Validation | How to be a better communicator in the work place & in your relationships
Validation is, “recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile.” Per Oxford Languages
Validation is a crucial aspect of any relationship whether it be a workplace one or personal. Even though many of us are remote (written in 2020, during pandemic), this is still important virtually. You may have heard people throw around the term validation, or in a sentence, “I just don’t feel validated.” This blog post will address why, how & when you need to validate someone & then give you the rules/steps to follow.
Here are a few reasons why you want to be good at validating others!
- You’re more likable
- Establish closer bonds
- Make the world go round.
So we understand that validation is essentially a time, or moment when someone wants to be heard. This starts with what’s called an emotional bid: a request for connection. Someone trying to share something with you.
Example: Your co worker tells you about how they just got promoted! Positive validation, “that’s amazing, great job. That interview process was so difficult!”
Negative validation: “Dude I lost the deal.” “Hey man, I’m so sorry. That’s awful. You worked so hard on that. “
Advice adds a complicated element to validation. It also offers one of the more common validation mistakes. Offering advice when the person did not ask for any! Unwarranted advice is one of the worst things you can do. More often than not — people just want to air out how they’re feeling. They don’t want immediate advice. Unless they’ve asked for it!
Example: “I can’t believe I lost that deal man.”
“Yeah, well next time try coming at them with a different price or maybe you should try a different career path or I don’t know man, like, do you think they were even interested?”
Imagine how annoying that would be! You were already in the dumps, and then someone is drilling you with questions or advice that you didn’t ask for.
It comes from a good place, generally. People want to help. It’s simply bad communication. We’ve all had moments where we wanted to air something out and someone goes way to far, dishing out advice on what to do, when you’re really just in the “this sucks” phase. Not the “what do I do?” phase.
Appropriate example of when to offer advice: “That deal would have allowed me to hit quota. What should I do man?” *Boom* there’s your ticket to giving advice.
The big no no’s of validation:
If you haven’t experienced something, do NOT say “I understand”.
Because they’re immediately thinking, “no you don’t”. This is pretty common with traumatic events that people experience.
Try saying something like, “I’ve never gone through that, but that sounds really difficult.” Or, “If I were in your shoes, I would feel the same way.”
People have good intentions, just bad communication at times.
Another No No is: Do not be the person who says, “OMG that same thing happened to me”. No one likes that…. No matter how common it is, allow the person to vent or tell their story.
Now that we have an idea of what validation looks like in motion. Let’s break down the rules to follow to make things easier.
5 steps to validation
- Decide whether you are prepared to validate someone properly. Meaning, the right state of mind to truly hear someone out. Or sometimes you literally just don’t have time. And that’s okay, communicate that you would love to listen at another time. Often people will unfairly corner you or not ask if you have a moment.
- Listen empathically. Often times this means don’t say anything, just listen & be present. Eye contact is important. It’s not always easy, it’s asking for your full attention. But this is what is required.
- Validate. Authentically respond to what they’re saying. Different from advice, you’re simply going along with the emotions of whatever the emotional bid entails.
- Give advice or feedback if necessary. Only if they’ve asked.
- Validate. You can’t validate enough!
That’s it folks! That should be everything you need to allow someone to feel heard. In times like these, people are dealing with immense problems. It’s important to maintain our relationships and grow them positively. Life is relationships.