In therapy, we look at ways to build relationships through effective communication. There are some basic ways to help people feel connected and, in psycho-babble terms, they're called "validation strategies". If any of your relationships feel strained or if you just want to enhance an already kick ass relationship, do more validating!!! In this little series im doing, I will go through the different strategies and of validation.
Strategy one: show up!
Duh. If you want to connect or make someone feel heard or seen you need to create a situation where that's possible. Making yourself available, setting up a time to talk, or answering a call or text or in person request is validating. It makes the person feel they are important. I can't tell you the number of times that I've talked to couples who feel hurt or invalidated because they never see their partner. Similarly, I've seen friendships get ruined or dissolved because the friends never see each other.
But don't just be a warm body. Actually show up. Eliminate distraction. Turn off the TV....even if you're in the middle of binge watching your latest Netflix show, there's this nifty thing they have called the "pause button" now and I would highly suggest using it. Put away the phone. Or if you're on the phone or texting, don't be watching TV and driving and painting your nails or whatever else you might be tempted to do. Focus on the conversation at hand. People notice. They care. I'm sure you like feeling attended to, so this is a great time to practice the "golden rule" and do that kindness to someone else.
Internal distractions should also be reduced. These might include, but not be limited to: making a grocery list, planning what to say next, judging the other person, daydreaming, physical pain or fatigue or hunger. Do your best to notice and eliminate as much as possible. In the case of pain or fatigue or hunger, I suggest saying something up front like "hey, just so you know I'm super tired, I'm doing the best I can, just don't want you to take it personally in case I yawn or something. I'm here. I'm listening."
Challenge: practice showing up today. Make an effort to fully arrive and listen. It will help your relationships and make you feel good about yourself. Now go get 'em tiger!