How might we Develop Empathy Circle model going forward?In preparation read: How To Host an Empathy Circle http://j.mp/1DjjYqU
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A few Discussion Notes:
A short summation of my first Empathy Circle experience
Somehow (I am thinking it was on FB) I got connected with Edwin Rutsch. And found out he was having an empathy circle (EC) meeting and I could join. So I signed up. There were guidelines (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1u_55_f2ZihY1lfbjlHYWIzanc/view) [ECG] and I was eager to try this form of connection via a google hangout.
I connected up 10 minutes early and Edwin and Kathy were already there. And we sort of started the circle. It was interesting watching the dynamics of the Speaker (S) and the Active Listener (AL). For me, it was easy to see the AL struggling to stay in the role and not step out and produce their own perspective, feelings or ideas. We set 6 minute intervals for a S/AL engagement and the S picked the AL. Christel joined us so there were 4 of us.
Edwin explained how things would work and how we were driving towards how to organize and ignite ECs, using the ECG. I do not recall who was the first S/AL pair. During the 2 hours I think we each took each role with each participant. The topics ranged widely, yet stayed close to the topic of empathy and the ECs. At one point Kathy revealed about her past and deep hurts and disappointments relating to the 70s and a beautiful experience that she lost and has been unable to fully regain. Edwin as an AL was a model for echoing back what the S shared. It was almost like he was … egoless. Christel shared some very deep stories about her childhood and some of the pain and dysfunction that she felt around the absence of something like EC, while at the same time sharing how she had experiences that were quite formative and included practices related to ECG. Edwin shared as S – always focused on EC and I must admit I fail to recall key items he shared. I, as S shared my passion for igniting a revolution among males of vulnerability and also shared some of my perspective on shame. Several times different members were moved close to tears. It was very powerful.
As Silent Listener (SL), I struggled. It was nice that google hangouts had a mute feature :). There were many points when I wanted to share something and as SL all I could do was be patient (I have often joked that I have tried being patient and it is a lot like WAITING) or say/ask something yet the process seemed to deny that ability. However there is a part of the SL that I was struggled to enter into I could hear the S and then the response of the AL, and I would think ”I would have said ‘….’” or was the AL actually listening. Yet as SL I would easily bet distracted by, for instance, a text on my phone or my printer beeping – or even a web page. It was hard to sit in the tension and be still.
I tried to ask for an adjustment so I could questions answered and Edwin firmly yet softly insisted that we continue with the ECG.
I am definitely hungry for empathy. I feel like I yearn to understand the empathy that ECs use and ECG proscribes. I know that many people will find EC at a level where they could enter into the current ECG format and entering a EC could be a formative start towards deeper empathy.
It was a wonderful experience and I look forward to the next time I can join an EC.