"...So how do you effectively listen to and validate your partner? There are a few key components to help guide your conversations.
1. Mindful listening is the first component of validation. This means you really pay attention to what your partner is saying. As difficult as it might be, suspend your own judgments and reactions to the situation or topic. Temporarily let go of the need to advise, change, help or fix the situation. Your own thoughts are put on the back burner; your focus, instead, is on your partner’s current experience. Show you are listening by stopping what you are doing (closing the laptop, turning off the TV), turning to face them, nodding your head, and making eye contact as they talk.
2. Acknowledging and accepting is the next step in validation. This means you acknowledge what they’ve said or what they are feeling. You might say, “I can see you’re upset about this,” or “You seem discouraged” in response to their news about having to work over the weekend. Rather than trying to cheer your partner up, you allow them space to be upset.
3. Validating does not equal agreeing. An important distinction is that you can accept your partner’s feelings, but it doesn’t mean you need to agree with them. For instance, say that you go to see a movie together. Afterward, you discuss your thoughts about the film. Your partner found it entertaining and funny, while you found it boring and predictable. You might validate their point of view by saying, “It sounds like you really enjoyed the film. It wasn’t my favorite, but I can tell that you had fun watching it.” In this example, you’re acknowledging your partner’s enjoyment of something, without sharing the same sentiment.
4. Ask questions. If your partner presents a problem or difficult situation to you, try to find out more about how they are feeling and what they want by asking open-ended questions. “What do you wish would happen?” “What was your reaction to that?” “How are you feeling about things now?” Gently asking questions to clarify their experience can be very gratifying for them. It shows you care and want to really listen.
5. Show you understand. Use validating statements such as, “I would feel that way, too,” or “It makes sense to me that you’d feel that way given the circumstances” to let them know you see why they feel the way they do. You can also show validation with non-verbals, such as giving them a hug if they feel lonely, making them a cup of tea if they feel jittery, or giving them space if they need time to think..."
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* original title: "The Single Best Thing You Can Do for Your Relationship"
Via Dimitris Tsantaris