Venting – Up, Sideways or Not At All

Everyone experiences frustration in their jobs at one time or another, especially when timelines are crunched or assignments and tasks start piling up. You may want and need to vent. Be mindful of who you vent your frustrations to. However, before you vent to anyone, take time to do two things:

1. Figure out what is causing your frustration. It will generally fall within these


  • Learning curve
  • Workload
  • Lack of direction from supervisor or manager
  • Lack of cooperation from co-workers
  • Processes and procedures not clear
  • Systems too complicated or don’t work
  • Personal situation is overwhelming

2. Ask for assistance or guidance.

Understanding the source of your frustration will go a long way towards helping you get your challenges resolved.

Asking for help shows professional maturity. Venting without having taken the time to understand the source of your frustration or having asked for help will make you look like a whiner who can’t handle pressure or function in the real world.

Having said that, to whom should you vent?

Generally, it is probably a good idea to either vent up or to a peer. But tread carefully here, especially if you are new to the company or in a junior or entry level position. Venting can be risky to your reputation and how you are perceived within your department or the company.

If the company you work for has an “Open Door Policy” or you have a great relationship with your boss, then occasionally sharing challenges and frustrations may be appropriate.

However, consistently using your manager as an outlet to express aggravations only adds to your boss’s problems. They may start to view you as not being able to effectively handle challenges in your role and it could potentially affect how you are evaluated in your performance reviews.

If you are in a supervisory role, make it a point to vent up or to a peer, not to a subordinate. The key is knowing when you have a problem that needs solving or do you just want to vent. Ask yourself is this something my boss needs to be involved in, or is it something I can handle on my own?

Most bosses would welcome not being involved in every challenge and gladly allow their employees to resolve their own issues.

One way to gauge whether it is something to take to your boss is whether the situation will effect your boss’s boss. If it will, it is definitely not something you should handle yourself.

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