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How to Use the Empathic Process

The empathic process includes both intimacy and respect.

The empathic process is a noteworthy style of communication. I developed an 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 both healthy and successful for everyone.

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:

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, such as touching their partner's hand or arm to maintain an intimate atmosphere. In addition, 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, as a block of time for reviewing the week’s problems and mutually solving them. The empathic process creates a safe place to which partners can return at any time.

Know your mate

Never use confidential information as a weapon while fighting. If you invite your mate to honestly tell you what he or she thinks of you, only to turn around and accuse your partner of meanness for saying hurtful words, trust will be broken and intimacy will be 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 you respect and validate differences and not try to create someone new out of the person you love. For your relationship to be balanced, it must benefit both parties. Therefore, mutuality is the key to a happy relationship.

Wants versus needs

What is the difference between wants and needs? You often say you want something but need something else. Your needs are based on those early childhood relationships with your mother and father, and the manner in which you interacted with your parents. Your wants are the ideal that you aspire to in a relationship. For example, you may want a peaceful relationship and yet find yourself hypercritical or demanding, creating arguments at every turn. Your childhood patterns may influence the argumentative and hypercritical style—it's what you know how to do from your interactions with your family of origin.

However, an argumentative style may not be what you aspire to in a relationship—hence a dissonance between your wants and needs. By recognizing the difference between wants and needs, you can work towards healthy and balanced communication. Bbringing your wants and needs to consciousness allows you to deliberately and consciously act in the best interest of your relationship.