasn't something that she needed to act on. Just a difficult client.

I'm thinking these remarks must have sounded like the kind of assessments one offers after the other party is finished laying out their situation. In other words, she took them as you pushing her to wind up and come to a conclusion. Every time you interject something like this the other person feels like, "Hold on! I'm not done yet!" You have to wait till you're absolutely certain they're completely done before you feed back your sympathetic remarks. Otherwise it seems like you're trying to cut the venting short.
Well, the story was more "and this happened... then this... so I did that... and then she said... so I had to..." So, there wasn't an ending in particular (i.e. a conclusion to wait for) it was more a list of things that seemed to annoy her.

Hmm, "this conversation is a lot of work, I want to hang up now" doesn't necessarily imply that you were the problem, Flex. Venting can consume quite a bit of energy while one goes through the rollercoaster of emotions associated with the events being processed. It's possible she was tired of verbally processing and needed to rest. Did she say anything else that led you to believe she was dissatisfied with your input?
Well, to be fair, we got disconnected when she stopped at the ATM. But yes, her words were (almost verbatim) "I called you so I could vent and you keep asking me questions." She might even have used the phrase "second guess" but I certainly didn't second guess anything she said or did... I was just curious because it covered an interesting topic.

How old is she, like 15? Sounds like it's her problem of being socially awkward, not yours.
Knock it off. I don't find that funny. She was clearly communicating how she was feeling. I don't see how putting someone down is contributing to this conversation, specifically someone I care about.
 
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Knock it off. I don't find that funny. She was clearly communicating how she was feeling. I don't see how putting someone down is contributing to this conversation, specifically someone I care about.
I'm not putting her down, I'm saying that what she said sounded like an immature way to end a telephone conversation, and it looks like the problem is with her communication skills.
Also, you didn't make it sound like you cared very much for this girl in your original post, so I was under the impression it was just some girl.
 

Dembadon

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...

Well, to be fair, we got disconnected when she stopped at the ATM. But yes, her words were (almost verbatim) "I called you so I could vent and you keep asking me questions." She might even have used the phrase "second guess" but I certainly didn't second guess anything she said or did... I was just curious because it covered an interesting topic.

...
The asking questions part is where I've gone wrong in the past. I'm not a verbal processor so I can't fully relate to someone who is, but what I've been told is the purpose of venting is to "get out" as much as possible. Asking questions causes them to stop and think about what they're talking about, which interrupts the "momentum" so-to-speak. During a venting session, I believe a live body1 on the other end is better than an active/interactive listener. After she's cooled down a bit, she might be more open to going into the details.

1 Someone who is only listening, perhaps with a few, "umhmm, yeah, yikes, okay, etc." interjected to show you're listening. I know you probably want to show you care about what she's going through, but you'll have time to do that later if necessary.
 

Choppy

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I don't think we could really assess whether you're doing anything right or wrong based on a short description. Also, listening and being genuinely supportive of someone experiencing a tough time isn't something that there's necessarily a single right way to do. Remember though, that the simple fact that she is confiding in you is an act of trust on her part.
 

FlexGunship

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I'm thinking these remarks must have sounded like the kind of assessments one offers after the other party is finished laying out their situation. In other words, she took them as you pushing her to wind up and come to a conclusion. Every time you interject something like this the other person feels like, "Hold on! I'm not done yet!" You have to wait till you're absolutely certain they're completely done before you feed back your sympathetic remarks. Otherwise it seems like you're trying to cut the venting short.
The asking questions part is where I've gone wrong in the past. I'm not a verbal processor so I can't fully relate to someone who is, but what I've been told is the purpose of venting is to "get out" as much as possible. Asking questions causes them to stop and think about what they're talking about, which interrupts the "momentum" so-to-speak. During a venting session, I believe a live body1 on the other end is better than an active/interactive listener. After she's cooled down a bit, she might be more open to going into the details.

1 Someone who is only listening, perhaps with a few, "umhmm, yeah, yikes, okay, etc." interjected to show you're listening. I know you probably want to show you care about what she's going through, but you'll have time to do that later if necessary.
I think these two points are very similar and are probably closest to correct. I'm going to work on this skill until I'm a master at it.

Someone vent to me so I can practice.
 

Ben Niehoff

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Well, the story was more "and this happened... then this... so I did that... and then she said... so I had to..." So, there wasn't an ending in particular (i.e. a conclusion to wait for) it was more a list of things that seemed to annoy her.
If someone starts to ramble at me like this, I ask them to get to the point. I don't care if they're female.
 

