to give an insightful response. If you give an interpretation too
soon it may seen too personal or critical and turn the talker off.
Interpretations are always guesses, so be tentative: "Could it
be..." or "I'm wondering if...."
Example: when a friend says, "I thought marriage would
solve all my problems. I was so happy for a while but now
everything is going wrong," you might respond, "Right now
your marriage is causing you a lot of pain but marriage is so
important to you that I'm wondering if it isn't really scary to
think it might end?" The friend might tearfully respond, "You're
so right. I remember what a terrible time it was for me when
my parents divorced." (So, you made a 3.5 or a 3.8 response.)
But he/she might say, "Oh, what a terrible thought. I don't
want to think about that, so don't say something like that
again." (Well, I really was off the track there, maybe a 1.5 or a
Level 5.0: Fantastic insight.
After knowing a person well for a long time, one may be
able to provide some brilliant insight occasionally. Great insight
is a rare event, however. Even highly skilled therapists spout
profound, creative insights only infrequently. A 4.5+ response
requires both an open-minded talker and a creative empathizer.
Example: if your roommate has had a series of love
relationships which end about the time they are getting
intimate and serious, you may have observed that all of the
boyfriends have a striking similarity to her father who divorced
her mother when she was 5. You might suggest that her
association of her boyfriends with her father and rejection may
make intimacy especially scary to her. If she agrees and
decides to select a different kind of boyfriend or to recognize
that this is an irrational association which she can deal with,
you may have given a 5.0 empathy response. If she tells you to
forget that "stupid psychology crap," you have a 1.5 response
and some work to do to rebuild the relationship.
STEP THREE: Practice giving empathic responses.
Use role-playing (method #1) with two friends. Take turns being
(1) the listener giving empathic responses, (2) the talker pretending to
have a variety of problems and (3) the rater giving feedback to the
empathizer using the 5-point empathy scale. The rater must rate every
response given by the empathizer. Stop the interaction after 4 or 5
empathic responses have been rated. All three can discuss the good
responses and how certain comments could have been more effective.
With experience you will learn to develop better and better guesses
about the talker's feelings. These hunches come from three major