Validation has a bad rap lately. It’s become a term used to diagnose someone who is needy and seeking assurance. It’s a textbook leadership no-no. If you need validation, the story goes, you better dig deep and find your own.
I’m not here to deny that being able to validate yourself is about one of the best skills a human being can acquire. But sometimes, frequently, it might be nice to actually be validated by others as well. Like most leadership ideas, it helps if you’re willing to pioneer the way. This means you might need to be the one DOING the validating. If you’re rusty in the validation department, here’s a cheat sheet that might help you:
I can’t believe you’ve created this amazing thing!
You’ve taught me so much.
I wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.
I see how hard you’re working.
You know, I can see how hard your path is right now.
I want you to know, even though this is a challenging moment, I have so much faith in your ability.
I’m so proud of how you show up every time the pressure is on.
I know those hours you’ve been working are hard on you.
I can always rely on you to help me out when I get stuck.
Your words were amazing today.
Nobody else could have reached that group like you did.
Thank you for letting my introvert rest and not have to lead that conversation.
I appreciate you picking things up in that meeting when I started to stumble.
I could never do this with anybody else but you.
You have such a great way of putting people at ease.
I love how fiery you can get in defense of your people!
I am sure this is the last thing you feel like doing.
It’s no big deal.
I love a good challenge.
Really? That? It was no problem
Thank you…I guess!
You don’t need to thank me for that.
No. It is a big deal. I want you to know that I see you and I see what you’re doing. I’m grateful for you.
Nothing. Because they’re glowing inside. And they’re stunned, because you just may be the first person in their lives to offer validation in this type of way.
This type of validation should not be offered in a performance review. Nor should it be part of a feedback sandwich (ugh, I feel gross just writing that). It should be routine. A frequent part of any conversation you have with the people you love and/or care about. It can feel awkward at first. Likely it will make the recipient feel flustered or embarrassed. But keep at it. Because nothing can top the feeling of being seen and heard as a human being.
Susan McCusker is the co-founder of The Circle Up Experience. She and her partner, Beth Killough, offer people the opportunity to interact with horses in order to learn more about themselves, reconnect with the natural elements of leadership, and transform their human herds.