Feeling heard, acknowledged, and validated is essential for everyone because it is rooted in the basic human need for connection and understanding. It is not only important for our mental health in general, but also for our mental readiness and productivity in the workplace.
Validate Me! A Fundamental Human Need
As human beings, we all have a fundamental need to feel heard, acknowledged, and understood. It’s a longing that may not always be at the forefront of our minds, but it’s there nonetheless and it will stay with us throughout our lives.
We want others to acknowledge when we’re feeling down and rejoice when we feel happy. We want our colleagues to understand our struggles and our partners to notice our anxieties, without judging or patronizing us.
We want our friends to validate our sadness, even when they can’t see an apparent reason.
We want healthcare staff to acknowledge us as capable persons, especially when we’re ill.
It’s not about expecting others to agree with us all the time, but simply to validate and acknowledge our emotions. We want them to hear us out, to listen to us, and try understand that we are feeling a certain way.
When we’re feeling upset, we want someone to say “I can see that you’re really frustrated right now. Tell me more about it, get it all out there.” When we’re feeling sad, we want someone to say “I understand that you’re going through a tough time. I’m right here with you, not going anywhere.” And when we feel overwhelmed, we want someone to say “You don’t have to do it all at once, it’s too much, and it’s frustrating. I feel you!”
Small Gestures, Big Impact
An acknowledgment doesn’t even have to carry words. A simple nod, a tiny gesture, or a look that signals “I’m here, I hear you” from our counterpart allows us to feel comfortable expressing our emotions and in turn, feel more in control of our emotions. And feeling more in control of our emotions is beneficial to our mental readiness because we can build a sense of agency over time.
Acknowledgements may seem obvious and simple, but they’re powerful and essential for our well-being.
They reward both, the person on the giving and on the receiving end. And there are plenty of opportunities to give and receive acknowledgment in daily life if we make room for them.
Here are a few examples that can make a huge difference in our day
- A friend nods their head in understanding while we share our frustration about a difficult work project.
- A partner gives us a reassuring pat on the back when we’re feeling down.
- A colleague makes eye contact and smiles sympathetically as we share our disappointment about a missed opportunity.
- A loved one gives us a hug after we’ve had a tough day.
- A boss acknowledges our hard work with a simple “Thank you.”
- A teacher makes a point to check in with us after class when you seem upset.
- A friend sends us a text message with a supportive message after hearing about your breakup.
- A stranger gives us a kind smile when we’re having a bad day.
- A co-worker acknowledges our contribution to a team project by mentioning it during a meeting.
- A partner acknowledges our point of view by saying “I can see how you feel that way” during a disagreement.
Why Feeling Heard Matters At Work
Feeling heard at work is especially important for our mental health and mental readiness because it can help to reduce feelings of isolation and increase a sense of belonging. As a result, we have the opportunity to improve communication and collaboration in the workplace, leading to better problem-solving and decision-making.
Research has shown that people who feel heard, acknowledged, and validated at work have better mental health and are more productive. A study by the University of Warwick found that happy employees are 12% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. Additionally, a study by the American Psychological Association found that employees who feel valued by their employers are more likely to report higher job satisfaction, motivation, and engagement.
In times where job stress is the leading cause of stress for U.S. adults and the economic burden of the consequences beyond 300 billion dollars annually, validation can have a huge return on investment.
By creating a workplace culture where everyone feels heard, acknowledged, and validated, employers can not only reduce employee stress and burnout risk, they can help improve mental health and productivity in the company.
No One Around? Validate Yourself!
One of the best ways to start feeling heard, acknowledged, and validated is by checking in with ourselves. “Take a few moments each day to reflect on your thoughts and emotions. Ask yourself what you need in that moment and give yourself permission to feel what you feel”, says Clinical Psychologist and Burnout Specialist Dr. Erica Simon “Treat yourself as you would like to be treated by others. Give yourself the same kindness, understanding, and compassion that you would give to a friend.”
The short term benefit of checking in with ourselves is not only freeing our minds from worries and emotions. It also signals our entire body that we take whatever is “on our chests” serious. If we do that regularly, we can increase our sense of agency, boost our mental readiness and make room for new ideas. This ultimately leads to better productivity and more satisfaction in life.
To make self-listening and self-check-ins a habit, we can turn to mood and habit trackers. The free Earkick self care companion has a fantastic feature to support every single member: “When you text, speak or video-record your self-check-in, you actually get acknowledged. The Earkick mascot, a cute little panda, hears you out and gives you a personal, validating reply. It’s simple and highly effective for a good start to your day” says Dr. Herbert Bay, the Co-founder, and CEO of Earkick.
Ready to start your well-being journey? Ready to improve your mental readiness? Download Earkick today.