Stop workplace rants (video transcript)

Do you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is venting to you and you want to be nice, but you also want to get back to work?

Here are three quick lines that you can pull out of your back pocket anytime someone is venting and you need to move along.

1) “What do you need?”

The first scenario is one where someone is venting to you how they feel, and they’re telling you everything they’re worried about and what’s not working, but without explaining what would actually make things better.

In this case, the simple little line is just, “What do you need?”. This line is so effective because it makes them stop and pause to actually evaluate things themselves and consider what they could do to make things better.

2) “Where from here?”

The second scenario is where someone is droning on about the past, and they’re stuck thinking about everything that’s come before.

The line in this case is “Where from here?”

In saying this, you avoid debating what happened or taking sides in some past argument, and instead you help the person figure out how to move on today.

3) “What’s left?”

The third line is for when people keep providing excuses and reasons why something won’t work or why they can’t move forward, and you need to get them unstuck and onto something that they can actually do to make progress.

In this case, the line is “What do we still need to solve for?” or even just “What’s left?”

This is a way of avoiding putting too much focus on what doesn’t work, and instead focusing on what they still have to solve for to be able to move forward.

Each of these lines has the same idea behind it.

One, to not invalidate or argue with someone who feels like they’re not in a winning situation. Don’t fight with them as it will only increase and prolong their frustration.

Secondly, by keeping things short you avoid provoking defensiveness in the other person.

Finally, these techniques make sure that you don’t assume accountability for those problems. These are not your problems to solve.

These great back pocket lines are ideal for when somebody’s venting to you and you want to be a good teammate, but you also want to move things along.

More on this

When Your Teammate Needs to Vent

4 alternatives to throwing your teammate under the bus

Are you lending support to a teammate or just enabling gossip?