Empathy In Communication, Really?
For all the women reading this, hands up to all those that don’t get enough empathy, in a relationship, from their men?
I know my wife will be raising her hand on this one :)
And you know why?
Because I’m built to help and the by-product of that is always looking for a solution. Hey, what can I say, that’s who I am.
And it was a great reminder for me when she told me ‘If I wanted a solution, I’d ask for one’.
OK, my mind was recalling the same thing I’ve heard a number of times before.
Women are highly conversant when it comes to comforting.
This comes into play when speaking to other women and I just plain slipped my memory.
So the solution since I’m a guy
Needed to drop that one in :)
However, the solution, from a man’s point of view, is to be more aware of empathy signals.
Something to remember is there’s a difference between empathy and sympathy.
Empathy is feeling what somebody else feels through them whilst sympathy is feeling what somebody else feels through you..
Want an example for you better understand?
Jane: I just got fired …
Bill: Wow, babe … you’ll be fine. I got fired before and there’s always work somewhere for talented people like us.
Jane: I just got fired …
Bill: Wow, babe … you must be feeling pretty scared right now.
Do you get the picture, guys?
If your wife is always angry at you, maybe it’s because you’re simply not listening to what it is she wants to hear.
Empathy is all about keeping the focus on the other person AND allowing Jane to continue to vent on whatever is bugging her. Bill needs to be there, listen, shut his mouth with any sort of solution until Jane has finished venting.
And once this has finished, Bill will also have a much clearer and fuller understanding of the situation too.
It’s Tough to be Empathic
As a man and, historically, I’ve worked in technical and management situations, my brain is wired for the delivery of solutions.
When I’m presented with a person’s roadblock, my brain instinctively jumps into solution mode.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the best course of action to take when dealing with a woman when she needs to vent.
Is all this a Weakness?
You know, when my wife Vicki first raised ‘Empathy’, my immediate thought was why would I be bothered to be empathic when I have a solution right on the tip of my tongue.
This was a waste of time.
Lo and behold, it isn’t a weakness.
It’s a process for her to feel safe and secure so comfort can roll into a solution – and a solution when she feels it’s the right time to move forward.
And add to this, I confused empathy with sympathy too.
When you guys are in a conversation with your lady and she’s venting with you, listen, be empathic, and feel through the venting THROUGH them, not you.
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3 thoughts on “Try Empathy In Communication”
Totally on point. I can relate to this well. My husband generally gives me empathy because he knows I need it in order to feel close to him and work through the situation. But sometimes, he does something far worse than sympathy or trying to fix my situation…he just says nothing.
He was raised by a dad who would run to the garage when his wife was not feeling good. And my husband tends to clam up when I get too upset, mostly because he doesn’t know what to say. I’ve tried explaining that all I need him to do is have compassion and empathize with me, but sometimes he just can’t.
I realize that men react to emotional situations differently than women, but it takes so little to make a woman feel loved and understood. But then again I shouldn’t talk, because I quite often end up doing the woman thing (smothering him) when he needs to take time to figure stuff out in his head. But I’m getting better!
I think what you’ve just explained as a real life situation is one that many (did I say many?) couples go through, Bellaisa.
Sounds like Pam and I a lot of times. We’re all getting better together and the important thing to remember is we recognise the need to grow and improve and take action in doing so.
Lest it be the same old crap that gets nowhere and ends up nowhere. I know I want our relationship to be eternal and that’s where we’re headed – dammit!! :)
*Foot is permanently put down* – and yes, I completely agree.