N4L 124: "I Hear You" by Michael Sorensen


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After learning important communication skills, author Michael Sorensen decided to “pay it forward” by writing I Hear You: The Surprisingly Simple Skill Behind Extraordinary Relationships. Especially powerful is the skill of validation, which Sorensen packages in a 4-Step Validation Process.


  • Validation – showing we understand another’s emotions; the act of helping someone feel heard
  • Validating ourselves – practicing self-compassion; vital for getting past our own self-criticism and for allowing space to feel our emotions without judgment
  • Micro validation – a short comment or response showing engagement and understanding that affirms the validity of a person’s emotions or opinions
  • Re-validation – reiterating your initial understanding of others, including expressing appreciation for any vulnerability they may have exposed
  • “The iPhone Effect” – the mere presence of a smartphone can lessen the quality of a conversation—even if it’s just sitting on the table (2014 study)
  • Listening mistakes: leading responses with “I”; inserting “but” between understanding and your feedback; using absolutes such as “always” and “never.”


  • “There’s a difference between being listened to and being heard, and…we as humans crave both.”
  • “Communication experts suggest that as much as 70 percent of our communication is nonverbal—meaning it’s delivered via body language, tone of voice, etc.”
  • “While rephrasing what you’ve heard is a valuable tool, validation shows an understanding of the other person’s emotions and the ‘why’ behind them.”
  • “Giving unsolicited advice or assurance—especially before you validate the other person’s emotions—trivializes their experience.”
  • “Claiming to know ‘exactly’ how someone feels nearly always puts the other person on defense.”
  • “Learning to identify your own emotions will increase your ability to feel empathy for others.”
  • “Matching another person’s energy is a critical part of effective validation.”
  • “When someone shares a personal experience or emotion with you, they make themselves emotionally vulnerable…in an effort to find support.”

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