We all crave validation. We want the important people in our lives to acknowledge how we feel, whether or not they feel the same way. When we don’t feel validated, we don’t feel understood and rightly or wrongly, we can feel less loved. The problem is, our partners, parents, and friends often don’t realise that they are failing to give us validation. And we, on the other hand will be failing to validate others. Let’s look at some common scenarios:
1. You call your partner because you can’t work out how to download some photos.
You: I hate computers! I don’t have time for this. Why won’t it work?
Your partner: Calm down. Just leave it and I’ll do it when I come home.
Your well-meaning partner thinks that he’s being helpful, but you just feel like you’re getting stressed over nothing and you shouldn’t have bothered him. If he were to give you some validation it would sound like this:
Your partner: How frustrating is it when it won’t work, especially when you’re in a hurry? Do you want to leave it until I get home?
2. Your child is clearly upset because they were not invited to a friend’s party.
Responding without validation: Don’t worry. They were probably only allowed to invite a small number of friends.
Responding with validation: It’s upsetting when that happens isn’t it? But maybe they were only allowed to invite a small number of kids.
3. Your friend gets really worked up about poor service in a cafe.
Friend: Why can’t they bring me what I asked for? It makes me so mad. All I wanted was a hot coffee. How hard can that be?
Responding without validation: Just ask them to bring you another one. Or I’ll ask if you’d rather.
Responding with validation: It’s so annoying isn’t it? Do you want to ask for another one?
The difference is subtle, but the effect of validating what our loved ones say or do can be massive.