2019-07-03 ACTIVISTS #6

Topic: What is your experience of taking part in an Empathy Circle?

In this Empathy Circle participant who have previously taken part in an Empathy Circle will discuss the experience of taking part in the circle.

  • * What do you experience?

  • * What feelings come up?

  • * What do you like?

  • * What do you not like?

  • * What would you wish for?

  • * etc, etc.?

About the Empathy Circle An Empathy Circle is a structured dialogue process that effectively supports meaningful and constructive dialogue. It increases mutual understanding and connection by ensuring that each person feels fully heard to their satisfaction.


  1. Edwin Rutsch - (Director) Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

  2. Minter Dial - (Author) Heartificial Empathy

  3. Martin Golder - Mediator - Empathy Enthusiast

Transcript to Clean.

okay this is our empathy experts or I

should say empathy activists circle

these are people who have worked are

working extensively on the topic of

empathy we're taking part in an empathy

circle here's let's get started with the

introductions I'm Edwin Raj director the

Center for building a culture of empathy

so for about 14 years I've been working

quite intensively on topic of empathy

how do we build a more empathic Society

interviewing hundreds of experts on the

topic and doing all kinds of different

projects so Martin would you like to

introduce yourself next okay my name is

Martin Golda I'm a mediator in British

Columbia in Canada when I my most of my

career was actually as an architect but

I became a mediator in about 1996 and

discovered that empathy was actually one

of the central tools of conflict

resolution and and I was woefully short

of it I often start my lectures by

saying that my empathy was surgically

removed in British boarding school and

there's a lot of truth to that so I

developed a concept of mechanical

empathy one might say my wife says I

should call it prosthetic empathy for

something you strap on if you've had

your empathy removed you can strap on

prosthetic empathy and in fact in terms

of conflict resolution it actually works

very well I would say I'm using the

intellectual side of empathy in that I'm

getting into content a bit here but

anyway that's how I got into the whole

subject of empathy and I went on a bit

of a quest about a 15 year quest to see

if I could find the real thing and how

at the time I started it was generally

thought that you know you either had it

or you didn't and but as it turns out as

we now know it it can be taught it can

be acquired and I've talked to me

PhDs with fMRI machines that confirm

confirm that so

that's who I am oh great thanks mentor

work in progress

smarten a so my name is min turd dial

I am 54 and live in Europe although

mixed baggage in my background I've

lived in Canada and United States

England France Spain Switzerland and a

few other places have been places about

space I was born in Belgium and today

I'm a speaker author filmmaker and my

last book I don't have a copy of it but

I thought I'd drum up a digital version

X I'm a kind of a digital geek it's

called heart official empathy I'm just I

don't know if you can see if there's not

so well here's some other more or less

blurred out anyway harder for sympathy

putting heart into business and

artificial intelligence and in the wake

of that book I've been looking at

exactly how to encode food empathy into

businesses and into machines and like

you March and I came into it saying well

I I must say I previously had come

across it as a wonderful concept running

business in L'Oreal where I worked for

16 years and and yet when I started to

write the book I realized that I too had

some deficiencies in the empathy

compartment and and I offers and I also

like you got very sort of focus more on

the let's say the cognitive side of it

rather than the emotional side which is

something more learn about I think than

the emotional or affective empathy

oh great well we're gonna have some a

chance to talk about empathy here we're

doing an empathy circle and I'll just

give a short introduction you both know

how to do it but for anyone watching how

it empathy circle works we have on our

website we have a one-page description

that's quite accessible so an empathy

circle is based on mutual active

listening so in this process one person

speaks and they select you they're going

to speak to and they talked about the

topic at hand or whatever is alive for

them whatever comes up that's you know

kind of a burning topic on top of your

mind or feelings you speak to the person

you're supposed to speak to your chosen

that person and you pause periodically

and that the person you're speaking to

reflects back their understanding of

what you've said sort of recap being

summarizing paraphrasing but just kind

of getting the essence of what the

speaker is saying and the intention is

for the speaker to be heard to their

satisfaction and the speaker will have

six-minute turn so you can speak for you

know six minutes on topic and then once

you feel heard to your satisfaction at a

time is up and you can say I feel fully

heard then it would be the listeners

turn to become the speaker and then

choose someone else in the group and

that person reflects back we go around

for the time allotted so a couple tips

that is the speaker you know you want to

pause periodically so the listener can

reflect back with their hearing the

speakers you say and also if you're the

listener and the speaker is kind of

going on and on you can say you can ask

for a pause though if you just pause let

me reflect back because it becomes a lot

to sort of hold you know the most if it

becomes multiple concepts so that's

pretty much the essence of it so in the

as a listener active listener you're

reflecting back the essence of what you

hear and you're recapping and you're

trying to avoid putting your own stuff

and they're not putting any judgments or

or die

nursing or advising but just really

trying to share what you hear the person

say so that's the other component so

this topic is a bit of a mecca a sort of

a topic it's what is your experience of

taking part in the empathy circle so you

know what are you experiencing what

feelings come up what insights come up

what do you like with you not like so

does that seem pretty clear and I'll do

the timekeeping as well and so it's

really about this this practice which

you know for my years of experience I

find this like the most sort of easy

first step sort of gateway practice or

trying to sort of promote it you know

create as much information and

experience rather as possible that's why

works we're using the process and

talking about it at the same time so

with that if anybody would like to start

you know select - you'd like to speak to

and we can just get the ball rolling if

you want to speak to me as a sample

that's good - or over anybody feels

motivated Marcin do you feel like

jumping in well I suppose somebody has

to do you mean as ELISA or a speaker as

a speaker okay yes okay well mentor I

guess I'll we're somewhat limited in our

choices today but choose it but you can

choose the Joker I guess at the moment I

mean one of the things I've wrestled

with quite a bit is in in mediations in

conflict resolution I often run into a

perception that any expressions of

empathy and compassion are considered

weaknesses to be exploited by the other

side and I have a friend in Brussels a

corporate lawyer and and she says

empathy is no part of my business I it's

just not part of my

seen at all and yes go ahead

so what you're saying what I hear you

saying Martin is that in your practice

of mediation you oftentimes come across

the notions that empathy and or

compassion can be scenes seen as

weaknesses and some people will have a

sort of a nervous reaction to it so I

don't want any of that absolutely yeah

and so I have an ongoing conversation

with this particular corporate lawyer

just because we became friends in Madrid

the conference there and you know and

it's not that I'm trying to persuade her

to adopt empathy although perhaps I am

and I'm I sort of feel like my mission

is to try and open her eyes to and for

me to find out from her experience you

know does them with the impact have any

meaning in the world that she exists

then of you know corporate lore and and

she does conflict resolution between

states I guess as well she does so but

you're sometimes feeling but not store

whether you are there to persuade her

about benefits or role of empathy in her

work her work me a little bit different

she's a lawyer and seems to be mediating

between states right and you know she

made the right maybe maybe empathy

doesn't have any place in her world and

I'm I feel a little unsure of that and

yet you know within the other world that

I exist in sort of more empathic world

where everybody is just like an empathy

guru it seems crazy to think that the

somewhere where empathy as Paul bloom

might say you know is there's not

appropriate so in in your world I assume

what you mean there's sort of your peers

as opposed to the

work of mediation with people who are

upset at one another it seems that there

many people that obviously have drunk

the kool-aid and think empathy is the

greatest thing and as useful for

everybody except mr. bloom who might be

against empathy right absolutely okay

well that was how we doing for time

okay okay okay so anyway that's one of

the one of the areas that that I have

going on the frontiers of my research

see I like yes the other one that's

that's really big right now for me is

that it's not so much the empathy thing

but it well I was really glad to see

empathy circles and extinction rebellion

kind of coming into some kind of

alignment there and talking to each

other I have a group called the final

run which is not only individuals final

run the period between say retirement

and death something like that also a

cultural violent or final run for

Humanity is paralleling that individual

process and and I'm not sure I mean it's

a kind of a separate thing from empathy

but then empathy infiltrates everything

and the final run for a moment in our

human culture is the dominant story oh

you were first of all saying that this

is this is a second big area of interest

to suppose within empathy when you were

excited to see how empathy circles and

the extinction rebellion threads were

weaved in and then you link in to that

this notion final run whether or not

it's the let's move it into the hospice

you know the ACA as we move towards

death and I suppose in stages before

that or on a more meta cultural level

the the end of civilization or somehow

some of our civilizations if that's what

I am

that's right yes and and you know how

might I mean Edwin has a you know very

strong model that he would tout I think

as as you know a sort of a solution to

everything in some ways maybe not you

can correct us on that later I went but

and I wonder I wonder you know I don't

know I you know could I go to the front


you know what does empathy look like on

the front lines and I I have a lot of

kind of unknowns in my life around

around the future unfolding and how it

will actually hit me and how I will

actually react in more extreme

situations cool if I understand

