Validate me.

stamp of approval

 

Thank you for listening to me when you had other important things to do.

 

When you had the courage to tell the truth in that meeting yesterday, it changed everything.

 

You have a way of making me laugh at just the right time.

 

When is the last time someone said something like this to you? What happened inside of you when you heard it? Every one of us offers gifts of all kinds to the world every day. We give, we sacrifice, we take risks, we entertain, we love, we support… and a lot of it goes unnoticed. When it is noticed, though, it’s amazing. When someone sees that little something about you or picks up on your hard work and calls it out, it’s like getting a stamp of approval.

 

Years ago I led a small group of high school girls through an experience we called an “encouragement circle”. We focused on each girl, one at a time, with everyone around the circle specifically describing what was amazing and unique about her. As we went around the circle, the girls did an amazing job at validating each other with really specific and potent words. One of the girls, though, didn’t quite get it. When it was her turn, she would look at the person in the center and say “You’re just…. Really nice. And like, really sweet.” Every time. Same thing. By the time we finished the exercise, no one could keep a straight face when it was her turn. Her words were not only meaningless, they had become something of a joke. One of the girls said to me later “I’ve known her since 7th grade but it’s like she doesn’t know me at all”.

Yesterday we reflected on being a good noticer (how’d you do with that?). Being a good noticer also helps you to be a good validator. Noticing and validating are like the peas and carrots of relationships. When you notice something unique and wonderful about someone else and tell them that you noticed it, something powerful happens in your brain and in theirs. Knowing and being known by others is a primal human need. The whole process – focusing your brain, being present, noticing things and articulating that back to another person – it’s like a cranial multi-vitamin.

 

Make today a validation day. Do better than “You’re really nice”. Change another person’s day by telling them what you’ve noticed. You’ll both be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

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