Make empathy a reflex
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Make empathy a reflex

Imagine Julia and her husband Arthur. Julia noticed that her partner has recently been doing overtime more often and is no longer as warm as he used to be, so when Arthur takes a bath, she decides to check his phone to see if he has been texting somebody.

To her despair, she discovers that her husband actually had a longer exchange of text messages with his female colleague at work. It was hard to consider it flirtatious, but the sheer number of text messages made Julia very worried.  

When an opportunity to talk arises, she speaks with regret and grudges directly to her partner about what she saw and tells him to explain himself. Arthur, on the other hand, is very annoyed by the fact that he was immediately attacked and that his wife also violated his privacy - and he does not intend to explain himself. A quarrel starts.

Have you been wondering how it is possible that two people who care about mutual happiness can suddenly turn against each other and make each other feel unpleasant?

When Julia tells her friends about the whole incident, they all comfort her and complain loudly about how he could have behaved like that. Similarly, when Arthur tells his buddy about it, he also starts to understand him and is surprised by Julia's behaviour. Who is right? Is there any winning side to this conflict?

The world of science fully agrees on where the misunderstandings come from, not only in relationships, but in general, between people. Their main source is that it is difficult for us to unambiguously read what is happening in the head of another person. What does he feel? What are the motives of his actions.

Friends of both Julia and Arthur perfectly understand them, because they had the opportunity to hear calmly what they feel and why they behaved like that.  That is why the basic habit in any relationship should be to communicate one's emotions skillfully - but this is a completely different subject. However, how should we behave in a situation when we are attacked by someone?

So-called "reflex of empathy" come to your aid. This is a powerful habit, which can limit your quarrels in a relationship to zero. It consists of 3 simple steps:
Pause. Stop the automatic reaction.

Describe how you think your partner feels.
Try to guess where these feelings come from.
What could Arthur say if he practiced this habit?
"My Love, I can see that you are very angry with me. I guess you've been very feeling very upset about those text messages  and you might have felt threatened. Remember that I love you very much and I want you to be calm. Let's sit down and talk about it.

Will it work? There is no guarantee that it will work every time, but it certainly increases your chances of reaching an agreement. First of all, because you will understand your partner better than automatically judging him/her - and then it will be easier for you to take the right attitude later on. Secondly, because your partner will feel more understood by you, this should alleviate their initial hostility.

The most difficult thing about this method is that you have to learn this habit. Unfortunately, most people have developed the opposite habit - repaying with an attack for an attack, so it may not be easy. However, putting an effort to improve communication may in the long run decide whether or not your relationship will survive - so in my opinion it is definitely worth it.

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