correctly you're looking at well you you

wonder how empathy will play out at the

front line wherever that front line

abstract is it might seem in terms of

the evolution of society and and where

he in control of that and how empathy

will play out within that you sort of

question oh and of course the finality

of the outcomes that might be facing in

terms of piety yes where if you you've

cut out a few things in that but but yes

basically I definitely feel that you

heard what I was saying so thank you

very much my pleasure

I'm assuming that you was technical

cutouts or because I was doing

abbreviations of your audios ranking up

a little bit I have a Parisian Wi-Fi

system as well yeah so Edwin listening

let me speak to you so empathy circles

let me start by talking about my

experience of them and then move into

what I think of them so my experience of

them was that I I really felt very naive

when I first embarked on them and as I

started I really felt very inadequate in

my ability to listen and I I could find

my busy brain going haywire and and of

course this is also at the very

beginning connecting into the new people

which confuses my mind so what I'm

hearing there is that your experience

when you're first started was one you're

feeling a sense of inadequacy so I'm a

bit of anxiety about that and then also

you have a lot of new people in the

circle there's sort of a so maybe some

bangs you didn't say they weren't

anxiety but may be so many anxiety

around you know relating to the new

people and then the in in the process of

the very first one how I I start to be a

little bit more

clued in to it then then there's members

the second empathy circle and it's a new

set of people I'm a little acclimate

it's the ideas and the procedures of it

and yet I can still see my limbic brain

coming out or at least other elements of

my reactions that confuse confound what

I'm hearing and all the same by the end

I feel like I'm back in a good place

where I am getting this and then now I'm

where I I get go oh you're breaking up a

little bit there you may want to pause

your video just because your voice is

breaking up not give you more bandwidth

okay so do me to say I'll say what I

heard so what I heard is like the first

day the first circulated be had so that

anxiety but you started getting familiar

with the process so the second time you

still had you know some discomfort or

but you are getting more comfortable

with the practice and then that's kind

of work where I stopped the hearing was

good to the point now that I I'm Garrett

in from I'm dialed in from minute one

okay so from the from the beginning

you're you're familiar with it and when

you get started like right now you're

just feeling more comfortable with your

my mind sets much more ready for having

done several of these not only by notion

of I have to meet Martin new person

obviously I know you

and and then there's the idea of that

mind space to be present enough to

really focus in on what's you know

what's being said by the individuals

okay so if you get more comfortable you

get more kind of present to be able to

be present with with people and now you

feel more comfortable and more present

an exam earns there that's right no but

that's that's the notion right so that's

my experience as to my opinion of them

so as a as a technique I like a lot of

the elements the process the notion of

two hours and the limited number of

people like an empathy circle with three

for example I feel like there's there's

more there could be more flexibility

within that and certainly for the two

hours on a practical level especially

since for me it's 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. it's

it's a whack that's that's dinner time

you know and we live in compressed times

so I feel like the two hours may be a

very onerous element on an ongoing basis

hmm so for the sort of practical aspect

the time is is difficult I mean two

hours for an empathy circle with busy

lives you know is is sort of it's

difficult and especially if it's you

know with finding time to work for the

people then you're doing it around

dinnertime and so that gets like another

complication I mean of course time is

precious for everybody so the then the

point becomes the usage of empathy

circles especially in my field which is

more in a business space and it seems

impossible for me to use an amputee

circle in a business environment

especially since it feels like the real

benefits start

sink in only it empathy circle two or

three the sustainable benefits the

benefit where I feel like I'm ready I

mean yeah so there's a with the empathy

circle it takes time to kind of work

your way into it into the second third

one and then by the third time you feel

comfortable you're ready to really get

in deeper and that it sounds like you're

saying that the the time aspect in a

business would be really difficult to do

that because you know just it takes so

much time

yeah that's right and if I have more

time I'd one that was six minutes but if

you only just finished well just the the

final element is that I feel like the

embassy circle is a good entree as you


yet there are going there needs to be

others that are you know maybe

sophisticate the elements of empathy in

a business environment so it's not just

listening to the words being said but it

might be decoding the emotions and and

everything else that goes into empathy

so there's a to make it practical in a

work environment you feel there needs to

be other sort of aspects brought in for

example how do you read feelings and or

decode them yes I feel hurt okay

then I'll speak to Martin yeah there is

one thing I like the term I think though

Stephen can be mentioned the empathy

takes time and efficiency as machines so

it's that notion that one thing about

empathy is it does take time you know so

that and I find it like with doing the

empathy circle it usually takes about an

hour to just through and even start

getting you know kind of comfortable

getting familiar with the practice and

they're sort of like in the second hour

where everybody is you sort of sink in

deeper and

that it's yes my experience okay so what

you're saying is that yeah empathy takes

a bit of time and Stephen Covey said

that empathy takes time and efficiency

as for machines and so your experience

of the empathy circles is in that first

hour or is where people are just kind of

coming to grips with okay so this is

empathy and the and the process that's

going on and then in the second hour

they start to okay I get it now and then

maybe something deeper happens in that

second balance yeah and the the practice

is basically built is just the active

listening a lot Carl Rogers who used

active you really develop the practice

within the therapeutic realm of sitting

with an hour with the client and just

listening to them in using active

listening or an ethic listening so it's

it comes from that experience and that

practice and you know therapeutic world

work the therapist just sits and listens

in a non directive way just hearing the

person who is speaking giving them space

to share and having someone that's sort

of accompanying them on their journey

without trying to tell them where to go

or what to do so one of the features of

empathy circles comes out of the

experience of the therapeutic movement

and active listening Carl Rogers and

others where you are as the chosen

listener in the interaction you are just

listening and paying attention and

letting the other person feel that

somebody is listening and somebody is

hearing me and get to the point where

Wow I've been heard and there's you know

all kinds the studies that you know for

a really good you know for a therapist

to do for healing you know an offer

healing that the empathy is in an ethnic

therapist is the it's like a requirement

the best therapists or the most empathic

ones in terms of for for you know

supporting people in in their healing

and growth so in terms of the again

coming out to the therapeutic model and

a healing modality within an empathy

circle the the best listeners the best

healers other people who are most

emphatic yeah and at least that's what

they're the studies I've seen have been

and then so we're trying to do is take

it out of this therapeutic realm where

there's you know a trained therapist and

bring it into a mutuality

so we're it's mutual listening something

that anyone can do so to make it sort of

reproducible to the to the masses so to

speak to the white you know anybody with

a little bit of practice do a couple

circles watch some and then you can

start taking part so it's something

that's you know takes it out of the

professional world and brings it into

just human interactions so one of the

things that you're trying to do with

empathy circles is to take the healing

and empathic mode and make it available

to everybody so not just you don't have

to go down to the to the therapists you

can get together with a bunch of people

have an empathy circle and and anybody

can do that yeah and when I did

something like you hear a mediator and

so I've done mediation trainings here as

well and from my observation if this

mutual the mediator is sort of like

trying to listen to and listen to the

different parties and ethically and then

get the parties to impact listen to each

other it's like the core practice it

seems to me of mediation and the epital

the core of that mediation you know it's

the core practice of if you had if

there's a conflict you bring it into an


circle the whole practice in using

active listed mutual active listening

sort of unravels the Gordian can unravel

accordion not most conflicts right

so in paralleling empty circles to a

practice of mediation there was a lot of

similarities that in terms of the

essence of a mediation and conflict

dealing with conflict is to empathically

go to each party and have each party

feel heard you know only by the mediator

but also by each other yeah kind of ten

more to say but my time is not my field

okay great

well maybe I'll talk back to you then

okay on this one you know yeah I really

liked what mentor was saying I mean

jumping straight into the the reason for

this I mean focusing on you know our

reaction to empty circles and and how we

have it have it have experienced them I

think you know for me I've often said

that I love the fact that you have those

two weights that you sometimes lift up

behind you and say it's all about the

practice practice practice you know you

just keep exercising those empathic

muscles and they get stronger and


the I think for me that the whole I mean

the listening is is the key really and

and sometimes it's pretty difficult you

know to actually listen to people and to

actually hear what they're saying

sometimes it's it's so page and and and

then my mind wanders or you know and I'm

not focused and I think the empathy

circle for me has been a really good

it's like an exercise it is like this

you know there's this so what you're

speaking to is the exercise it's a it's

a it's an exercising and a practising of

it it's analogous that I can use that


to that story and you know shows the

weights and so you do see it as a as a

practice and it sounds like sometimes

when you're listening to people it's

clear what they're saying and other

