Validation deescalates a conflict faster than anything else because it is the opposite of arguing against someone. Feeling seen, heard, and understood helps people connect in a deeper way. Be patient with yourself when trying to use validating statements. This is a skill that takes practice, like any skill. But the payoff for the practice is worthwhile.
How to validate:
1) Check your righting reflex. Validation isn't about helping someone see the error in their thinking - in fact, that's invalidating - it's about meeting someone right where they are now. When you validate someone's experience, it does not mean you agree or that you believe their thoughts, feelings, or actions are justified. It simply means you are present and acknowledge their truth, as it is, here and now.
2) Seek understanding. What emotions are they experiencing? What sensations do they hear, see, touch, etc.? What beliefs or interpretations of the event(s) led to these emotions? Does this situation remind them of another experience in their history? You may already know the answer to some of these but ask questions if you need.
3) Summarize the what and the why. Show that you understand their experience by reflecting it back out loud. Here is a simple formula to follow:
It makes sense to me that you feel _____________________________
It makes sense to me that you feel frustrated and hurt
because it seemed like your needs weren't important to me when I forgot to put away the dishes.
Marsha Linehan's Six Levels of Validation