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home sweet communication: validation

Hey there! How is life? Grab yourself a coffee and sit for a bit. I’d LOVE the company! It seems that Baby Boy should still be just a few weeks old since life has seemed to stand still over the past few months, but time is still moving, and he is still growing! He grows everyday even though many people have not even seen him in person! Many people have been around their family members more than usual lately, and with added stressors with working from home, close quarters with people, job loss, or countless other reasons, communication can suffer! Home is not always a home sweet home. In our house, we have not enjoyed the added family time but the demanding work schedule can contribute to the need for better communication.

Improved communication could solve a great many problems in all relationships. We see this in counseling sessions regularly. A huge part of communication is VALIDATION! I want to share a bit about this in hopes of improving your relationships with everyone in your family, workplace, church, and friendships. So what does validation mean exactly?

Validation is listening attentively, acknowledging someone else’s feelings, and honoring their experience. Validation does not mean agreeing with someone’s feelings, but accepting that is how they feel. Children can FEEL like their parents are mean when they have been punished. If a child can feel free to express (respectfully) they feel the punishment is unfair while the parents genuinely listen, they feel heard, respected, and loved. This builds trust, strengthens the relationship, and opens the child to listen to the parents. While parents may not agree and the child’s punishment may not change, the child has felt heard and understood, which diffuses anger.

In the real world right now, many teenagers here in my community are upset that they did not return to school before graduation and summer break. They are also upset that they did not get to walk in a traditional graduation ceremony. They expressed frustration that they have been told that there are worse problems and they should “get over it.” True, there are worse problems than missing graduation, however, the loss of excitement over the experience earned after twelve years of school is super disappointing and they have a right to their sadness. At the same time, if these teenagers feel validated in their thoughts, they can be shown that there are other ways to celebrate and make the most of the experience despite the disappointment.

People want to feel heard even when there is no solution to frustration. The simple of act of being present and listening makes all the difference. Validation is monumental to solid relationships. Validation is NOT agreeing with the person, but empathizing and understanding how they feel and why. The following include some ways to validate those in your own life:

LISTEN. Be present and actively listen. Nod your head, make eye contact, and stand still. Put down the electronics and show the person attention. Allow them to speak without interruption.

ACKNOWLEDGE. As the person talks, allow them to share honestly. Let them know they are understood. Allow them to be upset, frustrated, angry, or sad. People should be permitted to feel what they feel. Feel life from their perspective.

ASK QUESTIONS. Ask what they need, what can be done, what they would like to do next. That person can feel loved and connected when we are involved. Even letting them know you understand why they feel that way turns away anger and frustration.

ACT WITH KINDNESS. We are told to speak the truth in love. When another person feels we care, they are open to listening to what we have to say. When we listen and acknowledge someone’s feelings, when we speak back, they are more willing to accept what we say in response.

Invalidation is monumental for healthy relationships. Validation is so important, without it, people can even become depressed! Validation can rescue relationships and save marriages.

Many truths can be spoken when the motivation is LOVE. We are reminded in Ephesians to speak the truth and always do it with an attitude of LOVE. Let us make our homes a home sweet home. The same applies to those with roomies. We can be the ones to improve relationships and communication. Have a wonderful week! Let’s do it again soon!

Speak the truth in love.

Ephesians 4:15

Love,

Charis

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