kinds of sort of opaque to so you could

have different qualities of hearing

people yes absolutely and and so my

experience at the empty circles has

always been that Wow you know and as you

know sometimes I found it quite hard

quite difficult and and then at other

times it just flows and so that probably

is the you know the familiarity again

that that meant to talk about of doing

it two or three times and and eventually

it flows a lot more easily and yeah so

sometimes you're noticing the different

qualities of it that sometimes when

you're taking part it's like it's it's

difficult and other times it flows and

perhaps part of the flow is just doing

it more yes and and then the other thing

that mentor was talking about there too

was the you know what he thought of it

and what he thought of the empathy

circles and so I was just thinking about

that a little bit I mean usually when I

finish one I'm thinking wow that that is

a really good technology I really like

that and it is very simple as you

mentioned - very similar as you

mentioned to some of the situations

might be in a mediation it's I you know

there is a part of the practitioners and

you know I've certainly been there where

you want to react to something to what

somebody else is saying you know as

opposed to just telling them what they

said and I think the the discipline of

you know going through that to just

reflecting what they've said it is one

of the powerful things and I've just I'm

just thinking about example the other

day on the climate change thing where

you know one

participants hmm really really very very

different views about that and it was

very hard not to react to some of those

years hmm

so again made part of the practice is

that like when you're listening to

someone you find that you know you're

wanting to react to them like they say

something you want to immediately react

and they're sort of in the practice

you're only having to listen so it's a

good practice just to listen and notice

actually an example you know in the

climate change where somebody was saying

something felt which may be sort of

outrageous you just really wanted to

react to it we had to sort of hold back

and just listen yes yes and so you know

when I you know think of you know you're

moving the empathy circle into

contentious realms you know with the the

protesters at Berkeley or or or the

climate change thing where you really

get people on on with different views a

you know I think for a long time I

wondered how useful is it going to be

you know how people will people play the

game you know will they abide by the

rules and you know no I just want to

shout you down and and I I guess I'd be

interested in hearing no stories more

extreme situations - yeah so you're

you're wondering like in really

contentious situations with people doing

empathy circles would they stay with the

practice and the process so they just

you know start yelling at each other and

you're kind of interested in hearing

like stories about it and so I just kind

of curious about that yeah yeah no I

shouldn't hearing some of your views on

that I don't know if I feel fully hurt

either okay okay no I'm I I mean how

could I not feel fully heard talking to

you hey you feel full you're like me we

listening to you

okay then I'll speak to thanks major and

you meet it so I saw had my video off I

suppose I could do it when I'm not

speaking but in this case to keep it


I need to get so okay let's see wow that

was great so yeah there's some things

coming up one thing sort of responding

to mentor you're saying that you know

about the empathy circle being sort of a

there needs to be more in business I do

see it as the empathy circle is like a

first step but it's like a really

important first step and it's like and

like with the practice it's just like we

I feel like you need to practice it you

need to get really comfortable with it

just like when you're getting more and

more comfortable with the mentor that

you know if you just keep doing it and

doing it get more and more that comfort

kind of gets deeper and deeper ingrained

and I think that's a real that's what

what the practice of it is is that that

getting really really comfortable with

the practice so while I had mentioned I

needed a mentor had mentioned more

complexity maybe other elements

necessary you reiterate it is a first

place first base and yet really

fundamental element that needs to be

practiced on a ray or an iterative basis

yeah yeah and it's something that we can

teach every person in the world to

become a facilitator it's within it's

sort of doable in terms of like you know

everyone could learn the practice and I

think it would be like a first it'd be

sort of like a first step momentum to

get people to go down that path the

empathy path so if we can necessarily my

sort of goal is around the empathy

circle really to sort of mass-produce it

and then make it something that's just

accessible for everyone to do because

people can get a lot of benefits out of

this you get a lot a huge amount of

payoff then

fits just with this first basic practice

yes so you're looking at the empathy

circle as a way to democratize the

notions and you see it as being

something that many people could

facilitate once you've done it a few

times you can get the process and you

could make it therefore easier more

accessible to many more people

yeah for example in my family this

Sunday we're going to be doing a family

empathy circle and we just did one you

know a month and a half ago so we have

this issue in the family that the last

one was four hours it will probably go

another four or five hours this Sunday

so we get the family together and we you

know just kind of talk about this this

this family issue

and it really helps you know the family

members have become very trusting and

the practice things that would have

blown up before you know it's like

here's a oh if I just stick with this

practice and I'll be heard we'll be able

to work things through so that's just

something I can see every in any family

you know using this practice you know

quite quickly and you can really you

know get a lot of benefits in your

family or you know with close

relationships in terms of having this

tool to work out issues so you've used

heavily circle within your family and

articulated around one specific issue

it went on for four hours and then

you're gonna do another one and you can

see it going on same amount of time in

the process it's the

trust as anybody feels oh I'm beginning

to get it and I know that I at least

will have my chance to be heard yep so

it is yeah it is that trust building

aspect and and it's also a sort of a

fallback position that you can get

really good into practice and then you

can sort of let go of it than just

dialogue you know you can just turn into

normal regular dialogue but then

dialogue can break down right it's like

just kind of using typical dialogue

breaks down you say oh it's broken down

this is our fallback position is the

empathy circle so if it's sort of like a

safety net in terms of conflict that

okay we can just chat it's fine and

invariably things break down somebody

says something somebody gets pissed off

the tensions start rising you say up

let's go back to the fantastic listening

you know mutual empathic listening and

then you kind of build up trust and you

can let go of it again so in the nature

of a conversation your family the

empathy circles you might switch off the

empathy circle technical elements so

move into a more natural organic

conversation you know but as soon as the

conversation and then starts wobbling

and issues start returning back into the

conversation you can circle back and use

the embassy empathy circle to normalize

maybe safety at you word used allow us

to come back to some kind of safer space

and then continue on exactly I still

fully heard thank you my pleasure

so let me for the sake of keeping the

rhythm different I don't know I'm going

to speak back to you add when so

I have my let's say my angle of course

is very much my business filter and I

also have this AI filter and I have

explored how machines could detect

empathy and that's sort of where my

baggage is when I come into this you

have two areas that you're focusing on

is is the business empathy in business

and empathy and AI so they're sort like

filters or baggage that you're bringing

with you absolutely as opposed to

mediation or let's say family issues and

as such I'm quite interested in in

understanding and building up context

call it data points in AI and reading

emotions such as as they are expressed

through so many different ways including

voice facial expressions heartbeats body

language and as a result I'm curious to

see how empathy circles could evolve to

allow us to pick up on these other

elements which are not I would say

intrinsic to the notion of strict

listening so you're looking at empathy

within AI as you know how do you read

the body language the tone of voice and

create these different data points for

artificial intelligence and you're just

wondering how how the empathy circle

could sort of fit into to that framework

those AI and the technical aspect of the

computer aspirant the yes for it for

example at this very moment being Meza

you are only listening to my

you have no indication as to whether I'm

standing up I'm frowning and being

cynical sarcastic or whatever and

therefore you are focused on one single

signal which is my the words coming out

of my mouth

and the intonation that I have and

that's one form of listening but I could

very well be spinning a story and inside

by you crossed arms showing very

different type of body language but

that's not picked up in the empathy

circle as it sits so right now I'm only

hearing your voice and the intonation

and your body language could be

something totally different so you're

we're only picking up serve lunch at a

channel of your expression versus you

know the the physical how you're

physically looking if it's crossed arm

or you know whatever and I find I find

that notion of context and emotion

reading necessarily important in

building up cognitive empathy I leave

you to swallow that one so it's

important so it's important to have all

those sort of data points is different

for building cognitive empathy yes

and so yes if it sport it hard to hear

I'm sorry about that but the the other

zone of interest from for me is that a

this format is fungible so we can use it

for families and mediation but it

strikes me that the question we're gonna

debate is is structure is is structuring

so that if we're in a mediating or

conflictual environment the nature of

our ability to stick with that

constrained question or issue is deeply

important and and the ability for the

moderator to keep us focused on that

specific zone that we've mutually agreed

to an advance so one aspect of a

facilitator like or team leader whatever

keep people on topic instead of it kind

of drifting all over the place is that

yes it's interesting that you have to

struggle with the technical elements of

listening as well sorry about that

but I so my point was first there's the

complexity of listening and reading

emotions that go beyond reformulating

the words I'm listening to a larger z'

