Learning How to Acknowledge and Validate is a Strong Communication Tool

Learning How to Acknowledge and Validate is a Strong Communication Tool

As we close out 2010, we are likely to come in contact with many a friend or relative who we may not see on a day to day basis.  Given the state of the economy, frustration that individuals may be having over national or international events, day to day life circumstances or family issues that people may come up against, it is likely you may find yourself involved in a conversation in which the other person may need some emotional support.  Being there to listen and at same time being able to acknowledge that you hear what they are saying or helping to validate their emotions can prove to be very valuable to the person with whom you are speaking.  To accomplish this only takes some patience and understanding on your part.

When you acknowledge someone in conversation you are indicating to them that you are really listening to what they are saying.  At its best, when you acknowledge you are mirroring back or paraphrasing what the person has just said and doing so in a manner that shows you care about what they are saying.  Some of the better approaches to acknowledging that you are receiving a person’s message are when you respond in one of the following ways:

•    What you’re saying is …….
•    Let me see if I get this …….
•    I’m hearing you say ……..
•    What you’re telling me is that ……..
•    In other words …….
•    Let me give that back to you so we can make sure I got it.

When you acknowledge the agenda is not about you.  It is about allowing the other person to just be heard.  Sometimes that may be all they need to feel better about an experience that is troubling them.

While acknowledging is your way of indicating that you hear a person’s words, validating is getting in touch with their emotions.  When we validate we’re not judging whether a person is right or wrong.  We’re not necessarily agreeing with them in any way.  The value of validating is that it allows for the individual that you are validating to have a release and to gain some sense of normalcy about their particular situation.  For the person being validated it lessens the guilt and lets them know they have the right to feel the way they do.

When validating you never say “I know how you feel”, because you don’t.  You can say “It is understandable you feel that way because ….” and then tell them why you believe it is understandable.  Examples of validating someone are:

•    You feel you’ve been hurt and you’re angry.  I can’t blame you for feeling resentment.
•    That’s perfectly normal.  It can be very upsetting when something like that happens.
•    Based on your values, no wonder you feel that way.

An additional value of knowing how to best acknowledge and validate the feelings of others is in helping ourselves when we need the same type of support.  Whether we’re fortunate enough to receive that acknowledgement and/or validation from others who are as in tune to these skills as ourselves, or if we have to reach into our own inner resources to help us come to grip with our feelings, acknowledging and validating are strong and powerful techniques in helping one move through the events which come their way during life’s journey.