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Author Topic: The Power of Asking Validating Questions  (Read 3803 times)
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« on: March 06, 2015, 08:46:10 AM »


*Excerpted from"I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better"

By Gary and Joy Lundberg

Asking the right question is vitally important in helping someone discover the solutions to their problems.  Without these questions they will fall back on "What am I supposed to do?"  Remember, you don't have to solve their problem.  In fact, you don't even how the power to solve it.  You can help them, however, by asking the kind of validating questions that will lead them to the exploration of their own feelings and desires, and to their own solutions.

Keep in mind that your intention is to show that you genuinely care about them;  therefore, your validating questions will be asked in a kind, gentle, and respectful manner.

Here are a few effective questions to get you started.

How did you feel about that?
What did you do?
And then what did you do?
What would you like to do?
When do you think it could be done?
What do you think the outcome will be?
What do you think might work?
What do you think would work next time?
Are there other options?
What happened?
How did it happen?
Where did it happen?
When did it happen?
What did you think when it happened?
How could you stand that?
How did you stand that?
And then what did you say?
What do you think caused the problem?
What's wrong?
What went wrong?
What was that like?
Did you enjoy that?
Did that hurt your feelings?
What does that mean?
What would you like me to do?
Is there anything I can do to help you?
Would it help if I (name something you can do)?

As mentioned in Chapter 4 "Develop the Art of Listening" in the Lundberg's book, there are some questions that immediately bring a defensive answer.  Many of them start with the word "Why." For example:  "Why did you do that?" "Why were you late?"  

You'll accomplish far more if you use one of the more caring questions such as, "What happened?" The "why" questions just don't have any good answers.  They are mostly used in anger or disgust.  Questions that back people into a corner don't help.  If you get out of the habit of using them and into the habit of using gentle, more validating questions, your children, spouse, and everyone you care about will be more likely to open up to you.  Then good solutions can be discovered and applied.

The key to validating phrases and questions is that they do not contain any answers.  They parallel the feelings and expressions of the person you are listening to and do not insert your interpretation of the situation or conversation.  If you supply an answer within the phrase or question, you cease to validate because all you want is to have the other person confirm what you are thinking.  An example of supplying an answer within a question is, "Don't you think you ought to call your boss and tell him why you were late?"

Validating questions are designed to learn more about the person or the situation.  When you ask, "What do you think can be done?" you leave the responsibility where it belongs, and encourage the person to come up with a personal solution that will work for him or her.

Begin Today

Think of some situations that occurred during the past week where you were in conversation with someone in your family, with a friend, or a fellow worker.  Think back and try to recall the kind of questions you used.  Did they begin with "Why?"  If so, rethink those questions and word them in a nonthreatening, more understanding way by beginning them with how, what, when, where, do, and is.  Refer to the suggestions above to help you rephrase your questions.

Use this knowledge and newly acquired skill in conversation with someone today.  Watch her eyes and see if they shift and defocus, then return to you as she answers.  If they do, then you will know you have asked the right kind of question.

The art of questioning is worth all the effort and practice it may take. It is the way people will know that you care about them and that you trust their judgment.

Read more:


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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2015, 05:34:11 PM »

I am currently reading this book and it is fantastic and very helpful. I think these skills will be a huge part in learning how to have healthy r/s in my future. Since learning how to validate my s10, it has made a big difference in how he trusts me to open up about his feelings. And it is also a relief to realise that I don't have to fix all his problems and take away all his sadness. That isn't my role. I just needed to learn to listen so he has a place to vent and process his feelings. Thanks Livednlearned for sharing this!
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2017, 02:24:21 PM »

Such a great book. I found it so helpful. Especially to let go of attempting to solve others’ problems.

When the pain of love increases your joy, roses and lilies fill the garden of your soul.
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2019, 05:37:23 PM »

Oh - this is great.  I thought I had read a lot of the resources here already, but I had missed this (from the first post above, thank you livedandlearned): https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=128027.0

I really like the respectful and calm way of validating + adding the 'reasonable ordeal' for repeated boundary violations.  I remember trying hard to get to that point, of not yelling but asking for some rational consequence and insisting on it, that definitely worked best for me.  But getting myself not to sound off was the hardest part!


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Relationship status: divorced 20 yrs
Posts: 15

« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2019, 06:36:53 PM »

Hello All.
I will try to get this book... Im thirsty to be ready for when my D speaks to me again... we used to call these questions open ended... I believe.
Thanks so much... Im learning so much already...
Bless u all
I will try to get this book... .

*Excerpted from"I Don't Have to Make Everything All Better"

By Gary and Joy Lundberg

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