and to the nature of the issue that

we're discussing for example people you

know very well it's oftentimes much

harder to be empathic with them than it

is with a person you're sitting beside

on an airplane meeting for the first

time ok so there's there's sort of the

understanding part it seems to be

important that something you can have

really good understanding for someone

who you don't know personally you know

they've got an airplane we that you

could have deep understanding with them

it may be more difficult

with your family member yeah or issues

with more baggage more babies so I I

just was thinking in the empathy circle

the way I'm approaching this is layering

in these two other areas one is the

different emotional readings and context

data points are ultimately going to be

necessary for artificial intelligence

and two to think about the spectrum of

of people and issues that we're looking

at and I think there's a modularity that

could help us to make empathy circles

more efficient not necessarily in time

but specific to what we're trying to

achieve okay so you're saying that the

empathy circle could be developed to

make it more effective in terms of the

outcome that's desired yes keeps coming

to me is so the building on the empathy

in the empathy circle how did it sort of

expand it like I just keep focusing on

this first step but there is another

step that I think would be important

which is the the feeling part is it as a

speaker you know we can deepen the

empathy circle by the speaker sharing

more of their feelings I could share

more of my felt experience right now

that would kind of contribute to the

deepening the emotional deepening of

this so the speaker can do something to

speak more from their emotional physical

space right so in this first stage of

the empty circle you kind of

where we focus on the the back and forth

the the act of the reflective listening

you're looking to move that into perhaps

the emotional level so what can the

speaker do in telling their story that

carries more emotion and can that be

reflected back by the listener yeah

and it's actually easier for the

listener to reflect back feelings and

complex you know concepts I've noticed -


so you see yeah so for the listener to

reflect back feelings they yes they I

can immediately see that sorry as

opposed to from sometimes we get into

some very complex wordy things and the

listener has a hard time yeah so this

was actually already with Crowell Rogers

and his grad students because there's a

whole field of how to take it to the

next step and all these different grad

students of Carl Rogers kind of took it

off in all kinds of different directions

and the one was Jean gentleman one of

his grad students who said who are the

people in therapy who are having the

most growth kind of like emotional you

know working through their problems and

what is it that's making them more

successful and from his studies it was

the people who spoke about their felt

experience in the moment and shared

their felt experience in the moment had

the most growth so he developed the

whole practice called focusing which I

would call self empathy is to notice

your own felt experience in the moment

and and share that and then have someone

be accompanying you with empathic

listening so that would be a step you

know another step to deepening the

practice is for the speaker to get

really good at just sharing how they

feel yeah I don't I feel in them in the

moment you know I feel pretty excited

about the topic here I feel kind of

relaxed and spacious I feel kind of a

sense of warmth you know towards you

know both of you for kind of exploring

this topic so that's just some of it I

feel sort of yeah sort of a spaciousness

okay here he has to be so so from Carl

Rogers working and the various students

who went off and explored his work more

deeply one of the subjects was who's

getting the best results and and how is

that happening and it was discovered by

one of his students I don't know the

name gene gentleman who discovered that

the people who shared more of their

emotional states in the moment tended to

get the better results and so you're

thinking if we apply this to empty

circles where people are encouraged

perhaps to to share more of how they're

actually feeling in the moment at a very

emotional level that might be a place

for empathy circles to explore some new

territory yeah that would be a next step

and I shared some of my experience too

so that was just as an example how you

felt very expansive and whether some

other ones you know just excited I did

yep and okay I know there's things yeah

and then you then you thank just for

sharing this experience yeah I was

sharing my gratitude I felt I feel

gratitude that you're here you know

talking about this and exploring this

together so I do feel gratitude for your

participation okay you feel gratitude

yeah the other thing about deed I've

been Dean you know just recently in the

last year it's just been sort of an

explosion of talk about empathy and

artificial intelligence and the one

concern I have is that it's like here's

this simple practice of just doing

empathic listening but people want to go

off and do all this complicated computer

stuff you know and I would like to see

them first master this simple practical

step on all those people all those


all those writers that I see can you

just learn and practice something that's

sort of accessible and I've been I've

talked to artificial intelligence people

in Eric just seems like oh yes kind of a


I'm not saying as for the mentor but

this is like it's a sales job and it's

like but they couldn't even do a

empathic listening you know what I mean

it's I get it I get a little concerned

about that that it's becomes like is is

hot topic but you know how about

starting with just the you know have all

those folks who are studying artificial

intelligence just learn to do an empathy

circle to begin with and then built it

would actually see it would actually

help in the development of the

artificial intelligence I think to have

those deeper personal experiences okay

so with the the fact that you know in

the AI well the exploration of ethics

and empathy is a really hot topic you're

feeling that perhaps all these people

who are studying that could use an

empathy circle or two to just come to

the basics oh yeah learning some of

those skills on the front lines of their

lives and it would improve their there's

this the work that they're doing I think

right and so then they could take that

experience and start applying that in

the work they're doing in AI yeah I

thought heard thank you okay thank you

okay well I'll just keep moving around

the circle then and and down to your

mentor and I'll stop I'll stop my video

well no you don't have to while you're

listening if you like actually they're

leaving the problem Oh eNOS it is really

nice just wish to see you as opposed to

the light and of some some code across

there that comes when you're not there

if you start breaking up I'll let you

know you can see I have a pit behind me

here that's France up there au revoir

save you know give you some okay it's

the waterways we have a boat in

nice so okay I am those were some real I

mean this is just so exciting I I am

think what it's excited to be here I

must say you know and it's and it's

funny because it is such a simple

practice and yet within that simple

practice there are like so many embedded

skills and that make me happy to be here

and then and then you know with meeting

you mentor here too is also extremely

exciting to you know to to hear such a

if I might say such an intellect you

know talking is just always really

really exciting so thank you for being

here well I shake my head in tote I I

shake my head in total judgment try to

try to refuse the judgment that you're


maybe but anyway that was service I'm

not sure what sort of sense of humor

that was but anyway what you are

experiencing is excitement of how the

amp can you hear me okay yep how the

empathy circle is a seemingly simple

exercise but it it very quickly explodes

into many more different pieces that are

interestingly interesting in their own

elements and anyway you're enjoying the

experience of this empathy circle yes

very much thank you and and where could

it go I mean this this AI thing is as

Edwin was saying it's obviously very big

and obviously you're very much into it

and I even had a little conversation

with aggregate IQ about it the other day

but as being a Victoria company you know

here in Canada but

it's you know whenever I introduce the

concept of you know empathy into the AI

conversation there are a lot of head

shakers you know if you know you have

the old classic of the automated car and

the old lady and the kids on the

crosswalk you know and how does the AI

make that kind of decision

and then it's becoming much more you

know it's moved to so much more complex

levels now so you're and you're talking

about the body language and and all the

features that you know facial

recognition software can detect about

speakers as being part of that input

it's at the moment it's just like a huge

humble jumble and you know in my mind

it's definitely not organized and just

to finish I'd say there's a really very

funny video of a guy and and his

daughter or a little kid like a

one-year-old at 1:51 and a half year old

kid talking and and the kid is going

well or light or light rather and the

data all right oh yeah wahhhh

and the king of madra and they have this

long conversation with absolutely no

worse than this like this it's you'd

swear they were talking and they are

they are talking there's definitely a

conversation happening there between

them with this this child language what

would a I make of that I wonder so a lot

to digest so looking at empathy in

artificial intelligence which is a

burgeoning area the complexities within

it let's say we're far from convincing

you of the possibilities or maybe

probabilities of it anyway within

artificial intelligence and you're

useful you know say

on the fence as to its possibility and

you you reference the idea of of all the

