From Conflict to Connection: The Power of Validating Emotions - Episode 22

The next time you are in a challenging conversation, try validation. It is an incredibly helpful tool for defusing intense emotions. Validation, the art of acknowledging someone's feelings and viewpoint without necessarily agreeing, is a potent strategy that can foster understanding and trust in emotionally charged situations.

Validation serves as the cornerstone of dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is especially effective for individuals struggling with heightened emotions. While many people hint at validation in their everyday interactions, they often fall short by quickly jumping to problem-solving. Brittany Jordan-Arthur, a psychologist at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital suggests a more deliberate approach:

  1. Give Undivided Attention: Engage fully by making eye contact and demonstrating interest through nods and verbal cues.
  2. Reflect and Reiterate: Restate the person's message to show you're truly listening and understanding their perspective.
  3. Verbalize the Unspoken: Put into words the underlying emotions, providing validation for their feelings. Examples: "I hear that you feel you can't get anything done because of this obstacle," or "It sounds like you're frustrated."
  4. Allow Time for Absorption: Let the validation sink in before attempting to address the issue or suggest solutions. Pro tip: After validating, count to ten in your head silently. This will allow time for the validation to work its magic. This pause can empower both people to shift from feeling wronged to internally finding resolutions.

To be clear, validation doesn't endorse negative behavior; it acknowledges emotions without condoning actions. For parents dealing with teenagers, validation can be an essential tool. For instance, when a teen expresses frustration with a teacher, parents should avoid dismissing the teen's emotions or defending the teacher. Instead, validate the teen's feelings and struggles.

In the tumultuous sea of emotions, validation acts as an anchor, allowing us to navigate the stormy waters of communication. Through this technique, we can foster empathy, build trust, and pave the way for meaningful conversations that bridge gaps and dissolve conflicts.



Salamon, M. (2023). Validation: Defusing Intense Emotions. Retrieved from

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