Sunday, January 11, 2009

Curious about Validation: As a Close Cousin of Appreciation and Recognition, Validation Gives the Receivers a Lift

When I was 13, I told Henry Winkler I wanted to act. He said, Do it and don't let anyone stand in your way. His validation just made it all the more true. I haven't stopped thanking him since.” - Marlee Matlin, American actress

Even though I found only a few quotations that used the word “validation” I will still stress its importance to both the giver and the receiver. I chose it as this week’s theme because Alex Mandossian wrote about it in his excellent blog and recommended a short movie on YouTube called, “Validation.” Give yourself the 16 minute gift of this movie. I have actually watched it three times already.

Yes, I have also written blogs in the past about appreciation and recognition – both are forms and types of validation – so I will include several of those quotations. The important message here is to realize how we all hunger for validation and so often don’t receive it as appreciation and/or recognition.

If we have weaknesses or areas where we are prone to making mistakes, we hear about those, but are seldom praised for strengths, talents, skills or obvious attributes. I challenge you to notice what is special about another person and praise them for it. Note that I am not suggesting a lack of sincerity. I think you can find something special about everyone – just as Hugh does in the movie.

I have become quite active on Facebook. If I see a photo of a new friend who has a terrific smile, I am sure to comment on it. Not all of the photos give you many clues, but you can often find an area for validation.

I feel that Dale Carnegie said it all, “You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world's happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”

Here are a few quotations to consider:
  • Mother Teresa felt that, “There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”
  • The logic of validation allows us to move between the two limits of dogmatism and skepticism.” - Paul Ricoeur, French philosopher
  • There are two things people want more than sex and money... recognition and praise.” - Mary Kay Ash, American businesswoman
  • There are two kinds of taste, the taste for emotions of surprise and the taste for emotions of recognition.” - Henry James, American writer
  • If my work was about anything, it was about the search for identity, for personal recognition, for acceptance, for communion, and for a big country. I've always felt that's why people come to my shows, because they feel that big country in their hearts.” - Bruce Springsteen, American musician
  • Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.” - Abraham Lincoln, American President

Take a moment to think about what you appreciate about your family members, friends, employees, and students. Then tell them.

Follow the advice of Margaret Cousins, “Appreciation can make a day - even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” Let me know what happens.