Dembadon

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If someone starts to ramble at me like this, I ask them to get to the point. I don't care if they're female.
That's the thing, though. They don't have a point, nor is the goal to arrive at any specific conclusion about the events being "discussed". People process the events of their day in different ways; venting being the preferred method for certain personality types.
 
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I think these two points are very similar and are probably closest to correct. I'm going to work on this skill until I'm a master at it.

Someone vent to me so I can practice.
I'm not going to vent, but I'll tell you a story:

Many years ago when I lived in Minneapolis I had this girlfriend. There were no mobile phones in those days so often when you called someone's house someone else would answer and it would turn out the person you wanted was out. So, often this girl's mother would answer, and if the girl wasn't there, the mother would talk my ear off about her life. I might have to sit there for 45 minutes to an hour, not saying anything, till she ran out of steam.

Later my girlfriend reported to me that her mother said she really liked me, specifically saying, "He's SO intelligent!"
 

collinsmark

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This video might not apply to your situation directly, Flex. But some of the details you described reminded me of the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTqiVOpu5KQ
 
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First, one minor comment on this remark:

Okay, I've learned the whole "girls don't need you to solve their problems, they just want to vent/be empowered" thing. But the problem I have is that I sometimes get genuinely interested.
This sounds slightly misogynistic...

I'd just like to point out that it's not only women who need to vent and when we do vent, it's not necessarily to be empowered or not. The fact is, social interactions are complex in general and gender stereotypes, like any stereotype, ARE based in reality but often lead to more confusion and trouble than they're worth. I know you really weren't trying to say anything offensive, I'm just pointing it out. I think if you could reread what you wrote and appreciate that you made a bit too many assumptions about women, venting and the desired levels of interest a person wants from another you might see how your assumptions somewhat explain your confusion.

On venting in general... as some have already pointed out, sometimes the purpose of venting is literally just to vent. As venter myself, the truth is, I would probably vent to a wall if I the wall was capable remembering my vents. Sometimes, I just want someone to realize how douchey person X is, and when they're douchey again, I'll want to vent about it again. There's no problem to be solved, there's nothing empowering about it, and frankly, if someone was genuinely interested in person X's douchiness that'd be weird to me and would seem fake.

There are hundreds of issues that fall into this realm of venting. Having a crappy job, annoying government offices and employees, most things relating to family members... There's literally nothing for the listener to do but listen and make sympathetic noises. Asking questions is inappropriate because there's no point in asking questions. There's nothing to be learned, because I'm already giving you all the details you need... because the point is for you to come to the same conclusion as me and then sympathize. That's it. Sometimes, maybe, at the very end, AFTER I've vented, then I'll go into problem solving mode and THEN I'll be interested in advice, perspective, introspective questions, etc.
 

WannabeNewton

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Just drift off if you get too interested. Think about Breaking Bad or something, it works like a charm.
 

Intrastellar

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First, one minor comment on this remark:



This sounds slightly misogynistic...

I'd just like to point out that it's not only women who need to vent and when we do vent, it's not necessarily to be empowered or not. The fact is, social interactions are complex in general and gender stereotypes, like any stereotype, ARE based in reality but often lead to more confusion and trouble than they're worth. I know you really weren't trying to say anything offensive, I'm just pointing it out. I think if you could reread what you wrote and appreciate that you made a bit too many assumptions about women, venting and the desired levels of interest a person wants from another you might see how your assumptions somewhat explain your confusion.

On venting in general... as some have already pointed out, sometimes the purpose of venting is literally just to vent. As venter myself, the truth is, I would probably vent to a wall if I the wall was capable remembering my vents. Sometimes, I just want someone to realize how douchey person X is, and when they're douchey again, I'll want to vent about it again. There's no problem to be solved, there's nothing empowering about it, and frankly, if someone was genuinely interested in person X's douchiness that'd be weird to me and would seem fake.

There are hundreds of issues that fall into this realm of venting. Having a crappy job, annoying government offices and employees, most things relating to family members... There's literally nothing for the listener to do but listen and make sympathetic noises. Asking questions is inappropriate because there's no point in asking questions. There's nothing to be learned, because I'm already giving you all the details you need... because the point is for you to come to the same conclusion as me and then sympathize. That's it. Sometimes, maybe, at the very end, AFTER I've vented, then I'll go into problem solving mode and THEN I'll be interested in advice, perspective, introspective questions, etc.
Are you venting Gale? I'm not too good at listening. Sorry.
 