other elements to go into a conversation

including nonverbal communication

because in that case you have a father

and a child who aren't verbalizing words

that are cognitively recognizable but

still are conversing and probably

there's some sort of empathy and emotion

going on there and what would a machine

think about that absolutely yeah I think

it's not so much that I'm not convinced

that this is a part that we or almost a

rabbit hole that we're going down it's

more that people in in conversations

that I'm with are not convinced about it

I I think I'm you know I would certainly

be happy to be on the frontline of

working with you know artificial

intelligence people on some of those

issues because I it is fascinating

although I confess that when I was

saying that I do feel lost I feel very

lost in that in that in those realms so

you you come across many people who are

do potata v' about the idea of empathy

and AI

you're excited about it yet it's let's

say a vast if not confusing topic

absolutely yeah

so where so is there someplace I empty

circles as as I've been saying it's this

simple technology it's an it's like an

intro and introductive technology how

would how would empty circles fit into

you know this burgeoning field of AI

empathy and AI and you know I I mean I

guess one tends to have mixed feelings

about the whole world of AI but you know

you can have mixed feelings about

anything and it still comes rolling down

the pike a so

you you sort of have to just kind of

take it on as it comes no so we're not

sure about the possibilities of empathy

in AI but it does seem let's say more

likely to be a in our future and then

the question is how do we take it on and

it's going to be every each one to their

own because everything can be good or

bad it depends how you use it if I can

reformulate yes yes there's certainly in

essence yeah that's - I often say to

people you know you can build a house

with a hammer or you can hit somebody

over the head

so say okay well no I feel heard on

heard on that thank you lovely so I'm

gonna come back at you Martin with video

in queue you can raise your finger or if

you need me to kill the video that way

you can practice just audio so empathy

circles as a method have

definitely improve my understanding of

listening skills and I understand their

benefit as an introductory element i yet

need to figure out step two step three

because change in a in an organization

typically can't just stay at the

listening space for example at the

conclusion of every empathy circle the

the business minded individual want to

know all right what do we what do we

agree on we agreed on we might be better

listeners okay so the empty circles for

you have have definitely increased your

appreciation and abilities perhaps even

in in listening and how do we move that

into the next step in fact what is the

next step of that process because within

you mentioned the business context for

instance you would come to the end of an

empathy circle and people would want

some answers they want it laid down okay

what did we decide you know what is that

and and is that a piece of empty circles

that needs to be developed or just like

in presumably in mediation you you or

the issue that's at hand we could talk

about an issue that's non contentious

and we have a nice time but nice times

to forget a word in a business

environment about that kind of need to

have a an objective and a resolution and

if you have mediation you kind of want a

solution to the issue that you're

mediating around and therefore as a

judge in a courtroom will decide there

is a decision or or some resolution and

even the expression of the resolution

can it by itself be contentious right so

with the empathy circles I mean you

still or rather with a mediation moving

into that kind of model as you come to

the end of the mediation there is a

decision needed or an outcome that is

desired and by the parties and how do

you how do you how do you bring that

into the empathy circle context did I

get that right that's right because

ultimately in a courtroom typically

there's a judge which with a gavel that

bang and says the decision worded

hopefully with some empathy according to

the loser in the winner or whatever yes

so in a business environment whether

with forgetting mediation we might be

talking about an issue you will use the

empathy circle as a format to resolve or

improve our abilities to work together

because maybe as a team we stopped

working functioning well

and as you maybe a little bit what

Edwin's had before is if you move into

the organic form of life where we

converse in a natural way it can become

a method of of coming back to so it

almost feels like that might be an

interesting area to formalize moving

from empathy circle organic conversation

back to empathy circle and and how that

process could be more formalized in its

way back into a work environment okay

okay interesting idea so so because the

there was a desire in many of the

situations where the empty circles might

be introduced as as a problem-solving

technique but there was a desire for

some kind of outcome and how one of the

processes that might achieve getting to

that outcome would be to allow the

empathy circle to move into a more

natural dialogue until its needs through

until it goes off the rails or something

like that and then has a there's a

process a formal process to take it back

into the empathy circle again and so you

would have this natural mechanism to go

into dialogue and then back into the

empty set empathy circle I feel heard

that I feel that that could be really

interesting in a work environment and I

would I would want to give it all but I

would agree that that would need at

least two hours because you need to sort

of exercise empathy circle Ness then

move into conversation honest and then

see how it wobbles and then bring back

empathy circle miss in a natural way

such that it

presents how we are in real life because

that's the issue is you move away from

the two hours into the other 22 and it's

and and what we need is that to exist in

the 22 mm-hmm okay a little reluctant to

give up your objection to the two hour

time frame however within with these

added mechanisms of moving into natural

speech and then back into empathy circle

mode you can see that two hours will

probably be sort of a minimum time for

that but and and and and that's

definitely an area in your view that is

worth exploring in a in a formal way

thank you March and I feel hurt okay

you're welcome thank you

okay well I guess I'll go on around the

circle then to a way listening I I you

know there is a natural part of me I

find in the empathy circles and then

other people too I'm sure that

continually wants to break into that

normal dialogue mode and you know I've

been in many situations where a very

structured environment has made that

break into a natural and and sometimes

well but more often in my world not well

it the structure of mediations which

have some similarities to this you know

if you just kind of let it go ragged it

can break apart pretty quick and and you

know you end up with everybody shouting

and then you got to kind of bring the

whole thing back to square one and start

again sometimes it's good so

occasionally you know some people

sometimes people just like to get you

know they got to get the steam out

sometimes you just got a loan go

you know have a big dump and get it all

out and then you wait until all that's

done and then you kind of move in to a

more structured approach to a solution

hmm so it sounds like there's two parts

that one is in the in the practice we've

been doing now you've been feeling like

you're wanting to just start speaking so

it kind of a ten desire to just kind of

go into the whatever's on your mind how

to respond and then you're just noticing

that as well as your then you're looking

at with in mediation how does that have

you seen that work where you know you

have the note the structure and then

sort of no structure by just doing

whatever you're reacting however they

want and sometimes just have to let

people react so they can express all

those pent-up frustrations and then you

can go to the structure so you're just

sort of exploring the relationship of

that structure and so not having that

structure right absolutely I'm just

wondering whether it's you know whether

we should almost give it a whirl you

know give it a try

whether we should so what would that

even look like I you know having been in

empathy circles now I don't even know I

don't even know how that would work

because usually it involves you know

somebody's speaking somebody else

speaking and then somebody else coming

in and I don't even know how it would

how you would break into that and break

out out of them so kind of moving from

the structured process into dialogue and

then back into it like Minter was

talking about as well you're not quite

you're not sure like how that practice

was would work even may be thinking of

suggesting it here and how could we just

go into you know dialogue without you

know the practice process the structure

right right so and you know within that

dialogue mode it would be the sort of

thing where I would or one of us would

ask a question and then somebody would

answer questions so I might ask you a

question within the development of

empathy circles to sort of

true or or what do they say now dot 2 or

something like that

empathy circles I might say well what

are your ideas on that ed what have you

got in mind and then you would you know

say well actually this is what I've got

in mind and oh that and then Minda would

say oh well that's really how about this

question so I guess you get into this

kind of question and answer exploration

around the group there's some maybe

there's some little kind of structural

you may maybe they are in fact other

structures that are as highly

disciplined as this one but are just a

bit different mm-hmm so there could be

you're just saying how you can transfer

transfer from this structure to another

structure and they everything is the

structure I guess in that sense there's

