Thinking and Emotions are two different languages that humans speak.
We all speak both, but some of us are much more fluent in one over the other. I am quite fluent in thinking, but emotions I’m not as good at. I don’t experience them as strongly, I don’t understand others as well, so I have to do much more work to hear in a conversation in emotional language or recognize the language I’m speaking emotionally to others and how it’s being received.
Thinking – primary mediums would be logic, argument, sentences, words
Emotions – primary mediums would be crying, laughter, listening, body language, eye contact, touch
Now venting is a fascinating thing. Because it is using a medium of Thinking but really it’s really operating as an Emotion.
I have friends who are venters. Different situations trigger a good vent. But a vent I realized is much more common with feelers than thinkers (more on what I’d suggest a thinkers vent looks like later). Venting is a tirade of strong feelings, usually making very strong accusations, insults and assumptions about another person or situation. My feeler friends tell me that it is absolutely necessary for them to unload all these feelings in a safe place. Most venters know that they are not operating in a thinking mode with venting, none of them are suggesting that it is logical. Which means that venting is very tricky to be on the other end of, especially if you are primarily a thinker.
See, venting is a coping mechanism for emotions, but it is using a medium that is generally saved for thinking.
For example, my friend needs to vent to me about a person at work who screwed her over. She’s doing this as a coping mechanism for her emotions – but she’s speaking to me using sentences and formulating words together to make an argument. But really what she wants is for me to just listen, maybe make eye contact, maybe put a hand on the shoulder and be completely engaged in the emotional aspect of what is going on. The problem is, as someone who is generally in default mode of thinking – I am hearing sentences and I am thinking I am engaging in a thinking act. So I start thinking about arguments as well. Well, did she really mean to do that? Is there more to the story? Have you tried to fix it like this? These are all thinking responses, which are absolute disastrous responses to emotional venting. I shouldn’t be responding like this at all, because what’s being offered is an emotional act. Venting is a trick for someone like me because it takes me into a world that seems like we are trying to solve a problem together when really all I need to do is give a hug and listen.
So I need to recognize that even though the medium of thinking is being invoked, it’s actually still entirely the language of emotion and engage appropriately.
This should also means that if someone needs to vent – they should preface these vents to a thinker with a warning of sorts to let them know that they are not entering into a thinking conversation at any level, even though sentences and logic and words are being used that sound exactly like a thinking conversation would go. Give us a break!
For a thinkers and feelers to be in relationship with each other there should be a lot more warnings from each side to prepare the other for a situation in which their default approach won’t help them understand the situation properly.
Next up: How thinkers vent.