639
2
Are you venting Gale? I'm not too good at listening. Sorry.
Hahaha that wasn't a vent. But if it was, you're just supposed to say "Gee, so true." then pause and see if I keep going.
 
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This sounds slightly misogynistic...
It is the insight into the female psyche offered by the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

According to the author, nothing creates more friction between men and women than men not understanding that women aren't laying out their problems to have them solved, and women not understanding that when men lay out their problems they're asking for a good solution.

So, it's ironic you find Flex's attempt to be evolved misogynistic.

(Incidentally, I posted some new drawings for you in my thread after your last drive-by posting.)
 
639
2
It is the insight into the female psyche offered by the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

According to the author, nothing creates more friction between men and women than men not understanding that women aren't laying out their problems to have them solved, and women not understanding that when men lay out their problems they're asking for a good solution.

So, it's ironic you find Flex's attempt to be evolved misogynistic.

(Incidentally, I posted some new drawings for you in my thread after your last drive-by posting.)
Yes, I know there have been a lot of attempts to help men and women realize and appreciate the differences between our genders, but the way the OP stated it is why we're still not quite there when it comes to "gender equality"... (a term I have qualms with anyway.)

My point is just that some PEOPLE want solutions, some don't. And assuming too much is based purely on gender is probably not a good way to really understand someone. Appreciate that it's possible that she's venting? Yes. Assume it's because she's female? ehhh.... not the best plan. Assume that "genuine interest" is contrary to what she wanted because she was "venting as females tend to do" is definitely not productive. I didn't want to tear the OP apart or anything, just pointing out that it was a bit off target, imo.

Frankly, all human interaction is taxing, so kudos to anyone trying to figure it out!


(btw- I did see the drawings. I was lurking back then so I didn't reply. But they're as awesome as always! You're the best!!)
 

lisab

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Nice to see you here again, Gale!
 

D H

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First, one minor comment on this remark:



This sounds slightly misogynistic...

I'd just like to point out that it's not only women who need to vent and when we do vent, it's not necessarily to be empowered or not. The fact is, social interactions are complex in general and gender stereotypes, like any stereotype, ARE based in reality but often lead to more confusion and trouble than they're worth. I know you really weren't trying to say anything offensive, I'm just pointing it out. I think if you could reread what you wrote and appreciate that you made a bit too many assumptions about women, venting and the desired levels of interest a person wants from another you might see how your assumptions somewhat explain your confusion.

On venting in general... as some have already pointed out, sometimes the purpose of venting is literally just to vent. As venter myself, the truth is, I would probably vent to a wall if I the wall was capable remembering my vents. Sometimes, I just want someone to realize how douchey person X is, and when they're douchey again, I'll want to vent about it again. There's no problem to be solved, there's nothing empowering about it, and frankly, if someone was genuinely interested in person X's douchiness that'd be weird to me and would seem fake.

There are hundreds of issues that fall into this realm of venting. Having a crappy job, annoying government offices and employees, most things relating to family members... There's literally nothing for the listener to do but listen and make sympathetic noises. Asking questions is inappropriate because there's no point in asking questions. There's nothing to be learned, because I'm already giving you all the details you need... because the point is for you to come to the same conclusion as me and then sympathize. That's it. Sometimes, maybe, at the very end, AFTER I've vented, then I'll go into problem solving mode and THEN I'll be interested in advice, perspective, introspective questions, etc.
Gee, so true!


------------------------------------------------------------------------


My wife and I have venting down to an art. Spouse A calls spouse B: "Honey, I need to vent." Spouse B inevitable says "Was it something I did?" If the answer is "No. I just need to vent", it means that spouse A just needs to vent. Spouse B kindly listens.

There's lots to vent about in this modern age. A call to the computer helpless desk yields no help. A call to a billing agency that has off-shored everything to some country in which English is a second language and the off-shore personnel are powerless to solve problems. A call to some local mindless bureaucrat whose job should have been off-shored to that same country. Being stuck on hold for over an hour only to result in no solution to the problem at hand.

"Arggh! I need to vent!"
 

OmCheeto

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I would share my thoughts on venting, but I'm old, and really tired of listening to people vent, and tell them to shut the hell up....

And then I vent........

:blushing:
 

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