Using Empathy

Most of us have, at one time or another had disagreements with friends, family, employers, employees, even complete strangers. Most of us usually feel triumphant or put down according to the outcome of the disagreement. We usually keep score as to who “won” and who “lost”.

Over the years I have observed that my clients have three types of disagreements. One stems from a build-up of resentment over many weeks, months, even years and a seemingly innocuous situation or statement causes this pile of resentment to blaze up. The other way that disagreements may turn into a psychological conflagration is someone saying or doing something that sets the other person off, like tossing a match into a puddle thinking that this will put out the match and instead the puddle explodes. In this case, the puddle was gasoline mistaken for water. The person who was set off by a silly or snarky comment exploded because he or she was having a very bad day and whatever was said caused the emotional explosion. The third situation where anger goes nuclear is usually between two or more people who have radically differing opinions, whether it be religious, political, or some other social difference.

The real secret to being agreeable in your disagreements is timing and empathy. We all have empathy. As children, even as infants if one child begins to cry, several others will begin to sob also, causing a chorus of upset children. Timing is also extremely important. Something that may just pass off me like water on wax paper one day will sink in and irritate me if I am tired and out of sorts the next day. Empathy is extremely important in close relationships like dating, living together, marriage or the parent/child relationship. The best way to practice empathy is to think, “How would I feel in that situation if someone said this to me?” It’s very simple. It can be used all the time, whether with your hormone-crazed teenager or with your boss, mom, dad or anyone else who you need in your life.

If you are having trouble getting along with someone, come for a reading with me. I will visualize what is wrong and advise you how to handle it. Hugs and blessings.