another structure but how do you move

from one structure to the other which

has different you know qualities and

nature to it it's kind of thinking

different rules like how do you shift

between these structures yeah yeah and

then as soon as you as soon as you relax

the rules or not relaxed but shift to a

different set of rules it also creates

license for people to behave in

different ways


oh that rule doesn't apply anymore now I

can do this yeah yeah yeah so when you

shift the rules you can act differently

and behave differently and more and I

must say one of the things I like about

the empty circles is is the rigid

structure I I find and I'm really

surprised that people go along with it

but maybe the people who don't want to

go along with it never show up that's

why you have a problem getting a right

wingers in your left right conversations

you know because this it's maybe it's

too tight for them or something I don't

know so there's a little surprise like

here's this rigid structure and surprise

that people like go along with it you're

just kind of exploring like well maybe

some people just don't want to take part

in that rig destruction they just

wouldn't show up and maybe the right is

medical writers like that you see that's

that's so excellent I was trying to

trick you there I was I was trucking I

was trying to get you to comment back on

what I would say as opposed to just

reflecting it this is a little trick

yours like really let's get see if a

word would respond back and you know

it's just just reflected and there you

go well thank you very much I feel good

okay speak to Mincher then yeah the

whole notion of a I assisted empathy

circle sounds pretty good it's like

there's the structure of the empathy

circle and it could be sort of assisted

with AI right there could be a it's tool

set or software or something that kind

of helps with the with the empathy

circle practice I'm not quite sure what

that would be I might actually have some

ideas but this the idea of it's sort of

a tool set in a sense we had a little

bit assistive as we're recording this

right we have technology that is

recording the empathy circle so it's

sort of like technology assisted empathy

circle that we have here since we're in

different parts of the world on top of

it so we already have a little bit of a

so there's an offer

sorry yes there could there could be an

opportunity for AI to augment at the

empathy circle although you have yes my

ideas but it's still let's say embryonic

as to how that would work but it might

be a layer on top of our technologically

enhanced anyway because we already be

doing video via remote empathy circles

yeah I had talked with someone from

Skype there was an engineer there he

contacted me and he was interested in

empathy and he was gonna start working

on a project on it and then we just had

a discussion about the empathy circle

and he started coming up with all kinds

of ideas he had like all kinds of you

know software that I'm not familiar with

but it has a lot of logic and

and when I told him about feelings and

needs as his part of the empathy circle

process he got really excited because he

saw a feedback loop that could be it if

you have a feedback loop within within a

process you can keep learning because

you're you have something to test

against and then so yeah and also yes if

there were unable to tag for feelings

and needs that could according to the

sub-basement Microsoft guy or Skype guy

helped to create a feedback loop so we

would integrate learning directly into

the process yeah and he had all kinds of

off-the-shelf you know tool sets that

could be brought to bear but then he you

know he got pulled off on to another job

and that kind of got dropped

unfortunately I think that could have

been really powerful I think that you

know like Microsoft with Skype or you

know zoom or Facebook they could be

using this process like for what they're

doing they have all kinds of conflict

you know they're they're defunding

people YouTube as well be monetizing

them kicking them off their platforms it

could be do their willingness to do an

empathy circle could be part of the

practice for conflict resolution so

there's a huge amount of technology that

could be brought into into these

platforms you know using empathic

listening then assisted tools right

artificial intelligence technology tools

to assist these dialogues so there's a

an opportunity even within these video

platforms to consider empathy circles as

a one of the conduits for helping

resolve some of the conflicts that we

have for example D monetizing kicking

people off YouTube because of something

that they have said or shared and

and we could use empathy circles to

resolve those type of conflicts even

within a zoom or a YouTube or Skype yeah

like they could have they said of kicked

off the guy from Infowars

his name right now the you know he was

kicked off of YouTube and what if they

would have said well if you want to stay

on our platform you have to do an

empathy circle with the family members

from Newtown who you're like you know

really attacking or you know criticizing

and saying that well maybe that's just

all made up those shootings so there

could have been something with sort of a

mediation and there's all kinds of

opportunities like that they could have

it the political left is trying to be

fun you know kick off the right and

they're kritis you know they're doing

stuff with YouTube saying oh these are

terrible people kick them off they kick

them off and then left right is all

pissed off and there could have been

something you know there could be this

could be a mediation that they could

sort of support between the sides right

so in the case of the guy from info

world being kicked off for presumably

saying something negative to the people

from Newtown for the shooting yeah maybe

they could have proposed rather than

kicking him off as a sort of unilateral

decision come back and say listen if

you'd like to stay on keep being

monetized this is the price you have to

pay and go do an empathy circle with the

people you slagged off yeah alex jones

for exact knows his names that's right

all right so this about this a feedback

loop that is again the work of marshall


who was a grad student of power rogers

that's why I just see Carl Rogers just

set this you know foundational empathic

listening is this foundational practice

and it's gone in so many if you look at

it's gone so many different directions

have been built on this one kernel of

the practice and Marshall Rosenberg

insight was well there's these feelings

just like Jean gentleman said but behind

feelings like anger you know sadness

there's feelings of that people are

desiring if they're angry they're

desiring respect or so the feeling of

respect or something so it's it's kind

of mapping out the territory of feeling

the world of feelings right it's like

there's how does how do these feelings

relate to each other what's behind

feelings and so that's that aspect so

that that was another piece in terms of

the feedback loop of the the needs that

people have you know the desired

feelings that they have some ways one

throw that in I see you're interested in

looking at the the ways we could create

feedback loops and and how Rogers

approached the therapy listening with

Armstrong was more the learnings you can

have outside of just the listening

element and it was Marshall Rosenberg

and nonviolent communication that was

sort of he developed that practice yeah

Rosenberg nonviolent communication

Armstrong don't worry I got that one

from the busyness in the mind but anyway

the idea of being able to integrate

feedback loops which could technology

could help by the way of course in

introduced into the empathy circles

exactly I feel very heard thank you so I

am excited by the idea of a layer of

artificial oh yeah whom I speak Martin


about the process getting natural on you

so I am interested and excited by the

idea of artificial intelligence being a

layer on empathy circles as some or many

people start talking about AI as

augmenting intelligence

or assisting our intelligence as opposed

to being a autonomous intelligence so

you're excited about the link between AI

and empathy where AI comes in not as an

autonomous force which is what a lot of

people think of when they think of it

but as an augmenting force so it it

helps the process and I think it's worth

mentioning the original ki was a machine

with the name Eliza and in the 1960s

Eliza was essentially a reef formulator

so the original AI machine eliezer in

the 60s was a reformulate er I don't

know what a rimmed Allies I will I will

explain so he Eliza was able to to

reformulate what she heard from the

person of course it was through text and

it turned out that the people in the

office where Eliza was invented wanted

to spend hours with Eliza because

fundamentally they felt more heard by

her than their peers or their friends so

Eliza back in that period would

reformulate the whatever was put in by

text and feed it back out again and the

people who were working with Eliza

actually felt more heard by Eliza than

they did by their peers who have when

they would feedback what they thought

they said so Eliza gave an accurate

reformulation of what the person has

said it wasn't necessarily accurate for

what they appreciated was the endless

time that Eliza was prepared to

do the listening per the issue of time

efficiencies that we have today and the

the infinite memory and the infinite

time if you will of a computer does

represent at the one hand a benefit and

that the other hand a threat to our

humanity if we don't realize that we

should be more empathic as individuals

so the facts and what they appreciated

most was the fact that Eliza didn't have

any time constraints they can sit and

talk to Eliza for as long as they liked

and Eliza wasn't going anywhere

whereas a human in that situation might

be keep looking at their watch and and

want to be out of there so they'd

appreciate at the time that Eliza was

willing to spend with them yes

so I also my final thought that I had

brought to the table before the empathy

