That is what my husband said to me a few weeks ago. Needless to say, working from home and in close quarters with hubby for more than three months and continuing does have its moments. So- on one of those days, I was grumpy.

My response to him was simple, “Don’t deny me my emotions!”

What hubby was unknowingly engaging in, was emotional invalidation which has been defined as “… the act of rejecting, dismissing, or minimizing someone else’s thoughts and feelings. It implies that a person’s experience is not important, wrong, or unacceptable. It is a damaging form of emotional abuse, which makes the recipient filled with self-doubt.” ( /what-is-psychological-invalidation-how-it-happens-and-its-effects/)

Examples of such invalidation are statements that we have probably all used without realizing their impact. They include: “You shouldn’t feel that way.”, “Just get over it.”, “It could be worse.” or “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.” , “I know  exactly what you’re going through.” or “I’m not going to discuss it with you”. (Id.)  Or, “don’t be so dramatic.” “Deal with it!”; “Why are you making such a big deal over it?” or “You can’t be serious”( (Hereinafter “Noll”)

The problem with these types of responses is that they ignore that we are 98% emotional and 2% rational.” Every decision, every behavior, every motivation, experience is driven by our emotions.” (Noll at 3.) Yet, by our body language, such as a flinch, a facial expression, a shrug of the shoulders et cetera, we engage in this behavior unconsciously. (Id.)

Instead of my hubby telling me not to be so grumpy, he should have validated my feelings (which is NOT the same as agreeing with me) without being defensive. He should have truly listened to what I was saying  (aka active listening) and then reflect my feelings back to me by commenting to the effect that he sees  that I am really grumpy and asking if there is anything he can do to  help me improve my mood but not offering unsolicited advice. ( ). In short, he should have been listening not to the words, but, to the emotions being conveyed and acknowledging the emotions!  (Noll at 4.)

I raise this topic because it is crucial in resolving any dispute or lawsuit. Each party speaks emotionally although each will claim that he/she is speaking rationally. By responding to the emotion rather than the words, we will acknowledge (and therefore validate) the party’s feelings. (Remember that acknowledgment is not the same as agreeing!) By validating the party’s feelings, we will allow the party to move forward towards resolving the dispute.  Parties need to be heard before they can move on. And, by denying the party’s emotions aka invalidating them, we are forcing a party, in effect, to stay stuck in that place rather than move forward to resolution.

As my husband was not wise enough to do this, I remained grumpy the rest of the day!

…. Just something to think about.

As always, I am available to conduct mediations by telephone and video conference.!

Stay safe!




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