Holiday was out of the picture, and work came immediately occupying that week. From time to time of running a business, I have a preference of handling customers personally. Meetings took places in informal situations such as their homes, offices, or at a small group agreed to gathered at a friend’s apartment. These relations eventually flourished over time, like close friends. During each conversation,my part was mostly assertive, less feelings involved. Doing more listening to the selected topics, such as new sports trend,travelling stories up to communing certain spiritual perspectives.
Now and then the small talks grew more meaningful than just a business meeting. I was astound to learned that many of them was opening up to me, like the lid of an overloaded container. Not just one person, a handful of them.
Sometimes I was quite startled to hear the level of confidentiality of the information they choose to share. Either critical work issues, personal finance and health, to such extent, a specific family feud. They have their reputation at stake in these confided stories . Posing to keep my response as natural as possible, I didn’t showed them the wilderness of my thoughts.
Making a good effort of staying calm, and full of consideration in responding to the revelations they made.
Simply one would ask, why did they chose me to devoured their deepest secrets?
Isn’t sharing your vulnerable side takes utmost trust instead of talking to just someone you barely know for short period of time? What happened to their best friends, don’t they deserved more to have this kind of privilege ? Or they just don’t give a damn anymore about who to disclosed an information. It was questions that I soon discovered the answers.
The answer is, to validate feelings.
Strangers are fresh new starts
Jumped to a taxi and engaging in a small talk with the driver, you could temporarily be that person you wanted to be. Anyone at all. How soothing the thought of talking to someone from a clean slate. Building a new existence even for just a short-period of time. Completely burden-free from judgements and bias listening. Strangers are mostly on your side in the story version you tell.
We are immediately auto-protected from people asking about what we do and what we don’t do as a head-start of comparative judgement.
It felt liberated to be able to stop talking any minute at all. Indulged in a comfortable silence as the unsolicited new person ventured in, just to be the momentarily attentive listener of our journey.
Gushing out our wounds seem easier, free of charge, and unobligated in answering anything we hesitated. Leaving you a clear-headed feeling, and if lucky, the stranger can turned out to be that amazing person you always looking for, making insane suggestions, and finished each other sentences.
Nearly the epitome of those serendipity movies.
Discretion did not became an essential part of the deal anymore. Since restless mind often bear the consequences of just being in what it seems the perfect timing to pour it all out. Stories unfold based only on a single intuition. Feelings.
That warm feelings of being validated
“Your secrets save with me”, were never uttered from my mouth as an advertising to get her to spill the tea. When a colleague business of mine decided to divulged her intention to divorce a 18-years of marriage-husband, she confided to me gladly. In a wealthy mansion of own by her family, she did not see any harm, though I was only an acquaintance she met three weeks before.
How did this occurred? I was so surprised that moment to be puzzled by the actual reason.
Was it really hard these days to get a decent listener who validates your heartbreak? Because it turns out validation is a major subject in human interaction that build with empathy.
We can’t help to see, that amongst us, avoiding other people’s drama is very much foreseen. Some might enjoy the sad story as a bad mechanism of being grateful—since we don’t experienced/end up like the tragedy. Less compassionate, I know, but it is an everyday reality in our society.
Even close friends might one, or two times simplified our dilemmas,because they didn’t considered it as something serious, or failed to validate the situation. The bigger picture is validation might come difficult when we coming out short for our own problems, let alone others.
To validate is not about forcing yourself to take sides. It is rather an emotional expression of accepting what their feelings really were.
A welcoming committee of pain, sadness, the confusion, the anger, and the hurt by saying “its alright. I get it.” It was never about justifying a person’s behavior, and it certainly never about fixing it with solution. You only have to BE THERE. That’s why,the first key to validation is to be present. Be there not just physically, but altogether emotionally.
Unless your middle name is misery, and your dream is to be the unnecessary hero for other’s, your silver linings advice would be the least of what your troubled partner,family or friend needs. In the midst of them imploring their shame and sharing it to you, they need to be heard first.
“You can start by shifting your mind into more positive frames..” or a notion of blame “you should’ve said it earlier, its too late now..” are responses that would immediately cancelled all your positions as a validator with empathy.
Because the next step of validation according to Dr. Marsha Linehan, an American Psychologist is the accuracy of reflection. Putting the hurt party’s feelings into words and confirming it.
“I can recall that feeling of exhausted in your story..” or “So you must’ve really shocked when you heard the news?”
Empathy sometimes takes more attention to grasp the other person feelings. In a book by Brene Brown : I Thought it Was Just Me (But It Isn’t) (2008), a nursing scholar Theresa Wiseman’s addresses four attributes of empathy :
• To be able to see the world as others see it—This requires a clear understanding that this is concerning your friend’s feelings, and not about your issues.
• To be nonjudgmental—Judgement of another person’s situation discounts the experience and is an attempt to protect ourselves from the pain of the situation. Remember that not everyone has the same perspectives in life.
• To understand another person’s feelings—We have to be in touch with our own feelings in order to understand someone else’s. Not how you would react on it, but more of how you feel when it happened.
• To communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings—Rather than saying, “At least you…” or “It could be worse…” it would be nice if we can say things like : “it sounds complicated and confusing to you. You might want to tell me more about it.”
If we could infused a little sense of connection in someone’s soul, imagine what would it do to the rest of the world that thinks of the same thing?
A writer and entrepreneur with profound interest in humankind research and insights. An avid coffee drinker and book hoarder. Hours and days spent in Jakarta.