Validation as a Natural Communication Style

May 20, 2022

With plenty of practice and curiosity, leaders can make validation a part of their natural communication style.

Validation is an important communication and relationship competency because it mitigates unhealthy workplace conflict. Toxic conflict hurts employee productivity and wellbeing and results in higher voluntary turnover.

Creating effective teams is all about how teammates communicate and collaborate.

According to research, taking perspective and controlling anger are essential for effectively managing conflicts. Here are some ways leaders can help.

Pay attention to employees’ expressions. Know your people well enough to see the smoke before the flames. If you detect a problem, lead with curiosity. Always double-check the facts and listen carefully to all sides of the story. You don’t have to agree with someone to validate them. It’s merely a matter of choosing acceptance over judgment.

People generally shut down when they feel judged or blamed and will hear nothing you say. Validating them is your best chance to get them to open their ears and register the situation’s essence.

Begin by listening to understand. Doing so gets the conversation off on the right foot and stabilizes the situation based on shortcutting natural fight-flight-freeze reactions.

Friedemann Schulz von Thun (1981) asserts every message has four facets. We all have our own set of filters. We’re strong in one facet, but we may be weak in another. By being aware of Friedemann’s four facets, leaders can engage in healthier communication and make validation a natural part of their communication style.

Make it a regular practice to vet messages through the Four-Sided Model. Facts are neutral. Concentrate on those and use questions to clarify whether you understood what the other person is trying to tell you.

Most people who need to talk seek validation, not help to bury their uncomfortable feelings. Authenticating someone’s feelings increases their ability to solve problems and gain confidence. Suppose we invalidate someone by dismissing or attempting to change what they’re feeling. In that case, we reinforce the idea that it’s not okay to feel uncomfortable and inhibit them from letting go of whatever keeps them stuck.

Seek to understand first, and ask permission before offering an opinion. Doing so shows respect for the other person, their emotions, and that they are intelligent and capable in their own right.