After a long week that felt like an emotional roller coaster, I came to a realization about social skills. Obviously, we all have a different set of skills that help us survive in the real world and like emotional intelligence our skill levels vary. With years of experience working in the mental health field, I know there is one skill in particular, that people seriously have difficulty with. It’s not a skill that people talk about every day, but it is highly important. If you want to Show the Real World Who’s Boss, you have to access the power of validation.
In working with many people I wonder why validation is so hard to give. Perhaps after years of tough love, people get used to brushing off the feelings of others or maybe it’s a way to keep others at bay. So what is validation, and how can it help you? In the terms of feelings and emotions, validation is to show or prove that something is acceptable. It basically tells others, it’s okay to feel what their feeling, and you accept and support them in those emotions. Being able to validate others will dramatically improve your relationships. It will also set you apart from others as well as show you’re a collaborator.
Too often society tells people to brush off their emotions. Take this past election for example. After the results, many people were outraged and were met with the response “let’s move on” or “there is no need to be this upset, just get over it.” Not only are those statements condescending, but they don’t take into account that we all feel different things at different times.
Why You Need To Improve Your Validation Skills
People who are able to validate others are team players and highly supportive. They understand the importance of emotions and recognize while they may not feel the same way, others have different experiences. Different experiences mean that people have different emotional standpoints. It’s highly unfair to say, “I can do it, why can’t you?” It’s the same for emotions. In validating others, you are offering support and understanding. People recognize genuineness, sincerity, and empathy as traits of highly supportive people. Those with those traits tend to have large support circles and long-lasting relationships because people naturally want to be around them. These traits also help to dismantle defensiveness and naturally de-escalate tough situations.
We have a highly independent culture and society, but in reality, we need to be able to lean on each other to survive. It’s okay to be vulnerable with others. You don’t necessarily have to agree, you just have to show that it’s okay to feel the way that they feel. It is not up to you tell someone how long they should have an emotion. Trust me, when I say, if you validate someone the emotion will not last long. If you don’t support them or act in a condescending manner then the situation will escalate. That person can even develop some animosity towards you.
How To Validate Someone
This is possibly one of the easiest skills you can develop. Validation is really a matter of will than it is technique. I have developed a few key phrases that you can use every day.
- I hear that you feel (Fill in the emotion). This situation sucks, I cannot believe this is happening right now! If there is anything I can do, I am here for you.
- I see that you are tired and exhausted (or whatever emotions). I would be too if I was in your shoes. Know that you are not alone and I’ve got your back.
- I know you’re frustrated (fill in the emotion), I’m frustrated (fill in the emotion) just hearing this. What can I do to help?
- I messed up! I abandoned you during a time when you needed me. I know you are hurt and feeling anger. I want to move forward, how can we make this happen?
Can you sense the similarities of the statements above? They all recognize an emotion and they all share the responsibilities in moving forward. There are no accusations in these statements. They all provide a person with the space to be in their feelings and fully feel their emotions. It also gives a person the space necessary to have those emotions without the rush to change. People just want to know that it’s okay and they’re not crazy. Validation is the way to give them that acceptance.
It is almost guaranteed that you will encounter difficult situations in the real world. You can form strong and lasting relationships with validation. So, what do you think? Share in the comments below your experiences with having hard emotions and validation. Show some love, like and share.
until next time…