Coaching Validation: What We Look For

Help the Couple Validate Well

A common situation is that my wife and I are meeting with a couple. We will have them practice validating each other uses the rules for both the speaker and the listener. Coaching validation skills helps them to have better connection and reduce poor behaviors.

There are common skills and results that we look for and we want to reinforce.


I bring this up because for many people, this is going to feel very awkward. That’s OK. If you aren’t used to doing this, it will feel awkward.

I want to validate the awkwardness the couples may be feeling.

I’ll explain that I use this technique in both business and in my personal life. It’s very effective.

Unspoken Feelings

When one of the people mentions a feeling that wasn’t verbally expressed, we will call that out. We compliment them on a job well done.

We’ll say, “I noticed that your spouse didn’t say they were afraid of what may happen, but you asked them if they were afraid. Great job! You asked them about a feeling that they didn’t verbally express.”

Being Tentative

We ask the listener to be tentative in their responses. “It sounds like…” “I think I heard…” “Did I get that right…”

When we hear that from the listener, we often will compliment them on it.

Delaying Action Steps

It’s very common for some people to want to jump to action steps to fix the problem. We want for the couple to explore each other’s thoughts and feelings first, before they get to the action steps.

If they do jump to an action step before exploring thoughts and feelings, we will correct that.

Deeper Connection

Being validated can help couples to feel understood and to build a deeper connection. After they have validated each other, we will often ask, “How did it feel to be validated?”

Many people will reply that it felt very good. We ask them about this to reiterate that this is something that builds connection. We might ask, “Did that help you to feel more connected?”

We’ve had couples that have learned this skill and it’s helped them to reduce their poor communication behaviors and to start to deal with their issues. Their criticism, defensiveness, contempt and stonewalling all start to decline and they start to understand each other.

Tips for Marriage Mentors:

  • Start With an Easy Topic – Some couples will start with a complicated topic. We want them to focus on the skill, so we often ask them to start with something that won’t emotionally trigger them. It might be something they appreciate about their partner.
  • Understanding Isn’t Agreement – We reiterate this a number of times. The first step is to make sure they understand each other.
  • Point Out What They Do Well – We all like to be complimented. Recognize when do they do the technique.

Other posts you may find valuable:

Validation: How to Coach the Speaker

Validation: How to Coach the Listener