The importance of genuinely validating others in the new world of remote working (2 min read, and worth it ?)

by Alec Grimsley

19 Jun, 2020 at 11:28 am

Let's blend the ingredients of an extended period of remote working with the relentless uncertainty of how COVID-19 will impact the fundamental areas of our lives, including job security, finances, and our loved ones. It’s a recipe for insecurity and stress.

From an early age we have been seeking validation, we looked into the eyes of our parents or carers and scanned for verbal and non-verbal cues that we were "Okay", "Seen", "Loved."  Oprah Winfrey, who across 5,000 episodes interviewed over 20,00 personalities including presidents, criminals, survivors, and celebrities shared something she calls the common denominator.  At the end of every interview, (off camera) everyone asked her the same question "Did I do okay?". At a deeper level, I think the question they really wanted answering was "Am I okay?"

So, in these times of distributed remote working, and increased insecurity we need to pay more attention to the human need for validation. The need to hear from others that I am okay.

There are two places we can do this from; one is using an inauthentic behavioural technique where we trot out pre-rehearsed lines like "I hear what you're saying" or the now infamous swapping out of the word 'but' for 'and.' This approach portrays itself as being others orientated, but, in reality it’s more self-beneficial in nature.  It is often used to become more likeable and trusted to further our own outcomes.

The other place is from a mindset where we validate the other person by truly seeing them as a person. We see their need to be seen, heard, validated just like we need to be seen, heard, validated. We may end up using similar words to the inauthentic self-beneficial approach, but this time when we say, "I can see why taking that approach is so important to you." Or "I can now see how confused my decision left you" we genuinely do see and care about how they feel. This is authentic validating. Of course, validating does not mean you necessarily agree with their solutions, opinions or requests. Still, the genuine validation and affirmation that they have been seen and heard will make all the difference to how they feel, their fears, and the quality of the conversation. It usually strengthens the relationship too.

Of course, the other person might not validate your feelings, thoughts, and needs, but let's talk about how we handle that for another post!

Stay well and safe.