Engaging with Empathy during Conflict

Ever experience that someone “really gets me” or “understands where I am coming from” feeling? That feeling may be a sign that you received empathy.

Receiving empathy tends to put people in better place to offer it. People who reach out for mediation often do not have much empathy to offer to the other participants. The empathy tanks tend to be running on low. In a family mediation, where the empathy tank is low, participants often need extra understanding.

In a family mediation, one or both people may show up feeling angry or hurt. The former couple may not be in a place to show empathy for each other, and usually need empathy. I understand that each person has a reason for feeling whatever they are feeling. Having no history with the situation allows me to more easily engage from a place of understanding.

I understand that the changing nature of a relationship (from couple to former couple) comes with challenges. The expectations about the relationships’ future will not be met. The unmet needs for connection, security, support, and understanding lead to great disappointment in a divorce mediation or custody mediation.

If involved in a family or other conflict situation, you may not have someone nearby to listen and understand. These times call for self-empathy. Just checking in with one’s self and fully listening to your own response to “I wonder if I am feeling…..”  and “I wonder what I need……” tends to bring in greater awareness and understanding.  

Empathy, including self-empathy, helps people behave more gently with themselves and others.  

A civil and family mediator, peace builder, and educator, Sherry Ann Bruckner lives in Alexandria, Minnesota. Visit brucknermediation.com/services to learn more or call Sherry at (320) 808-3212 for help to transform conflict and create peace.

As always, be gentle with you. Be gentle with all. Be the peace.