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Microvalidations: An Antidote For Difficult Days

Are you supporting your team and self with positive interactions? Here's how to use microvalidations to increase resilience, team cohesion, and improve your work life satisfaction

Posted: 05/06/2023

Read Time/Watch Time

5 minutes

Who should read this?

Veterinarians, vet nurses, vet techs, employers.


Melanie Barham


Global content

Microvalidations: the antidote to Difficult Days

The Gottman Institute says in healthy relationship, you should have at least 5 positive interactions for every negative one.  This applies to co-workers as well, and direct reports. Building other people up gives us as much or more of a hit of dopamine as receiving one, and it also boosts serotonin (see this article here).  If you want to be more satisfied in your career, and have a team that feels the same, read on!

So I’ve known that Gottman stat for a while, but often thought: “cool; how do I do that consistently?” 

On Friday, I read this article from HBR  and it struck me like a lightning bolt.  Microvalidations are small, impactful appreciations of someone’s character, work, or contributions.  They are the antidote to micro aggressions and negative interactions.  

I loved the concept of micro validations, but what struck me was that I can remember EVERY SINGLE microvalidation that an employer has given me.  I didn’t know they were called that at the time, but the name is fitting.  One boss used to stop me before I left every day, and even on the crummiest day, he would say, “Melanie, thank you so much for your hard work today.” There would often be a specific example too. He shared with me that that had become his habit many years ago to never let an employee leave without hearing those words.  

Providing micro validations isn’t limited to bosses and “bigwigs.”  We are all part of teams, and we rely on one another for success and especially when we have difficult days.  

Microvalidations also increase our resilience and team cohesion, and interestingly, they have a great effect on us too.  

After reading the article, I stopped, and took 15 minutes to send each member of my team a slack message.  It was a great way to end a Friday.  

Here’s how you can try it too:

  1. Be specific
  2. Use their name
  3. Be sincere
  4. Write a note, call them up, send a text, or say it before they leave.

e.g., A text to a new RVT/RVN: “Claire, I really appreciate your attention to detail, and how you are kind with your reminders to me when I forget something.  I’m so glad to have you on our team.”

Here are some other ideas to use also:

  • Say thank you at the end of the day to your employees
  • Leave a note on their desk
  • Praise them in an external meeting in a specific manner “Sarah is incredible at pulling together the most difficult information and making it into a cohesive outcome; I’d love for her to take this on.”

How do you micro validate people in your life?  What results have you seen from this technique or others on your satisfaction and the people around you?

If you’re looking for more inspiration and support like this in your career, check out our coaching.  VSGD has a wide array of qualified coaches to help support teams, individuals, and career transitions as they seek to create satisfying workplaces and careers.  Having expert support with frameworks, research, and tested techniques can amplify and accelerate your success and goals.

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