Validation Isn't What We Think It is
I've been watching a few de-escalation videos online to see what other people are doing. Most start with VALIDATION as a key part of helping someone come down from an intense emotion, as does my workshop. But it looks like most presenters offer a pretty vague explanation of validation.
They may describe it as IDENTIFYING what the person is feeling:
"You are feeling really angry right now." or "It looks like you are really sad."
They may include conveying an UNDERSTANDING of that emotion or the person's right to feel that way:
"It makes sense that you are sad." or "I get that you are really angry now."
But do you? Do you really get it? How can the person who is feeling so overwhelmed know for sure that you understand the particular anguish that they are feeling? Most of us feel completely alone in our torment. And how can they be sure you don't judge them for feeling this way?
This is precisely the point where most attempts to validate fall short and emotions escalate rather than de-escalate or the person shuts down completely and stops communicating. That's because correctly labelling an emotion and conveying an understanding is not the same as validation. Validation requires proof that you truly GET IT, without hi-jacking their emotion and turning it into a story about you and your experiences.
Some people instantly convey a sense of "getting it-ness" through their nonverbal cues: facial expressions, empathetic tears in their eyes, appropriate tone or gestures. We know that NONVERBAL CUES communicate an incredible amount of information--- often more than words---but this type of communication is hard to teach. Most people either do it instinctively or they don't. So, relying on nonverbal cues can be a hit or miss strategy.
My workshop gives you an established script which ensures that you give proof of "getting it" every time you validate, rather than leaving it up to chance. Having a script ensures that you won't rush over this critical step in pursuit of the very human desires to fix, reassure, console, redirect, or problem-solve. As an added bonus, because the script holds you in the validation zone a bit longer than you would normally stay without a script, it will likely evoke in you the appropriate non-verbal cues as well.
And it's easy to learn. So why not fill out this form TO LEARN MORE?