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Friday, August 12, 2011

Empathy: The Fast Food Rule

**This post is part of a series I've been doing on empathy.  For other posts on how to show empathy and teach your children empathy, click here.**


I read The Happiest Toddler on the Block about a year and a half ago.  One of the strategies that Dr. Karp suggests is the "Fast Food Rule."  It's very similar to the "empathy reflex" that I wrote about here.  The Fast Food Rule works like this: if someone is upset, let them speak first, repeat back their feelings, and they say your piece. It's similar to the employee at the fast food drive through. You order, they repeat your order, THEN they tell you the total price.
Empathy: The Fast Food Rule


So this FFR is meant for toddlers, but I have found that it works well on my husband (shhh...don't tell him!) and also my students.

Here is a typical conversation with one of my students.

Student (in a whiny voice): Ugh. This is hard. I don't want to do it.
Mrs. O (in a stern voice): Well, you have to, so get to work.

But here's how the conversation went when I used the FFR.

Student (in a whiny voice): Ugh. This is hard. I don't want to do it.
Mrs. O (in an understanding voice): I know it seems hard right now. But I will help you through it and by the end of the assignment, it won't be so hard.
Student (staring at me like I'm an alien before hesitantly answering): Okay.

How easy was that!?!?! And then, the student sat and worked quietly for 40 minutes. FORTY minutes! That's literally 10 times as long as he normally works quietly!!! I did help with a few problems, but I never had to redirect his attention or deal with any other complaints!





Have you tried the Fast Food Rule or Empathy Reflex?  How did it work for you?  Any tips or suggestions?

9 comments:

  1. Wow! I love this! I think we could all feel a little more understood if we used this method. By the way I LOVE, LOVE your guest post on Lu's blog, I am linking to it in my confessional today!

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  2. I use this method with my clients every. single. day. "So, my understanding of your feelings/position/question is. . . "It makes people really feel like you are listening and care. And works as well with my three year old as it does with my divorce client

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  3. What a great way to communicate instead of talking over each other. It helps the other person know that you are listening!

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  4. What a great piece of advice. There's no doubt that the way we answer back can make a *huge* difference to what follows. Note to self: TAKE NOTE!

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  5. I do this move all the time! Mostly with my husband! It has really helped me a lot because I tend to be emotional and react to things. This makes me calm down, repeat back and think through first!

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  6. What a smart and clever way of communicating! I never thought that fast food would contribute to much worthwhile in society, although I do love me my fair share of french fries :)

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  7. Great post!
    And yes i works really well on employees too!!!

    Have a great weekend!
    Leontien

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  8. I use it in my classroom all the time!! I have never heard of it as the fast food rule - but it makes sense!

    What grade do you teach?

    Sarah from The House That Ag Built

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  9. Awesome! I guess people really like being heard!

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