I define validation as the art of understanding, sympathizing and caring for the feelings of others by using honest and truthful actions and words. It has the power to knit hearts together and gives a sense of unity when done correctly.
Let me emphasize that validation has nothing to do with agreement, it is possible to totally disagree with someone but still validate their opinion. Disagreements will inevitably happen when two or more gather together. A friend of mine said it best ‘if two individuals are constantly in agreement, one of them is lying.’ A healthy relationship will always give you the freedom to disagree.
Here are some tips I’ve been learning about validation:
The goal of repetition is to show the other person that we are listening and understanding properly what’s being said.
We can say things like: ‘I understand that you need _’ or ‘You mentioned that you_’.
It’s okay to ask questions. We should never walk away from a conversation without understanding what was said.
Use questions like; ‘What did you mean by_?’, ‘Could you reword that so I can understand it better?’ or ‘Could you repeat that?’
We can also use the previous tip, repeat followed by a question, e.g. ‘When you said _, did you mean _?
‘What could I have done better?’, ‘How can I help you to fix this?’ and ‘What can I do to help us solve this?’ are wonderful questions that show that we care about the person communicating. These questions show no defense, excuse or retaliation, on the contrary, they offer a helping hand. When someone is communicating something important to them, an offer of help can be music to their ears.
You can use the previous tip, repeat + offer resolution.
Important note: Some people tend to simply want to talk about their day, work, or the kids, they are not looking for resolution (or fixing) while sharing. If we are unsure of what they need, ask something like “I understand this is bothering you, would you like me to simply listen or would you like some personal advice?
Use: ‘I’m very sorry that you feel that way’, ‘I’m sorry that we are going through this’ or ‘It breaks my heart that you feel that way.’
Even though we might not agree with what’s being said and not share the same emotions, feelings are what they are and it’s okay for us to show sympathy and comfort.
Take time out
It can be tricky to validate someone when they are emotional, hostile or angry. It makes it even more challenging when we are not comfortable during the conversation. When that happens, take time out (more than once if necessary). By doing so, it will help you to regain balance and will also give the other person time to recollect their thoughts.
The best way to validate them while taking a time out is by saying something like; “I understand that you feel emotional (frustrated or sad) about _. I really care about you and what you have to say, but I’m not feeling comfortable with the way our conversation is going. Let’s take a 15 minute break (or more if the conversation is heated), then we can come back together and try talking again.”
Time out can aggravate the situation if used to shut the other person out or to prepare for more retaliation. If used wisely, to calm down and bring resolution, it can be the best tool ever!
Note: During the time out, I go through my forgiveness steps, specially if I’m offended and hurt. Forgiving helps me to go back to the conversation with a more positive attitude.
Our communication can improve when we are intentional about it. It doesn’t happen naturally and it’s a lot of work. If we validate others, our chances of success are higher than if we don’t, so why not give it a try?
Thanks so much for reading. Have a beautiful week!
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1