| Connect Two |

The Analyst: Part III

"Your mantra should be ‘what’s under the iceberg?’ That will keep you tuned in”



Mother: I told Jack he’d be responsible to keep his own room clean. He didn’t straighten it up after Shabbos and when he came home at the end of the next week, his laundry was still on the floor. It was a shock for him…and for me.
Father: These skills will also make Jack a better business analyst.
Jack: This empathy thing is hard work. Every time someone tells me something, I’m busy thinking, is that a clue to how they’re feeling?


Jack rushes into his next session and throws himself down into the chair. There are two red patches high on each cheek.

“It didn’t work,” he says accusingly.


“I went out with this girl a couple times. I remembered you said I need to really get to know her. I brought along this getting-to-know-you type game, and now she dumps me because of it!”

“Wow. That’s awful.” After a moment I say, “I wonder what might have triggered that.”

“I was just asking her questions about her work experiences. Like if she gets along with her boss and if she left her previous job or got fired. I don’t know why she got so upset. Why couldn’t she just answer? She just clammed up and got all quiet until we went home!”

“She ‘clammed up and got quiet.’ Could that be your answer?”

Jack paused. “But I was trying to get to know her!”

I nodded. “But you need to pay attention to her feelings. If she’s showing discomfort, empathy dictates you make her feel comfortable again. Analyze why this conversation isn’t working. Is she uncomfortable with the topic, or did she just get distracted? If she’s disinterested in the topic, try to see that from her body language, which can be broadly categorized as interested/disinterested” [Jack has to make it a habit to constantly be aware if the other person is interested in the conversation. If they lose interest, he has to determine why, so he can respond appropriately].

We role play a conversation, with Jack trying to identify when I lose interest.

“Then what?” I challenge him.

“Change topics?” he guesses.

Jack needs to learn to go further than just the superficial level. I use the iceberg example to demonstrate. “Only 10% of an iceberg sticks out of the water. Most of it is invisible, underwater. When you meet someone, you’re only seeing 10% of them. You need to venture deeper in order to really get to know them and respect their feelings.”

I explain to Jack that the 10% “above the waterline” is what people say, do, and look like. When you dive a little deeper, you discover their emotions, personality, and life experiences. Look deeper and get to know someone really well, and you’ll understand them in context of their cumulative life experience. The deepest level is understanding how they experience their daily reality.

“So let’s say a girl tells you, ‘I had a really stressful day.’ That’s the simplest level, the part of the iceberg that’s visible above the water. Your objective is to use that cue to go deeper.”

“Ask if she wants to talk about it?” [This is a good response because it allows you to discover the needs of the other person so you can respond to them according to what they want].

“Great. Now, you know she’s stressed out and maybe you even know why. The next step is to respond with empathy.”

“Umm… take her somewhere relaxing? A quiet coffee shop, not arcades.”

“Great! What else?”

“Maybe keep the conversation light, she might not be up to touchy topics?”

“Great. Your mantra should be ‘what’s under the iceberg?’ That will keep you tuned in.”

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 679)

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