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 I’m doing, I will go through the different strategies of validation.
Strategy Two: Reflect back
So, since you are a good student and have been practicing the first validation strategy in the validation strategy series, it’s time to add on. This next validation strategy is a way for you to stay engaged and check for understanding.
"Reflecting back" is simply echoing back what the person is saying, or stating what you observed, making sure that you are actively listening, comprehending, and tracking what’s being said. When you reflect back, you give validation to the other person, and proov that what they said is being heard and understood. In the end, isn’t that what we all want!?!
Here’s a few admittedly lame examples: "When I was late to dinner you thought I did it on purpose and were mad. Did I get that right?" "So I’m hearing that you would really want me to take out the trash every other day." "Sounds like you are in a lot of pain still from that surgery."
Key point: No judgement, be open minded, truly seek to understand. Be aware of sarcasm, tone and body language (an eye roll or a sigh or mocking tone while reflecting back is a recipe for disaster!). The goal is to connect and promote more openness with the other person and a judgemental vibe will shut that down.
Alright you crazy kid, go out there and give it a try! You may not do it perfectly, but that's ok. Keep trying and watch your communication and connection improve!