I recently had a conversation with a friend who was very upset with a couple of people whom she's close to in her life. Being a very talented problem solver, I started trying to share some ideas about ways to solve the conflicts without trying to change the other person.
She got even more upset - probably because she was venting not problem solving and I was wrecking her vent with solutions. The thing is, she had already told me about these problems multiple times and in my mind the venting wasn't doing either of us any good.
My responsibility that I lost track of in that conversation because I was trying to please her, was my responsibility to myself. Once I realized she wasn't in a problem-solving mood, I could have just excused myself politely from the conversation. But because I care about her and knew there were some easy solutions that would take her out of her upset, I foolishly tried to convince her to problem solve.
What a waste of time that was! I ended by apologizing for my foolishness and made a mental note to at least remember to ask people who are venting, if they want me to help them problem-solve or not.
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