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Michael Sheely

Michael Sheely

The Empathy Coach: I teach, train, and support people in using empathy to manifest their dreams and visions: personal, relational, community and business.

1. What is your name, background and interest with training empathy?

Hi everybody, Thanks for organizing this Edwin. I'm Michael Sheely. My background is in Compassionate Communication, Restorative Justice, Mediation, Counseling, Coaching, Empathy Training, Authentic Relating.

I teach empathy to various groups, right now I am running an online program for coaches.

2. What are your ideas for forming an International Empathy Trainers Association?
I think the world needs some consistency around what empathy is and how it is done effectively.

3. What sort of support do you need from IETA?

Establishing interdisciplinary meaning of empathy so that there is not disagreement and what empathy is and particularly I would like to dispel the idea of empathy burnout and find another name for emotional contagion exhaustion.

4. How would you like to contribute of building the Association?

I would like to see this generate dialogue leading to agreement from empathy professionals.

5. What questions do you have for others on the list?

I am curious what other people think about the idea of empathy burnout. 

Meeting 2016-06-08

Intention for this meeting

Explore need to create common definition for empathy and also, therefore, components involved in teaching empathy.

Edwin  interviews  Michael

What is a pain you have as a empathy trainer?

Pain: when I tell people I’m a empathy trainer they say,

  • Can you really train empathy?

  • You have to be careful with too much empathy!

I want to know how to touch and reach those people who say:
Can you really train empathy?
You have to be careful with too much empathy!

I want to Create a common understanding of what empathy means.

Bring that consciousness in the world. The word empathy is not being useful to connect some people.

Too much time spent on what it is and isn’t, if it is good or bad, rather than learning the skills.

The word is confusing for a lot of people.

We are wasting our precious time arguing about the word. We need to understand each other, we need connection, we need to acknowledge how we are all in this together. Let’s pick a word for it and get it in schools, have parents teach it to their kids, have it be part of the way we do business.

(We need mutual understanding and connection)

Pain point- Can you really train empathy?

You have to be careful about having too much empathy. This signals a lack of understanding about what is empathy.

Michael sees that empathy is important cultural value. He sees a block- a common language is missing. He wants folks on the same page and then we can leverage empathy. So much time is wasted on explaining empathy rather than practicing it. A role we may have is to bring the conversation into the public space. Confusion turns people away. It is painful when I see wasted time and effort on discussing if empathy is useful. I think this represents misunderstanding around the term.


life and business coaching Using empathy process. Agrees that self-empathy is at the core of being to empathize. Avoiding any “harm” of empathy by being able to use “self-empathy” as core. Grow your life and business.

Stephan Interviews Michael

Michael (by Stephan): What would ideal IETA look like for you?  

Main role to establish a baseline understanding of what empathy is and how we can teach it and learn it. Hesitant about certifications, but interested in question of creating some kind of a standard, to recognize people who have developed a certain level of skills

(biggest personal gain from it?)

Establish more credibility in the empathy realm. Empathy a vague concept, and competing entitities trying to define it for their own purposes.  Who are we, how do we measure this “empathy” we are talking about...IETA establish some kind of definition/measure/standard to strengthen our presence. CREDIBILITY comes from clarification, needs to build up every day and academic and scientific credibility.  

Empathy should be a major profession!!!! Need to train lots and lots of empathy trainers as a profession. Biosphere, distributive economies, global internet, other issues -- empathy essential to our survival and needs to grow in all of these areas. INTERDISCIPLINARY necessary for survival

(next step?)

A shared vision… work collectively and collaboratively for it.

Task Ideas

  • Empathy curriculum

  • Association - related, having some common understanding of empathy.

  • Schedule a meeting. A shared vision. Is a task that needs to be done.