The following is a collection of somewhat related thoughts I found on my Blackberry:

Empathy requires active involvement and constant flow of information. So as to help us stay in character. Trying to stay in someone else's shoes without this stream of input (the active and present engagement with someone) is hard!

Second-guessing is working from a position of minimal info. It is making assumptions about what someone is thinking and feeling. And the assumptions are often (necessarily so?) based on simplistic stereotypes.

Remember the age-old adage "assumptions is the mother of failures?" It applies here as well. It means less fulfilling relationships (business, social, and personal.)

We second guess because there is not enough information, and none is forthcoming. The person we are trying to engage with may be unwilling to open up, or the information may be erratic because they have a personality disorder.

Leaping into assumptions is also closely linked in with being judgemental. We make rapid "diagnoses" about someone, because we are so accustomed to trying to fix it.

Empathy is valuable when done right. but it goes against much of our default patterns. There is a lot to be said for hearing and accepting what others are telling us. They are voicing their truths - and that's probably ok in most situations.