#352- Validating vs. Invalidating Conversations
How do you react when someone says you have upset them? Perhaps they took something personally that you didn’t intend. Do you get defensive or accuse them of overreacting? Or do you actually listen to how they feel? When in a defensive state, all you hear is blame and shame for what you have done, believing you’re the bad guy. To prove you did nothing wrong, you invalidate them by saying they are being overly sensitive. It’s hard to take responsibility for causing pain so you want to make it their problem, not yours. Listening with empathy instead of defending your position or shaming them for how they feel is the difference between validating and invalidating communication.
Let’s say you text someone a snarky comment that hurts their feelings. You didn’t mean to upset them (it was a joke!), but you did. First, acknowledge they are hurt and allow them to feel that way without judgment. You can say you didn’t mean to upset them, and you’re sorry it had an impact—even if you don’t understand their feelings. Conversely, if you’re on the receiving end of the text, you can explain why it upset you without making them the bad guy. Having this kind of open communication where you are both sharing without personalizing or getting defensive will bring you closer. Invalidating conversations create resentment and distance. You always have a choice in how you respond, so the next time you unintentionally hurt someone (or vice versa), open up, sharing and listening without judgment, rather than shutting down. Closeness is created when you give importance to other people’s feelings.
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