Do you struggle with validating someone’s feelings? Do you feel like your words and actions are not enough to express the value of another person’s emotions? If so, then this blog post is for you.
By following these steps, you can learn how to better communicate with those around you and build strong relationships based on trust and mutual respect. Below are ten practical and impactful ways to validate someone’s feelings
What Does it Mean to Validate Someones Feelings?
Validation, in the realm of psychology, is the simple act of affirming someone’s feelings or experiences. It’s recognizing and expressing acceptance of an individual’s emotional state, treating it as understandable and legitimate.
Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with their perspective or actions but acknowledging their emotions as real, significant, and deserving of attention. This seemingly subtle practice plays a critical role in building healthy, emotionally fulfilling relationships.
10 Effective Ways to Validate Someone’s Feelings
1. Listen Actively
One of the most straightforward ways to validate someone’s feelings is to listen actively. This involves paying undivided attention, maintaining eye contact, nodding along, and showing responsive facial expressions. It also means echoing the speaker’s words with an occasional “mhmm” or “I see”. Let them know that you’re engaged and taking in what they’re saying.
Example: When your partner is sharing their day’s challenges, put your phone aside, look them in the eye, and listen attentively.
2. Express Empathy
Empathy involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another person. Expressing empathy communicates that you understand their emotional experience. This can be done by reflecting back their feelings and offering comfort.
Example: If your friend is upset about a recent breakup, you could say, “I can see how much this is hurting you, and it’s completely understandable.”
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3. Paraphrase Their Words
Paraphrasing or summarizing what the person has said confirms that you’ve understood their feelings and experiences. This technique also encourages them to go into more depth or provide further clarification.
Example: If your child is scared about a school performance, you could say, “So you’re feeling worried about the upcoming show because you think everyone will be watching you, is that correct?”
4. Avoid Judgement
No one likes to feel judged. It’s essential to keep your opinions, advice, or criticisms to yourself, focusing instead on the person’s feelings. Not only does this validate the individual, but it also allows them to explore their emotions without pressure or judgment.
Example: If your sibling shares their fears about starting a new job, resist the urge to say, “Just get over it,” and instead acknowledge their feelings.
5. Be Genuine
Authenticity is crucial to validation. Genuine responses strengthen the emotional connection and trust. It also lets the person know that you’re genuinely interested and supportive.
Example: If your partner is upset about a missed promotion, respond sincerely: “I see how disappointed you are, and I’m here for you.”
6. Offer Comfort
Providing physical or verbal comfort can be a powerful form of validation. It also lets the person know that you care and are willing to support them through their struggles.
Example: If your friend is grieving, a gentle touch on the arm or saying, “I’m here for you,” can make a significant difference.
7. Show Patience
Validation involves giving the person as much time as they need to express their feelings. Being patient communicates that their feelings matter. It also allows them to explore their emotions without fear of judgement or interruption.
Example: If your colleague is taking a long time to explain why they’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t rush them. Instead, be patient and give them the space they need.
8. Use Affirming Statements
Affirming statements reassure the person that their feelings are legitimate and important. They also show that you’re supportive and on their side. This can be done with words, such as “I understand,” or “It’s okay to feel this way.”
Example: If your spouse is anxious about a health issue, affirm their feelings by saying, “It’s completely normal to feel anxious about your health.”
9. Encourage Emotional Expression
Allowing and encouraging emotional expression provides a safe space for people to share their feelings. It also validates the individual and builds trust.
Example: If your friend is battling job stress, encourage them to share their feelings: “It sounds like you’re under a lot of stress, and it’s okay to talk about it.”
10. Validate Non-Verbally
Non-verbal cues like a caring smile, a gentle touch, or a comforting hug can convey validation. It also shows that you’re listening and caring for the person.
Example: If your partner is feeling down, a comforting hug or a warm smile can convey that you understand their emotions.
In conclusion, validating someone’s feelings is an act of emotional kindness. It provides comfort, promotes open communication, and fosters deeper connections. By practicing these ten steps, you’re not only acknowledging another’s emotional reality but also strengthening the fabric of your relationships.
Remember, when emotions are heard and validated, they often become less intense, making it easier for individuals to navigate their emotional landscapes and for relationships to thrive.