circle about empathy circles so meta was

doing it in person and my own experience

to the date has been in the video format

where technology sometimes gets in the

way as we've experienced in this case

yet I have done now three smaller

sessions that are in front of people in

in conferences where I have three people

doing with in with not six minutes but

one or two minutes

empathy moments and and the experience

of those individuals in just a few

minutes inevitably illuminates

lightbulbs in their minds and sparks

tremendous reactions from the

individuals in the room

you've been you know within the

technological world which is what we

now and technology can get in the way

sometimes at the communication that's

happening so in the face-to-face

empathy circles and you've been doing

some of these in conferences with a two

minute or so time schedule and and the

reaction of the people who experience

that and the reaction of the people in

the room is is very dramatic it I'm not

quite sure what the reaction is other

than it's very dramatic

well like learning it's the drama in the

mind that might provoke the change the

the notion of being in public is

critical at this point because it

renders hyper difficult your ability to

stay presence focus on the individual

knowing that you have 60 pairs of eyes

for example looking at you and measuring

every word and whether margin got it

right or wrong and that pressure is a

simulation of the busyness that we

always feel somehow it's not similar

it's sort of like a proxy for the

busyness that we have I see so so within

these contexts where if you are one of

these people talking or reflecting you

are very conscious of the fact that you

have a whole audience they're watching

you at the time and and that audience

and that consciousness rather is a proxy

for the normal thing that you would feel

about trying to get stuff out and say

things it really Hyper's your focus on

to onto that feeling

yes I I've been experimenting and thus

would like you to say that one can gain

kernels of what I'm trying to achieve

which is awareness

our inability to listen awareness of the

interest in wanting to listen more in a

fabricated environment such as having

people do it in front of other people

which by the way we're doing because

this is gonna be retransmitted but you

and I right now we don't feel like we

have a million eyes on us but where are

we to be on television doing this Paul

right I would argue we would deep deep

you know noodle noodling around all


right Wow wow that's I got a like I got

so I got there my lack of ability to to

listen and and exactly what you were

saying I got so involved in in trying to

experience being in that situation that

I kind of lost the thread but what I got

was that the being in front of the large

audience of people well it said well it

certainly heightened the experience and

some in some way it just heightened the

experience of being of saying and and oh

I know what it was it was the ability to

become conscious of your own inability

to listen and to take you know take some

kind of action towards improving that

ability to listen it was that perfect

yeah so my gig is you know finding ways

for the reminisce we say in French carry

on effect and and when you spark these

kinds of ha

moments this is a lightbulb moment the

the learning moment where people observe

the inability observe the errors of

translation and say hmm maybe I should

remember this in the future

mm-hmm so I'm thinking more the

listeners but perhaps also the

practitioners in those situations

it's like having a bright light Shawn on

to their ability or lack thereof to hear

what somebody else is saying and to

reflect it back to them and and and I

guess to think that that's an important

thing to do I am feeling heard Martin

okay okay good

okay well I guess we're kind of running

out there aren't we how many more we got

here we had 20 minutes finance okay well

I guess I'll keep going around the

circle then and okay I you know I'm I'm

not actually sure that I have a lot to

say which is unusual for me this is it's

quite an exciting conversation and I'd

be certainly interested to see whether

you know whether any of the ideas that

have gone around here and how they would

incorporate it into the empty circles

I'm I you know I I think the empathy

circle as it is right now as you call it

a stage one

you know first lesson is is valuable

just the way it is but then when you

move into some kind of functional

application which is what mental is talk

about you know

we're where people are looking for some

outcomes which is more kind of my

territory then you know I can see that

perhaps some new technology some new

methods kind of that you can move to it

might be might be quite useful okay so

at first you didn't weren't sure what to

talk about and kind of joking that

that's something for you not to know to

talk about but then you had some ideas

that's really about sort of the that you

feel like you and mentor want some sort

of an outcomes from the empathy circle

and how do you move from sort of this

stage one to stage two and just sort of

wondering if anything will come come out

of it but then also valuing just the

basic practice itself - yes and I think

you know going around the basic practice

I it's almost like you want to do a

debrief I mean there was sometimes there

is a little quick debrief and at the end

of the empathy circles you have that

last round you know what did you get out

of this kind of around and and usually

it's a field as in my experience it's

kind of like a feel-good kind of put it

to bed kind of round but I guess I

haven't used an empathy circle in anger

if you like you know I I haven't I

haven't taken it to the frontlines with

me other than there are elements there

are elements of the obviously the the

the close listening and the reflective

listening that we use in in mediation

but I haven't sort of sat to myself in a

mediation said you know what this

mediation is off the rails what we need

to do is an empathy circle and here's

how it works and let's go around and do

this I haven't actually done that in an

actual situation but it might be

interesting to try and and just see how

it works where you just kind of shift

people I mean we often do the reflective

thing listen what I want you to do is

imagine being in the other person's

shoes I mean we actually do

you know and I want you to tell me what

you think that they think of this

situation what do you think they might

think of the fact that you did that

yeah and so we'll often do that kind of

technique which is a little bit you know

this kind of forcing them into an

empathic position hmm so you're

wondering like how it would work like an

empathy is using an empathy circle in a

real conflict with anger and you do sort

of role taking you have you have the

participants sort of like what would the

other person what would you be feeling

if you were the other person do you do

that sort of role thinking but not sort

of the empathic listening it sounds like

yeah yeah I I haven't watched the whole

video of the tent at the Berkeley of the

Berkeley can fracas there that you did

where you took the tent out and you had

that leader of the right came in and and

and I watched some little bits of it but

I haven't watched the whole thing so is

that something you would recommend that

I watch the whole thing because there's

some real nuggets in there yes you're

just wondering like would that be a good

example the right and the left talking

at Berkeley it I'd be a good example of

how to mediate a really contentious

circle using yeah using empathise yeah


no I was I was looking for an answer

okay so yeah you really would like an

answer and you feel hurt okay then I'll

speak back to you okay okay so the

that's the the circle that you're

talking about it only went for about

10-15 minutes and it was interrupted by

an Tifa or the group do you they're a


yelling and we couldn't even hear each

other talk so it's not the best example

of a successful empathy circle yet yeah

it because it was interrupted and then

we stood up and then those words like

surrounded by media we ended up doing

all these media you know discussions

which took us off from the empty circle

it is an example of what in an intense

situation something it didn't didn't

work totally well because it was so much

screaming and yelling around the

outskirts of people trying to shut it

down right oh that's right you're

talking to me yeah right I was listening

to the answer to all my questions that

you don't okay so you are answering the

fact that that that example of the

trying to introduce the empathy stoical

into a very tense situation only lasted

about 10 minutes in fact so I've

actually probably did see most of it but

it descended into screaming and shouting

and by the participants but by outside

people trying to shut it down they did

not delay the political left did not

want the dialogue to take place so they

were screaming yelling we were talking

to each other for me to just across with

a megaphone to hear each other we are

sharing a megaphone to speak to someone

like three or four feet away because

there was so much outside screaming and

potential violence coming in so that

wasn't the most effective you know an

environment for holding you know empathy

circle right so the participant

participants themselves were were ready

to go along with the new circle

technology but the outside the political

left in this case didn't want this to

happen for whatever reason was

attempting to interrupt shouting at very

short distances with with a megaphone to

Indiana and the participants were doing

great it was like in

easy it was actually quite easy because

the participants were doing a really

good job the next day we set up at UC

Berkeley again with our empathy tent and

the leader on the right he brought a

friend of his and there's a recording of

this and this friend of his is very well

known in the right wing because he was

one of the first to fight back against

the antifa he's huge he was a fighter

until he became a real hero on the right

for you know standing up and fighting

