Validation is a primary skill in the under-valued art of deescalating an argument. It’s a weapon no man should be without. Validation turns ordinary men into leaders and allows them to cleverly control nearly every conversation – even when others are in total disagreement.

What is validation? Simply – it’s recognizing and appreciating the opinion of another. If you can master the art of conveying respect in your dialogue, you’ll find that others will often yield to your opposing view. People don’t care about being right as much as they care about being heard – sincerely heard and respected.

[quote_right]People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.[/quote_right]Validation requires the use of reflective listening – but it’s adding even more to the conversation.

Reflective listening is responding with a summary of what was said and sincerely conveying to the other person that you understand. Your tone of voice, body language and eye contact all play an integral role in reflective listening.

Bob: I can’t believe that someone stole my parking spot!

Jim: That’s the spot that you always park in, huh?

Two men disagreeingValidation improves on reflective listening. It lets the speaker know that not only do you hear what he’s saying, but you empathize with him. You share in the pain of this great tragedy and understand the turmoil and grief that a soul must endure when a parking spot is stolen.

Jim might add to his reply: That’s the spot you’ve always parked in, isn’t it? I can certainly understand why that would bug you!

Validation says, “I hear you and I can relate!”

The Parable of Validation

There once lived an evil king who used the power and might of his armies to seize control over many other lands. He charged excess tax on all the people and increased his wealth ten-fold during the course of his rule. He informed his son that he would one day concede his entire kingdom and all his worth to him.

While the son was thrilled at the thought of one day receiving his dad’s estate, he wanted to make sure the king also realized that he too was an evil tyrant – capable of great wars, decimation and destruction himself. He would often brag to his father of what the future held when he was to be king.

The king would merely nod his head in acknowledgement – proud of his son for carrying on the family tradition of death and mayhem while focusing on the almighty dollar.

But the soon-to-be prince wondered if dad believed in him at all? After all, the king never responded, assuring his son that he new he would make a wonderfully evil king. The king only nodded. Did he doubt that his son could lead armies and embrace battle in the same manner that saw the king build his vast empire over the years?

One night, in a drunken stupor, the young prince summoned a small army of men and announced his decision to attack a nearby territory that the king had not yet seized control of. This would surely show the king what a strong leader his son was!

The army of men feared for the decision to attack without preparations but they dared not defy the young man who would one day be their king. As night approached, they traveled by horse and attacked.

The attack failed – as soldiers of the unseized territory were waiting in ambush for the approaching army. They killed them all, including the king’s son – dragging the bodies through their village in celebration and roasting marshmallows on their dead carcasses while drinking of fine spirits.

The moral: Even an evil, rich prince who has everything can die an early, horrific death if he doesn’t feel his opinion is validated.

The Burger King King

This evil king was only ever responsible for creating bad-tasting burgers

Why Do People Need To Feel Validation?

Guys love to portray the image of strong, independent men – undeterred by what others think or say of them. In truth, we do care.

Social acceptance is built into our DNA. A sense of belonging is a basic need and being validated creates this belonging. The outcome is a greater feeling of self-confidence and perceived self-worth.

Social norms play an integral role into this process. Men have always been encouraged to quell their emotions but this ongoing repression creates a yearning for acceptance of our feelings.

Validating someone is providing fulfillment for an unconscious need.

Learning The Skill of Validation

The real skill of validation is navigating and controlling a conversation when a disagreement ensues.

Learning the skill of validation means learning to acknowledge and manage multiple feelings.

Always start every disagreement with a verbal acknowledgement – and recognize that it’s okay to feel separate emotions in your discussion. A man unskilled in the art of conversation will tend to grab hold of the first emotion that rises up inside and defend it with prejudice.

Recognize that contradictory feelings are a necessary part of any dispute. Understanding this and managing it means you’ve elevated your discussion skills. You’re giving consideration to the feelings of others and it’s sometimes very difficult when you feel that you’re right. It requires willpower, higher thought and it means every argument will be turned into a gentlemen’s discussion.

Consider the parking lot situation again – only this time, you want to address your objection. You would still start with your validation but make sure you are authentic before moving forward with your feelings. Validation always requires that your response is authentic. When others know you are sincere, only then will they also respect your alternative view.

How to make sure your response is authentic? Be authentic. Understand what the other person is feeling and internalize it before offering your validation.

And finally.. eloquently present your side of the argument.

That’s the spot you’ve always parked in, isn’t it? I can certainly understand why that would bug you. Although, I guess it is open parking so I can understand why someone else might grab that spot. Maybe the person was just in a hurry and needed to park close.

Reflective thinking. Validation. Counter argument.

Mission accomplished!

It’s also worth mentioning to choose your battles. In a conversation about a parking lot, it’s probably not necessary to even state your opinion. Save those strong opinions for issues that are closer to your heart and stir emotion in you.

man offering a handshakeRemember that validating someone is giving due respect. With validation, you’re not trying to change someone’s belief system. You’re simply disagreeing without ruffling feathers – something that’s never as easy as it sounds.

It’s a skill that when practiced and polished, makes you a winner every time. It also makes you a more pleasant person to talk to and you’ll find that people tend to seek you out when needing to talk to someone about a particular problem. Along with improved conversation skills, the skill of validation makes you a better listener – and just an all around “good guy” that people like.

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