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Validating in Conversation

Validating in Conversation

Communication Challenges is easily the most common struggle couples discuss with us.  Validation is one piece of advice that can help improve yours and your partner's conversations.

"Communication Challenges is easily the most common struggle couples discuss with us."

In my years of working with couples, I've had the chance to explore this topic further on a quest to specify: what is it about communication that makes it such a challenge for many?

I remember talking to my husband one day sharing something burdening my heart, and in hoping to receive some empathy and validation, instead I was faced with a solution to what I had presented - it wasn't what I was looking for.

Had I not been exposed to years of counselling practice, I simply wouldn't have the knowledge and words to recognize exactly what I was needing in my conversation with my husband.  I share this bit of my personal experience to say, "I get it".  Even Psychologists aren't imune and we all face the same communication challenges from time to time.

If i can provide one piece of advice to be a better communicator I would summarize it in one word - Validation.  Validation is a key element that can take you and your partner's communication to a much deeper and more valuable level.

So what is it and what does Validation in Communication sound like?

According to the dictionary, validation is described as, 'the act of affirming a person (their ideas, feelings, actions) as acceptable and worthy' (

In other words, it's the act of helping someone else feel accepted and understood. Pretty powerful stuff!

In working with couples, a common exercise we engage in is the practice of validation. This can range from simple statements to more thorough statements including a reflection/paraphrase.

Here are some example of simple statements:
     ...I get that
     ...yes that makes sense to me
     ...Of course, I'd feel the same
     ...That sounds really tough

And when we include the work of paraphrasing, this could sound like:
     ..So you're saying that 'x' and 'y' make you feel angry. I get that.
     ...I hear you say when 'x' is said it makes you shut down. I understand.

The beautiful thing about validation is it can even come through our body language; the simple act of being present and affirming with our head nods and expressions can make an incredible difference in your communication ability.

Teaming up with a Refresh psychologist to learn important communication strategies and skills, such as validation, can positively impact your relationships. We can coach you at your own pace and as always, hold no negative judgment as we understand these skills take practice!


Sara Alia, MC (R. Psych, Prov)

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