If we deal with others, and especially in delicate matters, we need to create a trusting environment by making the other feel understood and acknowledged. The most important way to accomplish this is to validate their bad feelings, or our own, independently of whatever it may have caused. Remember, you don’t know, not even from objective information… It is a simple act of kindness, making the other feel valued and worthwhile. Believe me, whatever the situation, even if you’d need to be in control for further interaction, this is the way to go. Always.
Validating means that you notice the bad feeling and reflect it back to the other in a neutral way. This is done by making an objective statement about the bad feeling, without judgement, without revealing own emotions or opinion about it.
“This situation seems to frustrate you.”
“This situation seems to worry you.”
“This situation seems to cause you pain.”
“This situation frustrates me.”
“This situation worries me.”
“This situation causes me pain.”
Even if the complaint, or whatever the information is about, seems trivial or awkward to you, you are in no position to judge! You don’t know the story behind, you don’t know the game that is played and you certainly aren’t trying to fix the other. What you are trying to do is to get your results, your arrangements, your deals or your needs fulfilled or helping the other with their complaint and you want to accomplish that in a respectful, durable way that satisfies all. (If you have a hard time validating negative emotions or think it is inappropriate, I recommend you to read this blog: “Why happy isn’t always go lucky”)
Moreover, if the complaint is about someone else, this assures understanding and bonding, without being taken hostage to the opposite side of the absent other. No more or less than validating the bad feelings about the situation makes sure you are not triangulated between other people’s private or unconscious affairs.
If you have a complaint, it is important to mention your negative feelings about THE SITUATION. Best is to describe the general negative situation for you -in results- (or everybody) in stead of pointing to the behavior of someone else. You run the risk of shaming the person and people will always defend against shame. Then you’ll get resistance for whatever follows… If you’re not sure how to mention the negative situation without shaming the person, best keep it with your negative feelings and go immediately to your desired situation (at your next finger)…
At first, you will stay with the sentences above, but by noticing bad feelings, you will get better in reading them more specifically, which will improve your overall conversation. Stating your own bad feelings can be as simple as “this situation troubles me” or if you’d like to start at a baby level: “this situation tires me”.
If you validate people’s negative emotions, you’d probably get a response like “Yes, you understand me” or “yes, it’s awful…” and they will again confirm how bad it is. We recommend that you genuinely listen and validate no more than 3 times –you don’t want to be sucked into a game you don’t know anything about- Then reorganize their perception and vision to the bright future, which is at your next finger… (“You are really feeling bad about this situation, so we have to attend it”)
This is so simple as:
What spoils the mood?