The Empathic Process
The empathic process is a noteworthy style of communication. I developed the empathic process as a viable way for two people in a relationship, as well as families, to build a new pattern of dialogue that is healthy and successful for both.
The empathic process
Find a neutral location, preferably the kitchen, which is the heart of the house and a place where alchemy happens, rather than someone’s office, bedroom, or place of power.
The rules of engagement in the empathic process include the following:
How to successfully communicate
The rules of engagement in the empathic process include both intimacy and respect. Each person speaks a third of the time while making physical contact during communication to maintain an intimate atmosphere. Both partners maintain eye contact during communication. At no time does either partner defend against accusations sent their way.
The last third of the time is used for mutual conversation with both partners invested in the successful outcome of their dialogue. This approach can be used weekly, at a set time in a set place, and as a time for reviewing the week’s problems and mutually solving them. As a result of the empathic process, a safe place is created, in which both partners can return at any time.
Know your mate
Never use confidential information as a weapon while fighting. If you ask your mate to tell you honestly what he or she thinks of you, only to turn around and use it against him or her, trust will be broken and intimacy injured.
Also, pay attention to your partner’s feelings and refrain from saying hurtful or reactive things. You can win the battle but lose the war by damaging esteem and demeaning your partner.
Time in rather than time out
Know yourself and develop coping skills that allow you to meet your own needs rather than have your partner meet them. It is important to accept your partner, the person you love, as he or she is. No one wants to perform for approval. And in a healthy relationship, each partner is free to express his or her love in a way that is natural for him/her.
Agree to not always agree, but to walk together.
The human dilemma is that we are all different, and cannot agree about everything, even if we are in love. What is important is that we respect and validate our differences and not try to create someone new out of the person we love.
Wants versus Needs
What is the difference between wants and needs? We often say we want something but need something else. Our needs are based on those early relationships with mother and father, and the manner in which we interacted with our parents. Our wants are the ideal that we aspire to in relationships. For example, we may want a peaceful relationship and yet be hypercritical or demanding, creating arguments at every turn. Our childhood patterns may reflect this argumentative and hypercritical style. This is what we know “how to do” from our interactions with our family of origin. But, this is not the ideal of what we aspire to in relationships, and hence, the dissonance between our wants and our needs. As a result, by recognizing the differences between our wants and our needs, one is able to work towards a healthier and more balanced interaction. And, by bringing wants and needs to consciousness, this allows one to deliberately and consciously act in the best interest of their relationship.