As I’ve traveled through my reflective journey on hearing and seeing others over the last few months, I’m left with one final thought--the heart of seeing and hearing others is rooted in validation.
Merriam-Webster states that “to validate” is “to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of.” So in other words, when we hear and see others, we show with our own words and actions that they are worthy. This brings me back to my original statement in post #1 that this does not mean that others always do as we ask or want, but that our actions and words are acknowledged and considered.
You are worthy. You matter. My time spent with you is not wasted. These are all beliefs and ideals that I hope I show others in my daily actions whether it is through teaching, coaching, or collaborating. But what happens when we feel as if we are validating others and yet no one validates us?
As I’ve thought about this over the last few months because of creeping and growing doubt about my own worthiness, a thought struck me. Maybe how I validate others is not the same language they use to make me feel validated. This thought came to me after lunch with one of my girlfriends in which we discussed the relationship book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The premise of this book is that we all feel love in five different ways, but each person has one of the five as the primary way we individually feel loved. The five possible languages are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Yet sometimes there is a disconnect when we don’t speak the same primary love language as others we have relationships with. The first book is written in terms of romantic partnerships, but this idea has since branched out into other books about relationships with our children and teens, in schools (grades 1-6), and workplace appreciation (I didn’t know this until I did research for this post, but now this book is on my to-read list!). My love language is “words of affirmation,” so I feel appreciation when others praise me with words. I find myself doing this often for the teachers I coach--giving them positive praise and encouragement verbally. But, what if that isn’t their language? What if my words to affirm them that mean so much to me, go on deaf ears because they aren’t in tune with the language I speak? (I have noticed this in my own marriage as my husband speaks a different primary love language!). What if others are showing me validation, but I’m missing the signs because they are not in the language I speak?
I think this has powerful applications in the workplace, especially in the form of coaching. We want to be sure to see and hear how others feel validated, even if it is in a way that doesn’t work for us. The first time I learned about validation and spent time reflecting on it was seven or eight years ago when this short movie entitled Validation went around my school district. I share it with you now to remind us all that when we see and hear others we validate them with our words and actions. We should also be mindful to the ways in which others are validating our work and remember that sometimes we could be missing validation if there is a disconnect in our communication styles. I hope the end of the year brings joy and peace to you all as well as the knowledge that you are worthy and what you spent time doing this year matters.