UMBC Wellness in the Workplace

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May 2014: “Cultivate Deep Listening Through Validation”

The practice of validation is another technique that you can use to increase your ability to deeply listen. We all want to be heard and understood and validating is a way to let someone know that they aren’t crazy, that they make sense to you. Sometimes, simply knowing that we make sense, we are better equipped to move through whatever difficulty we’re experiencing. To try this out, you simply need to reflect back to your partner that you understand their viewpoint, emotions, or actions. You can do this by starting off with ‘It really makes sense to me that…’ and share with your partner what makes sense about their particular situation. You may find in listening that you don’t agree with their perspective, however, this practice is not about agreement. We are looking for something in their story that makes sense to us, given the observer that they are, their history, and collective experiences (which are different than ours).

In the next month, practice deepening your listening through validating your partner’s experience. While listening, notice if you become resistant and begin creating judgments. Instead of feeding these judgments and critiques in your mind, pause, and simply notice them with acceptance before recommitting to listening from a more neutral stance. Pay attention to how the practice of validating shifts your partner and your relationship as a result.


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