When Our Friends Vent, We Should Listen Instead Of Giving Advice
When someone vented to me in the past, I gave advice and tried to fix the issue that friends were telling me about. I wasn’t really listening but trying to remedy their problems; that was my go-to reaction.
Unfortunately, all my friends needed was to be heard and listened to. They didn’t need me to improve their lives or analyze the situation. They just needed a friend to share their struggles with.
I recognized these patterns and have been working on trying to break them and replace them with something better. I’ve realized I don’t need to fix every problem my friends vent to me about. Instead, I need to listen and hold space for my friends to feel free to express themselves, not tell them what I think they need to do. I still sometimes do this, but I continue working on it.
When that happens, I catch myself and remind myself to listen instead of giving unnecessary advice. I have also been on the other side of this situation with one of my close friends. Sometimes, all we want is to be heard. We don’t need solutions or advice; we just need a friend to be there.
I want to be heard, not be advised on how to fix whatever issue I have.
People, especially us fixers, tend to go into fixer mode and come up with solutions and advice when someone is venting to us. We usually do this because it’s normal for fixers. It is our automatic response. But it shouldn’t be since we’re doing a disservice to the people in our lives.
When we go into that autopilot fixer mode, we aren’t holding space for those who come to us and vent about what they’re going through. If we give advice instead of listening, people will slowly stop coming to us because they know what to expect from us. Instead, they will go to someone who will respond differently, more personably.
So listen to your close friends and loved ones. Only offer them advice when it’s something they genuinely asked for. Other than that, listen and be present in the moment.
While giving advice can be helpful, it’s important to remember there is a time and place for doing this. When someone asks for advice, giving it to them is OK. But try not to go into fixer mode when not asked to.
Fixers like myself must reevaluate this behavior and adjust it. Being there for the people in our lives is essential, and listening is a huge part. If more fixers would do this, their relationships would improve and grow. They would see they can still be there for those around them without fixing their problems. And that will make more people comfortable with coming to them for advice.
So, if you’re a fixer like me, try working on listening instead of giving advice. While it might be hard to do in the beginning, it will significantly improve your relationships.