« We lose in every way when we lose trust | Main | Management and information: the broken connection »

Civility on the bad days… with whom do you vent?

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable.
Big things, little things.
You’ll never be in perfect agreement with all the people in your workplace. You know you should manage your irritation. What if you’re having a really uncivil day?

Where do you go?
Certainly it must be someone
• who has earned your trust,
• who is a willing listener and
• with whom you can have an honest discussion and that means you may not hear exactly what you want to hear.

It may be a friend in your office, a workplace spouse, if you are sure of the confidence level. Some people plant rumors to see how quickly and where they’ll move to test the confidence level. If your office really is a dysfunctional workplace, venting to coworkers can only exacerbate the problem.

Spouses and partners may be helpful but tire of it all and tend to sympathize too much.

Look for a good confessor, a soul mate or wise counsel
Look for someone outside your box on the organizational chart or not in your org chart. Maybe you have a history of working together or mutual experiences. A good candidate is someone who is uninterested in how your office works and doesn’t have reason to judge the participants.

A good mentor may help. Another alternative is a trusted coffee buddy who listens and supports and isn’t afraid to tell you there may be other ways to look at the situation or that your vision is pretty distorted.

Talk through your problem, vent…….and let it go.

With whom do you vent on the bad days?

Study: 25% of Americans have no one to confide in, USA Today

Coauthor of this post: Bill Tysseling is Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce. He was previously Director of Iowa State University Extension Continuing Education and Communication Services.


Venting in the office/workplace is really hard to do, and should always be done behind a closed door, in a quiet speaking voice. I once had a supervisor tell me if I ever needed to "vent" or express "joy" at receiving a raise - I should go into an empty bathroom, lift the lid, vent in the toilet bowl and then flush it away!!! Smile......

I often talk about what a wonderful department I work in. We get along, we have fun, and we are productive. We DO NOT always agree. Infrequently (very infrequently), one of us needs to vent. It is almost magical because the door is closed, the problem (i.e, the person) is talked about, the frustration is so apparent.

The process of venting helps all involved. The ventor releases the emotion, the ventee listens, sometimes challenges.

I have been the ventor and the ventee. The process works because it is confidential. The process often times prevents the emotion from becoming unprofessional outside of that closed door.

Somehow, each employee needs away to vent. The relationship with a ventee is important, but I think that it works in our office because of the level of respect we have with each other.

If the respect was there, then venting to the toilet and flushing maybe the only way to release the emotion.