As we work together to read each other‘s words and body language to figure out each other‘s needs, it can be useful to think about what Dr. John Medina calls the empathy reflex. In his book Brain Rules for Baby, he describes what he calls the empathy reflex. The empathy reflex is a habit that we can build to identify how the other person feels and make a guess about why they might feel that way. This can help us to bridge the gap between the behaviors that we can see in the other person and the intentions that we can’t see. According to Dr. Medina, this gap is one of the most common causes of conflict in relationships. We know our own intentions but we don’t always know the intentions of others.
So the next time you find yourself in an emotional situation, try these two steps: 1) use the other person’s body language to guess (out loud) how you think they are feeling, and 2) make a statement about why they might be feeling that way.
Try it and let me know how it goes!