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Helping Vent Frustration

If someone in your life is frustrated, even angry and you want to help them vent their frustration there are two myths that have to be dispelled first:

  1. Venting frustration rarely achieves what we think it does. 
  2. Ranting or hitting a pillow to discharge anger doesn’t work.

What either of these things do is actually embed the pattern of frustration or anger because you are allowing the person to dwell on the emotion, maximising it and thus making it worse.


How to Help Someone Deal With Their Frustration/Anger

  1. Take a small step into their world
  2. Engage them in activities that calm them down


Step into Their World

The first thing you need to do when helping someone is to build rapport. You need to connect with them, get into their headspace and the best way to do that is mirroring. If they are showing signs of agitation the worst thing you can do is sit back looking calm and relaxed because they won’t connect with that so you need to show some signs of agitation too.  Stand up if they are standing, mirror their actions. In this way you are building a rapport on a subconscious level that will help you move on to the next step.


Calm Them Down

You need to engage them in activities that lower their emotional arousal.

  • Listen to them and acknowledge their pain. This automatically has a calming influence.
  • Ask questions that make them engage their rational mind. Literally make them stop and think. When we are emotionally aroused we can’t think clearly so by engaging the rational mind we lower emotion and calm down.  In order to answer your question the person has to step back from the emotion.
  • Encourage them to observe themselves. 7-11 Breathing is perfect for this.
  • Take them out for a walk. Walking with someone is subconscious mirroring; it is a shared activity, moving in the same direction. You can’t have conflict when walking along because people need to stop and confront each other to argue or rant. If you can’t stop and confront then you calm down naturally.

These simple steps really do work so remember, don’t encourage someone to vent their frustration – it isn’t likely to help. Simply build a rapport, listen sympathetically and diffuse their emotional arousal using the techniques listed above.

If you would like more information or get further help with these issues please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.