The Power of Empathy
Most of the time, when a couple or friends get into a fight, it’s because one of them is assuming they know why the other person is acting the way they do or reads into something they are saying. The thing is our assumptions are primarily based on how we think or what we would do or say which is not going to be an accurate reflection of the other person. If you try to put yourself into the other person’s shoes first, you might come to a completely different conclusion and misunderstandings can be avoided.
There is a great book, written a couple decades ago but still so very relevant, called “Love is Never Enough” by Aaron T. Beck. The one thing you really take away from this book is the power of empathizing. Beck’s book is full of great advice. Here are just a few points of his to keep in mind:
Ask questions rather than just assume and act on what you “think” the other person is thinking. There is no better way to come to an understanding of someone’s position than to let them tell you what they are thinking.
Try to figure out where the other person’s thoughts are coming from rather than focus on the words alone. What a person says and what the message really is can be quite different.
Don’t’ react defensively. This can just make things worse. Stop and try to figure out what they are feeling and respond to that, not the words themselves.
Remember, just making a sincere effort to understand the other person can do wonders for the relationship. The effort you make shows you care and is also commonly followed up by the other person trying harder to understand your point of view as well.