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.