When we’re in conflict with someone, we tend to see them as either more powerful than us (so we feel helpless) or less than us (because they’re bad, because they hurt us). We don’t see them as “the same as”. And that makes it almost impossible to find solutions that work for all … or indeed, solutions that work at all!
By making needs and feelings guesses for the other person in the situation, we humanize them. We put ourselves in their shoes, and notice that they have needs, just like us.
In my experience, I’m sometimes resistant to move to this step, especially if I’m angry at the other person – “Why should I care?!” The thing is, I almost always feel a whole heap better once I’ve done this process – it helps make that person “right size” again in my mind.
Give it a go – you might be pleasantly surprised.
It doesn’t even matter if we guess right or not. If we later choose to express our guesses to the other person, they can immediately see that we’ve spent some time considering them, and that often breaks down walls and puts us into connection. It puts us on the same side of the issue, not fighting against each other.