When you validate someone’s feelings, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re agreeing with their perspective or situation. It’s about accepting that their experience created a certain feeling within them. And feelings are real. They’re okay, too — even really sad ones.
We should all practice saying the following phrases — before we get defensive — the next time somebody reveals they’ve had their feelings hurt (by us or someone else).
Examples of what to say:
- “It must be very difficult to be in this situation.”
- “I can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through.”
- “If I hear what you’re saying correctly, when I do X… it makes you feel this way.”
In other words, a great technique is to just get some clarity by repeating and validating what they’ve just said.
- “Wow, you must feel like you were blind-sided.”
- “Seems to me like you were really disrespected in this situation.”
- “Wow, it must be really difficult, really hard to feel that way.”
Again, you’re not validating a warped perception of reality, but you are — in a sense — making an effort to validate their feelings.
Examples of what not to say:
- “That’s not true.”
- “I didn’t mean to.”
- “They’re just jealous.”
- “It doesn’t sound like her to have done that intentionally.”
- “I know what you’re going through.”
The thing is, you really don’t know what they’re going through. And to say you do minimizes and invalidates a person’s feelings.
Now, here’s the kicker, after you make a statement of validation, then stop and listen to what they have to say next. Pay attention to the words, and then try to understand their feelings. Help them figure out where the hurt truly comes from.
Continue this process. You’ll find that most of the time someone just needs to talk themselves through their situation. They want to be heard and understood.
But remember, the caveat there is you DON’T want to say you “understand.”
For so much more on this subject, like:
- Why feelings matter (even if they’re not based in truth)
- My advice on seeking help for feeling validated
- Why it’s dangerous to dismiss someone’s feelings
Then, you must check out The Chalene Show episode below:
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