|Dr. Sidney B. Simon|
In my life-long career as a teacher, I’ve had the good fortune to learn from some of the best. One of those teachers who grabbed my heart and mind is Sid Simon. Nowadays, Sid is retired as Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, but our first encounter was in Ann Arbor, Michigan, when I taught there. His book, Values Clarification, his engaging presentations, and his heartwarming manner made a huge impact on my life and my teaching.
A dozen years later, Sid landed in Bakersfield for a two-day intensive workshop. This is when I learned about the power of the language of validation and how heartfelt, genuine, affirming words change lives. Near the end of the workshop, after many personal exchanges among participants, Sid presented the concept of validation and provided a list of ways to begin. We practiced on each other; visibly basking in the glow of the words we’d heard and the words we’d spoken.
I came across Sid Simon’s validation sentence stems recently in a book called Love Builders;Powerful Validation Tools to Enhance Every Relationship that Sid co-wrote with Sally Crosiar. They are reminders of how we can speak to envelop those whom we love with validation. Try some of these:
I appreciate… (how you have… that you… the ability you have to …)
I like … (the way you… when I see you… the times when you…)
I respect you… (for how you… every time I see you… because you’re a person who…)
I admire you… (for your gift of… for your way of… for how you can…)
I applaud … (your ability to… your courage in… your discipline when…)
I celebrate… (your … the ways you… the talents you…)
As we begin to use the language of validation more frequently, it may feel strange or sound mechanical. But practice and positive feedback in words and deeds will help using these words become a natural part of us. Spoken in a genuine, meaningful way, without qualifying statements or “buts”, the language of validation feeds the souls of our loved ones.
“Buts” negate the validation and chip away at the bond we try to create. For example, “I admire your way of creating a beautiful home, but it drives me nuts to never know what color the walls are going to be when I walk through the door.” This roller coaster statement, with its ups and downs rings an alarm bell instead of making the listener feel valued. No “buts” about it.
So go ahead. Try out the language of validation on those whom you love. Dish out encouragement by surrounding them with affirmations and acknowledgement of their gifts and talents. Everyone wins.
~ xoA ~