2. Ask yourself, are you a doer or a talker? Some people talk to solve problems and some people talk to understand problems. Solving problems is action-oriented; when you're in this place you're doing something. Understanding problems is much more passive and doesn't necessarily involve any action other than talking. Ask yourself which role you're in so you can understand who is best to talk to.
3. Always be mindful of your audience. If you're in an action place, you want to talk with people who can help you do things, not someone who is going to encourage you to talk more. In reverse, if you're in an understanding place, you want to talk with people who will encourage (and not judge) your need to talk. A complete mismatch happens when problem-solvers talk too deeply or for too long with a problem-explorer.
4. Tell people what you need: "I need to vent, complain, moan & groan" or "I need to toss this idea around and get your opinion on my solution." Alerting your audience about what you need can save everyone a lot of time and energy.
5. Listen for shifts in the conversation. Sometimes people can get tired of hearing how unhappy you are. Their positive feelings for you will shift them into an action role because they want you to be happy and they've come to realize that talking isn't making it any better. If you're ready to move into action with them, great. If you're not ready, it's time to end the conversation and find someone more appropriate to talk to.
6. People who love you want to fix things to make you happy. They can't help it; they just love you. But, recognize that it can be somewhat of a challenge for family, friends and spouses when you just want to talk and they want you to "do".
7. People who love you are also biased and have LONG memories. If you've complained about your partner/spouse or some event repeatedly, they will remember and find it hard to forget. Their past experience will color their advice and their ability to listen with an open mind. When this happens, it's helpful to get objective, unbiased opinions like from a counselor or coach. Just be careful that the people you choose to talk with are trustworthy. Don't just pick anyone, be smart about it.
If you find that you're stuck in this cycle of complaining and not taking action, it's time to find out why. Set yourself a realistic goal for changing your situation. Decide what is acceptable and iron out your deal breakers. There's nothing wrong with a little moaning and groaning here and there, it's only a problem only when it becomes a habit.
Follow Melanie Gorman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/melanie360
Originally published on The Huffington Post.