Empathy Circle practice is a lovely way we can grow together, toward the world we want to live in. It offers an enjoyable and meaningful format for connecting deeply with others, while re-wiring our own nervous systems as we developing key communication skills and patterns.
This work was pioneered by Edwin Rutsch of CultureofEmpathy.com, and is an expansion of the work of Carl Rogers. I am a big fan of this work, as it is both simple and powerful.
When introducing people to Empathy Circles, whether in person or online, here are the key principles I use to frame this work:
• Our culture's patterns of competition and scarcity, tend to become ingrained in our habitual patterns of how we communicate with one another. Developing the habit of "listening to understand" is something that takes practice.
• Having a chance to speak, is very different from actually feeling heard. Feeling truly "gotten" by another person, is an amazing gift we can learn to offer one another.
• High-quality, caring attention from other humans is something we all need -- as basic as water, air, and nourishment. And, when we learn to take turns offering it to one another, it does not need to be a scarce resource!
• Engaging in a small group experience where each person has the chance to feel deeply heard, can offer a richly meaningful and deeply relaxing experience of connection.
• In addition, the basic skills and habits we develop in this process, are essential to the work of transforming conflict -- and thus, to the process of creating a regenerative culture.
Here's a link to a page with free resources on how you can host your own empathy circles, from a one-page guide to an entire book.