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Mental Health

(Sample) Validations & positive points: Try this — observe reactions to validations

This is part 3 of 3 of the “Validations and positive points” pathway from our Mental Health program designed to help employees have positive conversations about Mental Health

🎯 To sum it up

Validations justify, and positive points empower. Together, they’re practical, situation-specific ways of telling someone “I hear you.” and, “You’ve got this under control.” while strengthening your connection.

Here’s an action you can carry out in your usual conversations this week to embed this takeaway.

Opens Animation Cartoon by @Mytikah.gif in a new tab to view in higher resolution

Animation Cartoon by @mytikah.

💪 Your action for this week: use validations whenever you can

It’s easy to find opportunities to give validations and express positive points. They’re everywhere. In fact, you’ll have a chance to practise validations and positive points in practically every conversation you have this week.

This practice is best suited to real-time conversations in person or over video or voice call.

✅ Step 1: Listen out for an opportunity.

This is any time someone shares something in pursuit of some sort of connection. It might not seem obviously ’emotional’. It might be positive, negative or neutral.

✅ Step 2: As the first thing you say in response, validate how they feel.

Common validating phrases include:

“It’s normal to ______.”

“Anyone would ______ in your situation.”

“Given what you’ve gone through, it’s not surprising that ______.”

✅ Step 3: Pause and observe what happens. Appreciating the impact of every validation will help the behaviour stick. Pay attention to:

  • 🪑 Body language (a weight lifted from their shoulders, perhaps)
  • 😌 Face (they may not look ‘happy’, but they might be processing the emotion more fully)
  • 💬 Words
  • ⏸️ Pauses
  • 🌬️ A sigh or exhale
  • 🧭 What they share next or where the conversation goes

✅ Step 4: As they begin to share more, draw out positive points.

Point out something about their actions or approach to empower them. Common phrases for positive points include:

“It took strength/courage/bravery/insight for you to ______.”

“This shows that you ______.”

✅ Step 5: Observe what happens. Appreciating the impact of positive points will help the behaviour stick. Did the positive point help to reframe their situation? Do they seem to feel more empowered and aware of how they can take control?

📧 A note on these skills in digital correspondence

Look closely, and you may find opportunities to validate your contacts and highlight positive points in your digital communications, such as your emails or instant messages.

It’s harder to gauge someone’s reaction through these channels — but try to use these skills whenever you have the opportunity.

If you get any results, share your experience in this group.

👋 Before you go…

Do you intend to carry out this action?

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📚 Further resources

The single best thing you can do for your relationship, Dr Shannon Kolakowski for HuffPost

How to help a friend through a tough time, according to a clinical psychologist, Kathryn Gordon for Vox

Steps to meaningful affirmation, Appreciation at Work

💬 What do you think?

What are some of the different reactions you have noticed when you validate someone?

Read next: Turn a conversation into a way forward

This forms part of the Reflect & Encourage pathway in Mental Health Works, a program designed in partnership with Mental Health Innovations — the UK's leading digital mental health charity. This resource focuses on how to use reflections and encourages to help your conversation partners feel better understood.