Validation, Problem Solving, and the Art of Giving Advice

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

Have you found yourself trying to offer advice and solutions to a problem your significant other is having? Instead of them being grateful or happy with you trying to help they get angrier and argumentative. Do you wonder why this is happening and figure out how to overcome the communication breakdown? Let’s try to understand this situation and how to solve it.

It is amazing when we give advice and help our significant other with a problem. It means that we care. But why does it seem to fall on deaf ears and create more argumentation in the household than it should? 

Often, we do not remember that when someone shares a problem, they are also looking for validation. They are looking to us to see the point, see their pain, and understand their needs as a person. They want us to understand that they have feelings and look to us to validate that it is okay that they feel the way they do. 

Most times we provide a solution before we validate. Often it is hard to validate. We may not be thinking about it or we don’t feel that it is a part of our duty. When we listen to our partner, the pain they have suffered, or the current situation, we are just saying that we hear you and understand you. We get that they have gone through some pain, and it’s good to try and find a solution to let go of the pain and find some constructive help. 

Now that we have created a foundation of mutual respect, we can now offer our constructive help. The greatest thing about it now is that they will pay attention because we have validated them. We have shown that we are on their side and now we are also showing that we want to help them fix the problem. 

Four things will help you when you go into these types of situations to prepare yourself as well as be able to interact and have a conversation. It is important to get this right otherwise we feel as though we are walking on eggshells. 

First, the other person wants to be heard. They want to know that we understand where they are coming from. 

The second thing is that they want our support. They want to know that you are on their side. 

Thirdly, they do not want to look stupid. Whenever someone is trying to solve a problem and they are not able to, they already feel like they are not on top of it. Sometimes when we go in with a solution and have advice for them it can seem not genuine. It may the other person feel like you are making fun of them. When we are providing a solution, we need to remind them that we have been in a similar situation and that the advice we are giving has worked for us. Get their feelings on what you are suggesting.

Lastly, we need to remember that the negative broken record that exists in our head, colors what other people around us say. It makes us feel that someone may have said something in more of a negative way or a judgmental way. 

Our significant other may have that negative broken record about not being as valuable or having low self-worth. They may be questioning their problem-solving ability. When we are talking to them, they already have a negative personal bias about themselves. We must be careful not to play into the negative bias. This is when the argument or fight takes place. They believe that we are not on their side because of their thought process. They also believe we are making fun of them because they can’t solve the problem. 

If we can understand that a lot of the problems that come into the situation are based in their mind, we need to be positive and confident. We must also take their side and show them support before we ever offer a solution.  

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2 Responses

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