We have all felt a range of emotions and needed someone to talk to to help us make sense of the madness. From work to family and other obligations, life can become overly stressful.

When frustrations begin to arise, talking to a friend, family member, or even a co-worker can help relieve the stress. But how can you know when the conversation involves venting or complaining? What is the difference?

Unfortunately, the thin line between venting and complaining is easy to cross.

Understanding the differences between the two conversation styles will help you know when you are venting and when you have crossed the line into complaining, which could be perceived as negative or even harmful in some situations, especially in the workplace.

man and woman having a talk

What Are the Differences Between Venting and Complaining?

Some people may think the two are synonymous, but there are some key differences you must be aware of when talking to others. Think about the following.

Venting

Venting can be seen as a quick release. You are telling someone how you feel about a situation so you can release the anger and move on with your day.

A good venting session, especially when held with an objective person, can help you release your immediate anger and see the situation from an outside perspective.

Venting is healthy for you and prevents you from suppressing anger that could build up and cause you to act inappropriately.

Complaining

Complaining is unhealthy and unfruitful. Most people complain when they feel powerless to change a situation. If you vent with coworkers, for instance, you can experience a beneficial outcome.

Complaining can cause decreased morale and can even lead to resentment and avoidance. No one wants to be around someone who is constantly negative.

Everyone is guilty of complaining. We all do it, and many of us don’t realize how much we do it daily. Complaining often stems from childishness. It is almost like a gut reaction that we later regret.

stop complaining sign

Signs You Are Complaining Too Often

How can you know if you are complaining too much to family, friends, and co-workers? Paying attention to your daily communication with others can be quite revealing.

Determine what percentage of your daily conversation revolves around complaining.

Look at the following signs. If you recognize yourself in these, you may need to reevaluate your communication style.

  • You frequently find yourself speaking negatively but never offering any solutions to the problem or trying to pursue a better way.
  • You often dwell on the past and become angry again over things that have occurred.
  • You often feel regret and wish you could go and make changes to the past.
  • You suffer from bouts of anxiety over situations that make you feel powerless.
  • After complaining, you feel irritable and cannot seem to think objectively.
  • You frequently have a poor attitude about life.
  • When you talk about your problems with others, it just makes you feel powerless and angry.

Do any of these sound familiar? If you exhibit a lot of negativity, you may have discovered that people seem to avoid you.

If you push everyone away, you are not going to have a support system in place, which can lead to higher levels of stress and poor coping ability.

sad adult man complaining in a park

How to Stop Complaining and Move to Venting

Complaining benefits no one. Once you have been made aware of your complaining issues, there are ways to combat the urge to complain and vent instead.

Consider the following to help you stop complaining and move to venting instead.

Exercising Helps!

Exercising is a beneficial way of getting rid of anger and frustration without needing to get anyone else involved. Increasing your heart rate with exercise increases endorphins, which will make you feel more at peace.

While exercise will not solve all your complaints, it is a start that can be beneficial.

Face the Problem Head-On

Many people like to avoid negativity, so they avoid problems instead of addressing them. Speaking up about a problem at work or addressing issues with a friend or family member can bring about a resolution without so much stress. If you keep it to yourself, the problem will never be resolved.

Laughter Is Medicine

Laughing at problems helps you release tension and stress without having to complain to others and expel negativity. You don’t necessarily have to laugh about the situation that is bothering you but try to laugh at something to break the tension.

woman laughing at a cell phone

How to Deal With Someone Who Complains Too Much

If you are a constant complainer, you need to rectify the situation. However, it is a bit more challenging to deal with someone else who seems to complain obsessively.

The following are three steps you can take to help someone you know overcome their complaining issues so they are not pushing others away, including yourself.

Validate Their Feelings

Most chronic complainers want to be heard. Listen objectively and then move on. You should not hang around forever, or you will be pulled into their negativity.

Do Not Offer Solutions

Someone who is complaining is not looking for solutions to their problems. If you attempt to offer solutions, they are just going to keep talking until they get you to see things their way. Listen and move on.

Attempt to Change the Subject

If someone constantly complains, changing the subject is sometimes beneficial. Acknowledge what the person said, and then carefully change the subject to a lighter one. Hopefully, the complainer will get the hint.

Venting Is Better For Your Mental Health

Venting is beneficial, but complaining will get you nowhere. If you want to improve your mental health and keep others sane, consider venting instead of complaining.

man complaining with a ticket agent

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