Inspiration This Week: Miscommunication

Remember that newsletter I sent a little while back about learning to ask the question, "do you need advice or do you need me to listen to you vent?" I hope you were able to put that into practice, it can be so hopeful when you know how you can be most helpful to a loved one.

But then they ask you to just listen to them vent and you're all up for the task, but have no clue how to show up for them. Let me help with that...

Theme of the Week: Validation

Validation...there's that word people say they need so much of but do you really know what that means and how to give it?

Validation means that you understand where the other person is coming from, even if you disagree with what they say or do. Recognizing that someone's feelings and thoughts make sense can show that we are listening nonjudgmentally and can help build stronger relationships. Again, let me repeat...it does not always mean condoning someone's behavior or choices, but choosing to step into their shoes and acknowledge their emotional experience. It takes skill because it means separating out your feelings and choices, a truly selfless act. Here are some levels of validation and examples of each.

Level 1- Active Listening-this is just about being fully present and paying attention. An example would be putting your phone down and maintaining eye contact during a conversation.

Level 2- Accurate Reflection- This is where you repeat or paraphrase the person's statements to show you're listening. Some phrases to start that off would include "it sounds like..." "I hear that" "You seem..." and then repeat their words back to them.

Level 3- Reading Emotional Context- You attempt to identify the person's emotions, even if it is hard for them to label it themselves. An example would be "I wonder if you were feeling disrespected by your supervisor".

Level 4- History and Biology- You take into account the person's previous experiences and biological wiring and attempt to understand their current behavior as a patterned response to past events. This looks like "Given the way your mother abandoned you as a child I could understand why you have a hard time trusting that people will stick around."

Level 5- Normalizing- Recognizing the person's situation as a part of the human experience and helping them to know they are not the only one experiencing it. "It makes sense that you're angry at your boyfriend, anyone would feel upset if someone lied to them."

Level 6- Radical Genuineness- This is when you respond from one human to the next, showing them you can respect their experience and trust them to make choices that are best for them. "Wow, that's really so sad that you just lost your pet. That's the worst feeling." (Don't worry, this one is really tough to get down pat)

Challenge This Week: Level Up Your Validation

Which ones of the above are you currently doing? Are you doing any, or just diving right into problem solving or unintentionally dismissing someone? Think about trying some of the other levels next time you have an opportunity for validation. Just remember, you don't always have to solve people's problems, sometimes they just need to know that their feelings and experiences are valid and that you see that. And that could be all you have to do to build healthier more intimate relationships!

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