back and then the leader of the group

brought him to the tent and said this

guy needs an empathy circle so he sat

down there's no nt4 there's no left we

just grabbed somebody that was on the

left we sat down and did a half an hour

empathy circle it worked great I mean it

was yeah it worked really well

he's always nobody trying to shut it

down it was just it was easy to mediate

right right so the next so the next day

the one of the right wing guys brought a

lead at one of the right wings a leader

the leader of the right wing group

brought one of the members right a big

guy a fighter I said this guy needs an

empathy circle and you sat down with him

and and had a successful firing yeah and

the this guy his name was Kyle and

there's an article written about it and

as a video a bit too so I can say the

link he started he started playing a

little bit like he wasn't really

reflecting and you know he was kind of

making fun I said no you just reflect

back what you hear the other person said

he says oh this is serious so he took it

serious I mean he really tried to you

know take it seriously so in that

context I find you know you're talking

about the right if the right takes part

they usually really like the practice

they like the structure they like the

effectiveness of it is just getting him

into the circle but once they get into

it they tend to be very supportive of it

okay so the right the guy who came

you know at first it was a little bit

playful and just kind of like going

along with the whole thing but you said

no no you just reflect what you hear and

and so he said oh okay this is serious

and and he did that and then you go into

it and your experience has been that the

people on the right typically once they

get into the process and understand how

it goes actually do very well with it

and like him well as a ton of other

stuff I could say but I just see our

time we only got 11 minutes left so

maybe we'll stop here and we can just

kind of open it up for sort of a 11

minutes debrief freestyle you know

discussion anybody I felt that that

little exchange that we had there was a

couple of moments there where we kind of

like were on the edge of of just

dialogue as opposed black thing back and

forth mostly because I wasn't wasn't

really doing it very well but I felt

hurt yeah okay yeah I'm really enjoying

this I think we need three or four hours

is our family four or five hours in our

family and fifty circles yeah you're

just kind of getting warmed up but just

after a couple hours well that's amazing

these two hours have gone by just like

that I mean I did you know sometimes I

think two hours yeah that's a big

commitment you know two hours of time

but that went very pretty quick and yeah

I know it was a pleasure I think the

objective was specific and that allowed

for or you know we kept on track for the

most part you know with baubles and and

maybe in you necessary wobbles to move

around and explore different areas and

again it's interesting as you say Martin

how quickly time can fly I'm totally in

favor of empathy circles as a

preliminary base as a way to explore and

and democratize I'm more in Phase two

land and so I that's that's where I come

from this where I think about how to

embed it in to business where you know

50 minute meetings already sometimes too

long and there are just too many

meetings as it is and and while if we

spend more time thinking about strategy

and being nice to each other there or

these listening to another one could

speed things along for sure to get it in

the door you can't go in with a to our

regular empathy circle so need to

structure it differently as far as

putting it into business concerned yet I

think that you mentioned the half hour

version Edwin and or maybe it was you

Martin but we we can do shorter versions

that could have interesting maybe

spectacular effects maybe not quite as

long-lasting just like meditation takes

time to instill you're not gonna learn

to be a guru of meditation by one 10


you know guided session so I thought I

was right sorry yeah there's some years

ago I did a course called corporate

circles it's Maureen Fitzgerald she

wrote a book called corporate circles

and one of the lines that always stuck

with me was if you're arranging a

corporate meeting get there half an hour

early and hide the table and so

everybody is sitting around in chairs

with no table in the middle completely

changes the whole dynamic of the way

that people relate in that situation


let's go ahead we care

the chairs that - you could although

being Westerners we tend to sit in

chairs it's really hard to in

cross-legged on the floor you know if

you have them just standing up

definitely that's that's interesting I

hadn't I hadn't thought of going that


normally I do i do do corporate circles

and i do you know circles and many large

group conflict situations and it's

normally a little bit of the kind of the

Talking Stick and and the celebratory

object of some sort in the center of the

circle and everybody sitting on chairs

and round and it is a very powerful

technique sure you know we could use

that at Occupy Wall Street in the

empathy tent that and it was I just

found that people really wanted to speak

more please get a big group here is

limited in terms of you know how much

time you have to speak so the idea is to

break it up into really small groups so

it could be a lot more active you know

it can be a lot more active so that was

there's another one called dynamic

facilitation for large talkative groups

which developed by a guy over here in

Port Townsend in Washington State

Jim rough and and that's when you you

you set up four boards with recorders on

them and they each have a different

topic and thing they're recording and

when you go into the room there's always

somebody ready to burst you know they

just one other that it out so you go to

them first and so what you do is you

follow the energy in the room and as

that person talks you record everything

they say on these four boards and you

keep asking them how we got it

have we got everything got all your

points here and eventually they'll look

and they'll say yeah yeah I think you

got it off

you suck them dry and then they sit down

and shut up and you go to the next one

and you work your way down through the

energy levels until you get to the last

guys and then you say John you didn't

say much today why don't you got to say

you know and you pull them in and say I

know Rosa she's one of the he's doing

that that's right I forgot about Rosa

yeah so she's actually she and I have

worked a lot with the empathy circles

so and and she is now using empathy

circles as a gateway practice into

dynamic facilitation because it's that

initial phase where people are just like

dying to be heard yes and so by teaching

everyone to do an empathy circle they're

sort of Dino purging all that energy to

begin with and they're also learning the

empathic listening practice because in

the dynamic facilitation she said she's

actually called an empathic inquiry as

well is that is that the facilitator is

doing the reflection like it is an

empathic listening but the facilitator

reflects back what the speaker is saying

make sure the speaker feels heard and

then they put it into those categories

so start giving form you know different

buckets basically if you're using the

sign and they start organizing the

material you just keep going they she

does like you know two-day workshops you

know on this but now she's starting with

empathy circles as uh as a first step

because it kind of teaches everyone sort

of practices that is another aspect in

terms of artificial intelligence or you

know augmenting tools is to start

capturing what has been generated and

giving it form like one of the problems

were other solutions what is the data

and so forth so it yeah would totally

fit it's again the Gateway but again

this empathic listening is the gateway

to that whole practice so I close with

one final thought which is a problem a

friend someone who read my book says I

really love your book and it's really

great but I said well why didn't you

have you ever have you ever done an

empathic circle empathy circle and he

said no I don't know what it is and and

and my thought was well how do I get him

to know about it without him doing it if

you will with us to Shepherd him in and

it just struck me the problem I'm

voicing is

it requires a shepherd somehow to bring

them in like I would say a first trip on

LSD and once you're in your I got it

I know what it is I can do it but as far

as propagate acing it would be lovely if

I could just write out on my Twitter

feed hey guys do an amputee circle on

our problem but that won't fly you kind

of need to have someone rushing them in

and then they can fly by themselves

yeah what's great though this is part of

it of creating that introductory those

little baby steps that's I've been

working at then this circle is sort of

helping to build those baby steps with

trainings and make it really easy for

people to do that first step so thanks

for that

that's definitely what I'd like to

create today is there an Eliza today

where for instance I can tell a story to

my computer and then I can sit back and

my computer reflects my story back to me

and me formulated well the I would

suggest trying to ones meet suku which

is a they're both bots MIT s UK you

and the second is whoa bot wo e bo T and

they're both interesting experiments or

opportunities to to converse so as

conversational AI and they are more or

less I mean they're more sophisticated

than Eliza for sure Mitsu Kuh

I'm actually gonna have my podcast soon

the guy who created that Steve Wars

ouack he gave the bot as some agency on

top of that and it's won many years in a

row the touring Alan Turing test or a

reward so it's it's quite phenomenal and

we'll bot is interesting because it has

a sense of humor anyway try them out

okay okay well we'll close then thank

you very much very grateful for your

participation I learn

a lot and now look forward to connecting

in the future keeping the ball rolling

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