In the beginning, as you are learning to mirror, if you find yourself sometimes repeating word for word exactly what your partner said, make sure you fully understand the message and are not simply playing parrot.
To paraphrase is to state in your own words what the message your spouse sent means to you – how you understand the words and feelings (and non verbal cues).
This indicates to your spouse that you have heard and understand what s/he has said. When you are mirroring your partner, the sending and paraphrasing of the message are repeated until your partner affirms that you have clearly understood the message that was sent.
Any response made before actually arriving at an accurate understanding of the meaning of your partner’s message is actually not a response to your partner at all; it is a response to your own interpretation of your partner’s message. Until a message is clearly received, you are responding to yourself not to your partner.
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Ask for more
Validation indicates that you can see the information from the other person’s point of view and accept that it has validity, ie. that it is true for them.
In any communication between two persons, there are always two points of view, and every report of any experience is an interpretation that is the truth for each person.
Validation conveys to your partner that his/ her subjective experience is not crazy, that it has its own logic, and that it is a valid way of looking at things.
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If it doesn’t make sense to you (yet)
Empathy is the process of reflecting or imagining the feelings ascending partner is experiencing about the event or the situation being reported.
This deep level of communication attempts to recognize, reach into, and on some level experience the emotions of the sending partner. Empathy allows both partners to transcend, for a moment, their separateness and to experience a genuine meeting.