“My client keeps “reporting” and “venting” and I don’t want to interrupt them, but maybe I should?”
Reporting is generally not useful in coaching when it goes on and on. Instead of telling clients to stop reporting, what I do is ask them about it. E.g. : I noticed that you are telling me a lot about what happened and I want to make sure we are staying consistent with your goal of attaining ____________ , what are your thoughts on that?” Usually, people realize they don’t want to be reporting so I ask them how I can be helpful to them to stay on task. This is good because if they tell me to point out that they are veering into reporting, when I do point this out to them, I am doing it because they asked me to and not because I have a negative judgment about it and this feels really respectful to clients.
In terms of venting, it can be helpful for clients to vent and get feelings and experiences off their chest, and I let my clients do this until I feel they have “cleared” the emotion and are ready to move forward. But venting is pretty close to complaining and great coaches invite their clients to do some thinking about how even their negative experiences (and sometimes especially their negative experiences) can be reframed as springboards for some great thinking about the future, which includes lessons learned. One of my “negative experiences” was being involved in a restaurant that failed. I remember working with my coach on moving forward and she asked me “What is the perfection in this?” It took me a minute to understand what she was asking me. My first reaction was “What do mean what was the perfection in this? Are you nuts?” but then I realized she was asking me to see what I had learned from this experience and in reality, I had learned so much from this experience that I realized it was precisely this experience that helped me move my career as a coach trainer forward. So the point is, go ahead and let your clients vent, but then invite them to reflect on the “negative” experience and extract learning lessons from it and use those as a springboard for the future. Relevant questions may be “What did you learn from that experience?” and “How can you use this knowledge to further your vision and life mission?”