Maureen Salamon is the Executive Editor at Harvard Women’s Health Watch. She recently penned a piece looking at the importance of validation. As she writes, validation is fundamental to a type of talk therapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is geared toward people who experience emotions very intensely. Many people use some aspects of validation in everyday communications with family members, friends, and colleagues, but usually fall short, Jordan-Arthur says. As she said, people “jump into problem-solving, saying something validating, but then immediately tell the person what they should have done or what they should do next,” she says. “They don’t let that validation sink in. It’s like putting on anti-itch cream and then immediately washing it off.”
So how can you offer good validation? Salamon suggests starting with the following for validating another person:
- Give them your full attention.
- Make eye contact and nod appropriately, saying “uh huh” while showing your interest.
- Reflect what you’ve heard by restating their message, such as, “It sounds like you feel worse about this situation today than yesterday.”
- Verbalize the unspoken, such as, “I hear that you feel you can’t get anything done because of this obstacle,” or “It sounds like you’re frustrated.”
- Give it time to work! Be sure to let the validation sink in before attempting to problem- solve.
Validation is an approach that can help people feel heard and understood, validation is especially useful when navigating emotionally charged situations. Validating someone shows you understand their feelings and point of view, even when you disagree. It establishes trust, helping the other person feel supported and open to discussing solutions.
Ready to learn more? Read Salamon full article at Harvard Health Publishing.