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I'm bad at listening to girls vent

  1. Aug 30, 2013 #1

    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.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2013 #2

    dlgoff

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    Are you venting Flex? I'm not too good at listing. Sorry.
     
  4. Aug 30, 2013 #3
    Damn! I scroll down and you've already taken the best response!
     
  5. Aug 30, 2013 #4

    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.
     
  6. Aug 30, 2013 #5
    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.
     
  7. Aug 30, 2013 #6

    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?
     
  8. Aug 30, 2013 #7
    How old is she, like 15? Sounds like it's her problem of being socially awkward, not yours.
     
  9. Aug 30, 2013 #8

    FlexGunship

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    Could be. Her situation wasn't something that she needed to act on. Just a difficult client.

    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.

    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.

    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.
     
  10. Aug 30, 2013 #9
    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.
     
  11. Aug 30, 2013 #10

    Dembadon

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    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.
     
  12. Aug 30, 2013 #11

    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.
     
  13. Aug 30, 2013 #12

    FlexGunship

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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.
     
  14. Aug 30, 2013 #13

    Ben Niehoff

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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.
     
  15. Aug 30, 2013 #14

    Dembadon

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    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.
     
  16. Aug 30, 2013 #15
    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!"
     
  17. Aug 30, 2013 #16

    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
     
  18. Aug 30, 2013 #17
    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.
     
  19. Aug 30, 2013 #18

    WannabeNewton

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    Just drift off if you get too interested. Think about Breaking Bad or something, it works like a charm.
     
  20. Aug 30, 2013 #19

    Intrastellar

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    Are you venting Gale? I'm not too good at listening. Sorry.
     
  21. Aug 30, 2013 #20
    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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