One of the greatest skills for connecting and reconnecting with people is empathy, particularly if you’re trying to win an ex back.Empathy is the ability to communicate that you understand how someone else feels. And although this might not seem like an important skill to have, don’t underestimate it! Using empathy is one of the fastest ways to build (or rebuild) trust. It’s also a way to get people to like you. If, however, you are using empathy for the sole purpose of manipulating someone, chances are it will not work like you want it to. For example, picture a used car salesman trying to ‘learn about and connect with you” while you’re on the lot looking at used cars. It’s pretty obvious that the used car salesman has an ulterior motive for trying to build rapport with him and get you to trust him.
So how can you start to master the art of empathy? The first step is you have to care about the person you are talking to. The concerns of that person have to be your concerns as well. And not only do you have to know what these concerns are, but you have to be able to voice them in a way that shows your concern, without sounding like a ‘know it all’.
When you can describe the concerns or what’s bothering someone as good as that person, then you’re on your way to building trust and establishing rapport. Part of this includes identifying the feelings that go along with the concerns- this is the part that people connect with.
So let’s take your ex, for example. Have you really identified the concerns of your ex and are you able to express them as well as he or she can?
Maybe the break up happened because one partner thought that the other was moving too fast. Let’s say that John broke up with Sally because he thought that she was moving too fast in the relationship. What can Sally say to John to possibly get back on track and maybe even start seeing him again?
If Sally knows that the reason that John broke up with her was due to him thinking that she was moving too fast, then she has to express this information to John in a way that encapsulates John’s feelings and fears- she has to see things from his point of view. What might a conversation like this sound like?
How about this:
Sally: “Hey John, thanks for meeting with me.”
John: “No problem, Sally. what’s up?”
Sally: “Well, I’ve thought a lot about what you said to me, you know, about rushing things, and I think that you were right. In looking back, I think I was trying to rush things in the relationship that maybe weren’t there yet, and in the process, I must have made you feel really uncomfortable. And I just wanted to say that I’m sorry for making you feel that way.”
John: “Well, it did seem like you were taking things a little fast.
Sally: “You’re right. And now that I think about it, I may have made you feel a little overwhelmed, especially when I was talking about moving in or getting a place of our own. After thinking about it, I don’t think that we’re anywhere near that yet.”
John: “I agree with you, I don’t think that we were quite ready to get our own place or anything.
Because Sally is able to summarize not only the content of why she thinks John broke up with her, but also the feelings that went along with the content, she is able to start building the relationship again. The fact that John agrees with her is confirmation that she was on the right track with her comments to John.
Now, this is not obviously not going to be enough to send John running back into her arms, but it is the first step in rebuilding the relationship if that’s what Sally chooses to do. And by continuing to use empathy and see things from John’s point of view, she will continue to build the relationship with John.