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The Power of Validating Others

“I Hear You” The Power of Validating Others
Workshop with Dr. Byron Bloemer and Review of Book by Michael S. Sorensen

We all seek validation and likely have a basic understanding of the benefit of validating others. However, this simple skill is often the hardest interpersonal skill to understand and master. We want to offer advice or correct what one is feeling. Maybe we just flat out disagree. How can we validate them instead?

To have a team and a culture at Sterling that “love to serve each other and empower clients,” we must all work to listen to each other empathetically. Recently, we brought in Dr. Byron Bloemer of Cedar Creek Counseling to lead a workshop where we discovered how to validate others. Dr. Bloemer led this workshop using the book by Michael Sorenson, “I Hear You.”

“I hear you. I get what you're feeling, and it's perfectly alright to feel that way.” – Meaning of Validation

Dr. Bloemer makes it clear in his workshop that validation isn't agreeing with what someone is saying; instead, it's letting them know that you understand why they feel the way they do. Validation is empathy. It's putting yourself in someone else's shoes and understanding why they may feel that way. He ran us through exercises that show how powerful this skill is for establishing trust, de-escalating conflict, or calming someone down.

I Hear You,” by Michael Sorensen, is a quick read of 137 pages. “Whether you're looking to improve your relationship with your spouse, navigate difficult conversations at work, or connect on a deeper level with friends and family, this book delivers simple, practical, proven techniques for improving any relationship in your life.”

After illustrating with examples and stories in part I the power of validation, Michael Sorensen gives us the “Four-step Validation Method” in part II. Step 1: Listen Empathically. Step 2: Validate the Emotion. Step 3: Offer Advice or Encouragement. Step 4: Validate Again. In part II, Michael concludes the book with clear, real-world situations demonstrating validation put into action.

Key Takeaways from “I Hear You” by Michael Sorenson

“The truly good listener listens, seeks to understand, and then validates. The validation is the secret ingredient. Validation is the effort in helping someone feel understood,” Michael writes. He goes on to make the point that it is just as important to validate positive experiences as it is to validate more negative feelings. “Studies have shown that validating the positive experiences of others can drastically improve connections and satisfaction in a relationship.”

Validation will help you to:

  • Calm the concerns and fears of others.
  • Improve feelings of love, respect, and appreciation.
  • Resolve or even prevent arguments.
  • Give advice and feedback that is well received.
  • And importantly, respond to others when you don't know what to say.

“Remember: everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something. Remember that we are all looking for love, appreciation, and connection. And remember that, regardless of age, gender, background, or ethnicity, being listened to—and heard—is one of the greatest desires of the human heart,” Michael writes in the book.

“Validation is the act of recognizing and confirming the validation of a person's emotions. ‘I hear you and it's perfectly okay to feel that way.' Validation has two components: first, it identifies a specific emotion, and secondly, it says it's perfectly okay to feel that emotion.”

What We Learned

To identify the specific emotion, we learned that you must first empathetically hear what the person is saying. Dr. Bloemer says that to do this, “you must listen through their lens.” Then validate their feelings, don't match them. We must avoid falling into the trap of stating how someone must feel. Instead, we suggest to them how you observe what they must be feeling. Once they feel validated, you have opened the door for asking them if they want your advice or feedback. If this is a conflict you are trying to avoid, you likely will have diffused the emotions behind the conflict, and now you can address the concerns, even offer a different point of view.

Anthony Karls, President of Sterling Lawyers, reflects on what he has learned from this training, “the concept of validation has improved my ability to communicate both personally with my wife as well as professionally with co-workers.” Addressing validation and leadership, he adds, “Creating clarity is one of the most important concepts titled leaders must master to influence people to accomplish a common goal. I believe that people, with clarity, who feel validated, will reach higher and achieve greater results.”

Michael Sorenson's “I Hear You” is available on Amazon in paperback and a 3-hour audiobook. Dr. Byron Bloemer can be reached at Cedar Creek Counseling in Mequon, Wisconsin.

At Sterling Law, we believe a strong family is a family that supports each other emotionally. Different seasons of life bring different types and levels of stress. We believe a strong family is ready to bear each other's burdens and deal honestly with each other regarding the stresses each member is placing on themselves and other members of the family. The “I Hear You” book and the accompanying workshop helped us learn how to listen to each other and our clients empathetically.

Meet Us Monday is a Sterling series where we meet our team, learn about the Sterling culture, and explore the Sterling core values; finish with integrity, lead by serving, compete with a warrior spirit and embrace and drive change.

We hope these stories provide insight into building an amazing team that often wins, learns through losing, and continues to grow together.

Cedar Creek Counseling
1035 W. Glen Oaks Lane
Suite 110
Mequon, Wisconsin 53092
Phone: 262.240.0299

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