Often overlooked, this one tip will improve all your relationships. By the time the reader finishes this post, they will have practical steps on how to implement this tip and reap the benefits of healthier and more loving relationships.
So What is this Tip?
It is called emotional validation.
Most people choose relationships because they want to feel a certain way. The general tone of the relationship relates to how we feel with that person. Being emotionally validated regularly feels very affirming and loving, and most people are drawn toward those who have this ability.
My favorite website on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can be found at eqi.org. It is run by Steve Hein. He outlines what emotional validation does nicely and I summarize it here.
- When we validate someone’s feelings, we allow them to safely share their feelings and thoughts.
- It reassures them that it is okay to have the feelings they have.
- We are demonstrating that we will still accept them after they have shared their feelings.
- The other person feels our respect for their perception of things at that moment. We help them feel heard, acknowledged, understood and accepted.
So How do I do Give Emotional Validation to Improve All my Relationships?
Here is a step by step breakdown on how to do this. My suggestion is to try it out on a few trusted people first. Seek feedback from them on how to improve. Most people, in our very rushed society, actually are terrible at listening, and even worse at providing emotional validation. If you are a “fixer” like me you will have to unlearn the habit of jumping in with unsolicited advice.
First, get the environment right
A loud, rushed environment is not conducive to tuning into the other person. Go somewhere quiet with minimal distractions to be able to focus on the person. That means turning off your electronic devices too. 🙂
Second, invite the speaker to share and listen carefully!
Ask a question.
Then probe deeper with their answer.
Some sample phrases for probing would be:
- Please tell me more.
- How did you feel when X happened?
- I see.
- Then what happened?
Use your body language to help the speaker know you are truly listening.
Smile (if the emotions being expressed warrant this), nod, make eye contact and ensure your body is in an open position which is turned towards the speaker.
Another good way to encourage the speaker to share is to show you are listening attentively by paraphrasing.
Here are some examples
- So, you are saying that when X happened you felt Y, correct?
- You are saying that today your boss did X and you are feeling scared about how it going to affect you, is that right?
Helping them Label their Emotions
Sometimes, the other person will have a hard time sharing if they are emotionally overwhelmed. To make it easier you can attempt to open the conversation with phrases like this:
- I can see you are really upset. Would you please tell me what happened?
- You seem troubled (scared/worried/angry/troubled/etc). Would you like to talk about it?
- How did you feel when X happened?
Let the speaker know you understand and accept how they feel and why.
Examples of validating statements when the person is describing a negative situation are:
- I would be very frustrated/sad/angry too if X happened.
- I understand why you would feel that way.
- Sounds like you are disappointed/sad that your cat did X.
- That must have been hard when X happened.
- That really bothered you didn’t it?
Further, here are examples of validating statements when a person is
describing a positive situation:
- You seem really excited/happy/encouraged.
- That is excellent/awesome.
- I can see why you are proud.
- I would be very happy in that situation too.
Fourth, Help them Process and Release Negative Emotions in a Healthy Way
Talking about negative emotions with a trusted person releases them in a healthy way, and helps us feel closer to the other person. Here are some sample phrases to help the other person process and release their emotions.
- What bothers you most about it?
- On a scale of 0 to
10how angry/frightened/etc do you feel about that situation?
- So what bothered you was that X happened, what else bothered you?
- What other emotions did you feel when that happened?
- What would help you feel better?
Last, Avoid Emotional Invalidating Statements
- You should not feel/think that.
- It could be worse.
- It is not that bad.
- I’m sorry you feel that way.
- Don’t think about it.
- Just get over it.
- You are overreacting.
There are some people with personality disorders where emotional validation may not work in bringing you closer. Narcissists and sociopaths have defects in the parts of the brain that relate to empathy and they do not process empathy like normal people. These types tend to be inter-personally destructive and my best advice is to distance yourself from people with these disorders.
There you have it, to improve all your relationships all you have to do is learn how to give emotional validation. The above post summarizes how to do this.
Let Me Know
Have you tried doing emotional validation in your relationships? If so please let me know how it went.
Do This Too
Please consider sharing this post on social media using the share buttons below. To read more on strengthening your relationships, please read this post on how the love languages improve relationships. Thanks!