How to Listen to Venting Friends Without Judging Them

Two men listening to a venting friend without judging him

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Friendships are lovely. They come with lots of perks and a person who will be there for you simply because they value you. Friendships also come with responsibility and a bit of work. When times are tough, you need to be there for your friend and vice versa. You can’t expect to enjoy the good times without dealing with some of the bad – nothing is ever that simple.

Sometimes, a friend is the best person to talk to. If there are problems at home, at work or with the kids, an ear to vent to can be great therapy. While not always looking for advice, just voicing your problems to someone you know who cares can do a world of good. The tricky part is when you are on the receiving side, your friend is venting to you, and you don’t really agree with them at all – how are you supposed to remain neutral and not put them in their place?

The way you do something can be completely different to how your friend does it, it may work for you but it doesn’t make you right. Just because she does something differently, doesn’t mean she needs to do it your way. It can also be tough accepting some people’s problems – they can often come across as petty and irritating in the bigger picture, but it doesn’t seem that way to them. In order to be there for your friend and help her through her tough times, you need to learn to listen without judgement.

Being able to just listen is a learned tool. It is much more difficult than one would think. Listening, really listening is such a great tool to learn. Most of us listen to reply and not listen to hear. Spend the time really focussing on what your friend is saying. Listen to help, you may pick up things that she isn’t wanting to say, but hiding behind the surface. By actually listening, you can focus on her emotions and help guide her in the right direction.

Your friend needs to know that you are listening. Don’t interrupt, but ask questions when you can. Ask her “why did you feel that way?” or “what did you do next?” This shows that you want to know more, you aren’t downplaying her problems and that you truly care.

Avoid giving your opinion. They didn’t come to you for your wise words of wisdom, they are venting to you because they trust you with their problems and with their feelings. They are hoping that you won’t judge them, and that bond is something you should respect. By giving them advice or your opinion, you are showing them that you think you know better. Avoid this, they probably won’t want to vent to you again.

It is never easy to understand a situation unless you put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. This is exactly what you need to do with your friend. You might think her problems are petty, or be quick to judge, if you do not understand where she is coming from. She might have a million and one things going on behind the scenes that just compound until this one little problem broke it all open. As a woman and a mom, you should also understand that we have a lot to deal with. Sometimes family and partners don’t always rush out to help us. Everything can become quite overwhelming, so having a friend around who you trust to vent to about silly little things can really, really help.

If you are a more outspoken person, it can be very difficult to not rush to judge your friend. Friendship, just like any other relationship, takes work and it takes compassion. Whether you have to force yourself to practice your listening skills or if you need to make an effort to really be there for your friend – do it. Hopefully they will return the favour one day when you are super overwhelmed and need a friendly, non- judgemental pair of ears to vent to.

Friendships should be treasured and held dear, don’t ruin one by judging and putting yourself above your friends problems.

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