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2 Steps To Improve Your Relationship With Anyone

Written by: Fern Weis, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


The top skills I learned in my coach training were to acknowledge and validate feelings. We spent months on it. Why? Because it is every person’s need and desire to be heard and understood. All improvement in relationships of any kind begin here.

These skills have saved me too many times to count. When I’m feeling attacked, on the defensive, and think I know best. You name it, I’ve been there. And I’m guessing you’ve been there, too.

When I can truly listen, without an agenda, that’s when the magic happens.

What does it mean to acknowledge?

To acknowledge is to reflect what you see and hear in the other person. Simple, right?

In theory, yes. In practice… well, it takes practice and the ability to put your own feelings to the side and be present for another.

This can be difficult, especially when you want to share your own thoughts, help, fix, or convince someone you know better. But relationships are about both people involved, whether it’s a partner, child, parent, or co-worker.

The bottom line is to create a connection with the person in front of you. To show you can be trusted to listen, to receive their thoughts and feelings – regardless of whether you agree with them or not.

What does acknowledging sound like?

It’s not complicated. You listen as carefully as you can and then share what you see and hear:

  • You sound... (frustrated/annoyed)

  • That must have been… (challenging/difficult).

  • I hear how… (distressing, embarrassing) that was for you.

You get the idea: insert the word that fits best.

This works and you know it does because it works for you. If you’re like most people, you confide in the person who gives you room to share, who doesn’t interrupt or try to make it better. This person listens. Period.

What does it mean to validate?

This skill is critical, especially for people who minimize or hide their feelings. Emotions must be accepted and normalized.

This goes double for children and teens. They often receive the message to get over their feelings, that things aren’t as bad as they seem. This will stunt their emotional growth.

While it may be true that the situation isn’t a crisis, having feelings is normal. To be human is to have feelings. End of discussion. And when feelings are repressed, they grow out of proportion and keep children and adults from accepting themselves and enjoying their life.

What does validation sound like?

This one is easy. Here you go:

  • It’s understandable that you’d feel that way, given what happened to you.

  • It’s totally normal to feel that way after what you experienced.

And here’s the reminder again: it’s irrelevant whether you agree with the feeling or not. Your goal is to help normalize and neutralize the feeling so this person can move on.

If you never master any other skill, please take these to heart. Learn and practice them. They are your key to growing healthy, loving, trusting relationships.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Fern Weis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Fern Weis is a certified Life Coach who supports parents of teens. Her children's teen years were difficult ones and Fern is dedicated to helping parents and teens have a smoother journey than her family did. She shares her learning from personal experiences, two coaching certifications, 13 years of classroom teaching, and 12 years of coaching. Fern helps parents lead with love, instead of fear. They become more confident, improve communication skills, build a loving and trusting relationship, and set clear realistic boundaries. Parents become better able to help their teens grow into successful, resilient adults who thrive, whatever life brings. To jump-start your parenting skills, she offers a free communication guide, '5 Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk', available on her website.



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