Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net Validation is everything
Without validation, communication is merely a power play - Janet G. Woititz
Iíve never been great at arguing. In fact, the pressure to prove my point has often left me red faced; on the verge of tears and spluttering some half-wit fact I once read on a Wikipedia page. So lately, Iíve taken it upon myself to try to improve my ability to debate.
However, what has taught me much more than any statistic or research could - is the idea of validation in disagreement. This means that when I encounter a disagreement with someone, I should not push against them or put down their opinion; but instead validate the fact that they clearly have that opinion for a good reason. Just like how I have mine.
We all know what it feels like when someone tells us outright that our opinion is wrong. We shut down. We feel anger towards the person, and we certainly donít want to hear anything more about what they think. This can happen often with strangers and loved ones alike. And I have found it particularly problematic in intimate relationships.
Therefore, here is my new way of addressing a person who I disagree with:
1. First of all, I look at the situation from a third party perspective. From the outside. I take a moment to think: "Iím ok, youíre ok. Neither of us is wrong. Letís just look at the problem."
2. I look at the part that I am playing in the disagreement. I consider whether or not my emotions are getting in the way of us having a proper discussion.
3. I look at it from the point of view of the person I disagree with, and consider how they may be feeling about it.
4. I validate the fact that they feel what they feel or think whatever they think. Whether I like it or not; this is how they think, and fighting against them will not change their mind.
5. I feel gratitude towards them for teaching me something new about myself; or a different way to see things.
Remember, validating someone is not agreeing with them; it is simply looking at the disagreement from an open perspective and with respect for everyone involved. The only chance you have to change someoneís mind is to validate the opinion they have to begin with.