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Validating your way to healthy relationships


Would you like to create an atmosphere of harmony within your relationships? How would it feel to confront problems with peace and acceptance instead of frustration and worry? Validation is a key that can unlock the door to open communication and trust within relationships.

The term validation is often associated with the idea of acceptance and encouraging a behavior. In reality, validation does not mean that you agree with what the other person is saying or doing, but that you are recognizing their emotional experience and acknowledging their point of view. In fact, a part of the definition of validation is to “make somebody feel valued”. If someone feels valued then they are certainly going to experience a higher state of well-being which leads to a more fulfilled life.

A natural human response to hearing a problem (believed to have an obvious answer) is to give a solution or to challenge them so they may understand the insignificance of the situation. The truth is, though, when someone comes to you with a problem, they are typically not looking for advice or problem-solving unless they specifically ask for it. Rather, they are looking for validation. When someone’s feelings are validated, they are more likely to find a solution to the problem on their own.

If you are not used to validating, here are some suggestions. There is no greater way to set a person at ease.

Steps to Validating

  1. Show interest – using verbal and non-verbal cues (nodding, eye contact, verbal replies such as “uh-huh” and “what else are you feeling?”)

  2. Reflect – After truly paying attention to what your loved one is saying, give a short summary of what they have expressed. Don’t forget to ask if you got it right.

  3. Empathize – Remember to notice their feelings as well as the content of their issue. It feels good for someone to take the time to listen and relate.

  4. Validate – Let them know that their feelings makes sense in the given situation. Give them the room to share more if needed. Refrain from analyzing, criticizing debating, or lecturing.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Am I really paying attention? (putting the phone down and the TV on silent)

  • Am I focusing on their thoughts and feelings in the situation?

  • Am I showing them that I genuinely care?

  • Am I focused on empowering my loved one or on showing them the “right” way?

Key Phrases that May help

  • “It sounds like you feel __________”

  • “So you’re saying ____________. Is that right?”

Remember that this is not a natural response for most people. So, be patient with yourself as you continue to practice the skill of validation!

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