Over the years, listening to people’s ideas about validation has helped me understand better why difficulties arise between people.
Validation is affirming that a person or a person’s words, thoughts ideas or feelings are important and worthwhile.
Validation can be difficult sometimes, especially when a person is talking about or doing something that you don’t agree with. For people who are “fixers,” (You know who I’m talking about . . . or you are one. You know -- the people who are quick to give advice without thinking about a person’s feelings first. Them.) For fixers, this is amplified even more.
When we don’t feel heard or understood, we have difficulty moving forward and implementing change. This can be challenging if you are in management, parenting or in any kind of relationship.
The first, and probably one of the hardest, is being and remaining present with someone in either physical or emotional form. Remaining Present means staying in the room as they are struggling with difficult emotions. Remaining Present might mean not changing the subject as they are trying to talk about something. Remaining Present could mean putting your phone down during a meeting or your child’s soccer game. I told you it was a hard one.
The next form of validation is simply appearing as though you are listening to someone, also known as “active listening.” It means nodding your head, making eye contact, taking notes, asking questions or reiterating what has been said.
Another way is to validate is to try to understand the other person’s position about a situation. For example, if a co-worker suffers from social anxiety and there is an upcoming mandatory large event at work, you could possibly invite them to attend with you.
Which of the words in the following chart do you use the most?
We all want and deserve validation. We want to be heard and acknowledged and understood. A few simple changes to how we speak and react to people can make a world of difference. What can you try today?
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Terra has 23 years of experience working with adults experiencing life challenges. Her approach when working with others is validating and direct. She gets down to the root of situations quickly and aims to provide clear ways to cope differently. She's worked hard to cultivate resources that help people with stress management. Click here to learn more!