Logseman said 6 years, 11 months ago:

LISTENING IS NOT TROUBLESHOOTING

Listening to someone’s vent won’t empower you to “solve” the situation that the venter is presenting to you. You’re not going to “fix” anything in BlahTherapy. People do not come to BlahTherapy looking for concrete answers to their questions, even when they think they do. In fact, one of your tasks as a listener is to avoid the troubleshooting mindset. Even if the problem is simple enough that you can detect it and find a solution (which is very unfrequent), you need to try to bring the venter to that state of mind where the venter can find the solution by him/herself. Sometimes it’ll take more prodding, reformulating things, and in general you’ll have to think before you type, which is a good habit.

LISTENING IS NOT QUACKING

Quacking generic platitudes is lazy and disrespectful: people can go to Twitter if they want to read bland self-esteem quotes from Paulo Coelho vomited by a cornucopia of outlets.

Every venter has the potential to absolutely change your way of thinking: from the mundane quandaries to the unthinkable crimes, anything can be typed (and possibly has been!). Therefore you should be always ready to support the advice that you give, to have it well researched in case someone asks good questions and to be able to present it convincingly to different audiences. It sounds daunting, but it comes with time.

LISTENING IS NOT DATA MINING

People can come to Blah in a multitude of mind states: from “bored” to “absolutely desperate and naïve”. Some people, particularly if your chat went well, are ready to trust you with very sensitive data about themselves. Do never abuse the trust that your venters give you, and keep your contact confidential and clean. BlahTherapy is not a place to score.

LISTENING IS EMPOWERING

As an individual, listening implies gaining insight on someone else’s life. It’s a fully consensual transaction of information: information is power, and the person you’re listening to is willing to not only provide information about him/herself, but to act on your advice. You, individually, can potentially shape up someone else’s views on a topic absolutely.

However, by giving good advice you’re also strengthening the other party: armed with good reasons and better intentions, they can be inspired to change their lives for the better, and in ways that you could not anticipate from your chat.

Humanist Hope said 6 years, 11 months ago:

You could relatively easily polish this into a Listening Do’s and Don’ts.

Would you mind? It’d be a great addition.

Captain Patchwork said 6 years, 11 months ago:

Listening is hearing what they have to say and responding accordingly. So what the hell do you mean it’s not trying to fix their problem? This is a therapy website where people go to get help with shit bothering them. They need advice, not your watered down, feel-good, bland, self-important, first year psychology major type bullshit.

Listening isn’t trying to fix their problem, providing motivation, or learning more about them; it’s this fourth thing I have completely failed to describe adequately. Gold star for you.

ImnotMatt said 6 years, 11 months ago:

Yep. Most people just want to talk and providing the proper feedback and encouragement.

In my experience a lot of people I’ve spoken to just wanted to give out random advice that they knew nothing about anyway.

Shelbs said 6 years, 11 months ago:

I agree. However, some people come for answers as the listener you’re the one they’re telling the story to. You need to answer their questions.

Levi-UR said 6 years, 11 months ago:

@shelbsx3 more often then not people know the answers to their ow questions. Even in the cases that they don’t it is better to help them arrive at a conclusion then feed them the answer. I could wax poetic about the advantages of this approach but it comes down to 3 things. 1. only they know all the facts about their own life. Even if they try to say everything there will always be something left out of the listeners knowledge. 2. It keeps the focus on the venter and prevents the listener from shifting roles accidentally. 3. they are more likely to follow through with the answer because they gave it, it is their own logic not alien ideas explained to them.

Humanist Hope said 6 years, 11 months ago:

It is absolutely true that Listeners should assist Venters in coming to their own conclusions wherever possible, but BlahTherapy is not a primer for Med School; online peer-counseling is not beholden to the same rules as conventional therapy.

As Listeners, we provide our individual perspective, whatever that may be,not a professional opinion. We are not therapists, we are peers.

That fact is the heart and soul of BlahTherapy: ask an equal stranger. They might be a licensed therapist or a sociopath. Perspective is perspective, and as long as the message is positive and empowering, it is allowed: BlahTherapy is not the place for hate-speech or misguided “tough love”.

Understand: tough love is only a half-step apart from abuse.

But I digress. People do come to BlahTherapy looking for answers, Listeners are openly encouraged to admit when they are out of their depth, and to refer the Venter to the paid professional service, or any other means of professional psychological assistance, if the issue merits it.

If a Listener feels they understand an issue, they are encouraged to respond.