When was the last time you had a conversation with someone you didn’t see eye-to-eye with and they said, “You know? You make sense. I can totally see why you’d think that.”
It’s a pretty safe bet that doesn’t happen very often. As we’ve said before, most of us are taught to talk at or around or over each other rather than listen to each other to truly understand.
It’s a cultural thing and won’t be changing anytime soon. But YOU can make a change with your next conversation. YOU can begin a new habit of letting people know you hear and understand them (mirroring) and that even though you may not share their particular opinion, you still regard THEM as a valid human being.
You see, when we dismiss or ignore someone’s opinions, ideas, thoughts, or feelings, we are essentially dismissing them. We all have our own experiences in life, and it’s those experiences that shape who we are, what we believe, the values we hold – all the things. Who are we to say that someone’s experiences, and how they’ve impacted them, are not valid? Well, that’s what we are doing (however unconsciously) when we fail to validate others in conversation.
What does this look like in conversation?
It looks something like this: say you’re talking with someone about politics (dangerous, we know). That person says something you don’t agree with AT ALL. Normally, you may scoff, show some other sign of disagreement, or maybe tell that person that they’re crazy, or worse, that they’re a bad person for believing what they do.
But thankfully, you have learned that it’s the relationship that needs tending, not your ego, so you listened with kindness to what they said. Now, you mirror back to them that they think “politician so-and-so is just what we need in Washington“.
Then, they let you know you got it, and you can say, “Hmm, I see. Well, given your political stance, that makes sense. I can see why you’d think she’s the right person for the job.”
Even though you don’t agree with them, you still let them know that they make sense – that THEY are what matters, not the opinions they hold.
Again, validating one another is so important. It shows that our relationships can weather even the most polarizing opinions because, through the skill of validation, we can connect beyond our differences.