Relationship Tips – Communication Validation

March 5, 2011
Author: KLTBrown

wifescoldinghusband1OK, what’s all this talk about “Validation”. I see so much written about the need to add validation to your relationships but what does that really mean? Relationship advice from professionals in the field are usually attempting to improve relationships by increasing the couples ability and willingness to add validation into their communication. The intent is to make people feel understood by their listeners. But in order for this to really be effective, the listener must suspend his own feelings, or point of view or even logic until the speaker has made their point. This is a challenge for many who have a “type A” personality.

Getting to the real meaning of validation, its simply the practice of showing respect for each person having a different opinion or point of view. Given that we all see things differently, especially in a relationship, validation provides a way for us to communicate in the common ground between us. In other words, validation is just showing the speaker that we can accept the validity of their logic, thoughts, wants, and needs (whether we share them or not) and that they are safe from attack or ridicule.

We know that taking turns speaking and listening is a skill we should have developed in early childhood, yet at times when we are in the midst of a discussion about something that near and dear to our hearts, we forget that lesson learned so long ago. We lose our ability and willingness to cooperate and give in to the other person. We don’t care whether it’s right or wrong we just need our opinion to be heard. We fail to listen carefully to the other person and react to their point of view.

Here’s a scenario that occurs over and over when validation is not added to the conversation. I tell you how I feel about something. Then you tell me how you feel about it. Because I am not feeling heard by your response, (I feel you really didn’t hear me) I tell you how I feel once more (usually with a little more feeling). Then because you don’t feel heard by my response, you tell me how you feel again (with a little more feeling). This goes on and on until it escalates into a fight or one of us gives up. What’s missing from the conversation is 1) showing the speaker you are listening by mirroring the statements back to the speaker, checking for accuracy (Are you saying.. or, Did I hear you say..) and then validating the content of the communication.

Examples of validating statements are:

  • What you are saying (does or doesn’t) makes sense to me because…
  • I follow what you are saying and it (does or doesn’t) make sense to me because…
  • I follow your logic and you (do or don’t) make sense to me because..
  • I see where you are coming from but …
  • I understand you feel that way but…

By doing this you create two equally valid points of view, neither of which is necessarily right or wrong , just different.  Most importantly you create the environment where you can communication freely and openly without being threatened or made to feel bad for your point of view.

This all sounds like common sense to me but maybe that’s the first thing we forget when we are in a heated discussion.

Hope it helps,

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