Validation: an investment in healthy relationships

Posted on October 25, 2023

Do those around you feel validated?

Gartner recently reported that 4 of the top 5 drivers of employee attrition relate to the 3rd space: people’s decisions to leave employers are primarily driven by the quality of their relationships with their manager and co-workers. These relationships either validate them as a person or drive employees to seek more constructive relationships elsewhere.

Validation is an act of intimacy that signals to those we care about that they are seen, heard and valued.

Validation is giving our time without distraction. Validation is listening without judgement. Validation is affirming without sympathy. Validation is being vulnerable without caveat. Validation is asking their opinion and genuinely wanting to know their answer.

Validation lies at the heart of healthy relationships. At work. In our social groups. In our community. And especially in families: our life partners; our children; our parents; our siblings.

As relationships age, we too often take for granted the positive attributes of others and instead choose to Red Bus what we judge to be their shortcomings. Or worse again, we ride the Green Bus and fail to acknowledge them at all. A Red Bus rebuke from a partner, parent or sibling may sting but it hurts less than the dull ache that comes from Green Bus cold-shoulder of being ignored.

Three decades ago, American relationship researcher John Gottman coined the term ‘bids for connection‘ to describe the little f micro-signals that couples send to each other when they seek validation. In healthy relationships, partners pick up on these bids and ‘turn towards’ their partner’s needs. In unhealthy relationships, bids for connection are met with contempt or avoidance as partners ‘turn away’. So marked are these contrasts – and the relationship dynamics they set up – that Gottman was able to predict to near 90% accuracy whether or not newly wed couples would divorce in less than six years.

You can see The Gottman Institute explain the role that bids for connection play in healthy relationships here.

While Gottman’s research related to married couples, his findings equally apply to all ‘significant other’ relationships as well as parent’s relationship with their children, young and old.

And in many years of taking The Blue Bus™ into organisations, we also know that most organisations are full of committed, capable people whose bids for connection too often go unheard & unseen.

So while we shouldn’t wait to be prompted to validate those closest to us, we need to be attentive to bids for connection. They may be telling us that we’re overdue in making a deposit in the relationship account.

Which Bus do you choose to drive when those closest to you make a bid for connection?

The Blue Bus is a unique transformational vehicle that is revolutionising how we rapidly transform leaders, people, teams and organisations to adapt and thrive in exponential changing times. By using experiential learning we help you develop a sustainable culture of excellence in everything that you do.
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