Validation is the recognition or affirmation that a person or their feelings or opinions are valid or worthwhile. It is a skill that is not commonly recognized, but is extremely important in forming healthy relationships. It is frequently heard within relationships that one or both of the individuals do not feel heard or understood. This can be the case for romantic relationships, family relationships, working relationships, and friendships. People are looking for validation so they feel that their needs, wants, and feelings are understood. Validating someone means communicating to them that we acknowledge and accept their feelings. Here are some important points about validation:
1) Validation is not problem solving
Many people want to be heard without someone jumping in and attempting to solve the problem. When validating someone, you can communicate that you accept and acknowledge that what they are sharing with you does really matter. It is effective to listen to someone, recognize their emotions, and acknowledge what they are going through. This will help prevent you from rushing to create a plan to fix what is going on because in that moment you are focused on validating them.
2) Validation is not agreement
Many people become stuck when talking about validation because they may not agree with what the other person is sharing. It is possible to validate what someone is feeling without agreeing with them. You are aiming to communicate to them that what they are saying is important, even when you don’t agree with them. You want to show them that you hear them and recognize that it is significant. Validation can sometimes even be a more effective tool in communicating than agreeing with someone.
3) Validation is not part of multi-tasking.
Everyone lives busy lives with full calendars and various daily obligations. These distractions make it difficult to always take the time to listen to someone and understand what they are going through. Validating someone requires time and focus, so attempting to do this while multi-tasking will be hard. When you want to validate someone, try to put the time and energy aside to listen to what they are saying and show them you believe that it matters. This is a great way to help someone see that they are important to you.
If you and a loved one are having trouble communicating and validating each other, it may be time to work with a therapist who can help. Click here to get started.