We need to do more than listen and pay attention to the people in our lives in order to be connected to them. We need to learn to validate them. Validating is a skill/practice, and you can do this! When you practice validating others, you have the potential to improve every single relationship in your life! Imagine how that will make your life easier and more enjoyable! For more on validation I highly recommend the book I Hear You by Michael Sorensen. Let me introduce you to the basics of validation. Everyone wants to feel accepted, appreciated, and understood. Validation helps us give that feeling to others. Imagine yourself as someone who has what everyone else wants. How does that make you feel? Makes me feel pretty special.
Okay, here’s what validation is in a nutshell. It is identifying how someone feels, and giving justification for that feeling. For example: “I get that you’re upset. If my boss had done that to me, I’d be upset too!” Validation allows you to connect emotionally. That’s what we want. Most of the time we don’t want advice; we don’t want someone to fix our problem; we want to feel heard and understood. We want someone to know this is hard, or this is exciting, or I feel lost, or I feel like I have achieved something very important.
When someone is sharing with you, match their energy. That means that if they are excited, don’t sit there calmly and say “I understand that you are excited.” Act excited! Let your voice get excited. Show some excitement yourself. You know if someone is too calm when you’re excited it just makes you feel disconnected. You want someone to share your moment with you, not watch from the sidelines. If someone is sad, show her you understand. ay, “Amy, that is so sad. I would be sad too, if I just lost my ___. Ugh.” And once again, do not try to fix it.
Give the person you are validating your full attention. Put down your phone. Act like you are listening and seeing things from her perspective. Withhold judgment. Don’t offer unsolicited advice/assurance. Don’t try to fix it. The more you validate, the deeper your connection will become. When someone does come to you for advice, she will be much more likely to hear and consider what you are telling her, because she feels that you have heard and understood her.