Articles about Empathy Circles
"During one of the Stoa sessions, I came across the work of Edwin Rutsch. Edwin has a bit of an unconventional life. His bio suggests that he had done a little bit of this and a lot of that and all of that somehow fell into place for him with his leadership of The Center For Building a Culture of Empathy.
It got me curious and I signed up to do a few sessions using their Empathy Circle methodology. Based on the work of Carl Rogers, empathy circles use a structured conversation technique to bridge social, personal, and political divides. You can talk about the most contentious topics or whatever is alive for you and you will be fully heard and the gift that it is, it gives you an opportunity to offer others the same listening ear. Needless to say, it was a nourishing experience and I loved how simple yet magical the conversations were."
by Anita Nowak, PhD
November 24, 2020
"This week, I will complete training to become a facilitator of Empathy Circles and I wonder how things might have gone differently with my ex-boyfriend if I had been equipped to have an empathic dialogue with him. I’m quite certain my position would not have changed, but I probably would have heard his opinion with a different set of ears and would not have demonized him in the process.
In an increasingly polarized world – one in which we’re fed a daily diet of views that match and reinforce our own – we need ways to build bridges of understanding. I’m not suggesting anyone tolerate egregious ideas or behaviour, but I do believe there’s value in listening to alternative perspectives without letting triggers get the best of us – as legitimate as the feelings engendered by those triggers may be."
"In the last few years, I’ve been exploring the use of Empathy Circles with some of my organizational clients, with facilitator learning groups, and in communication workshops. I’ve been finding that it is a great introduction and warm-up for Dynamic Facilitation, one of my core practices, as it offers everyone in the room the opportunity to engage in offering listening reflections to one another.
At the same time, I’m totally excited to see that Edwin Rutsch, the creator of Empathy Circles, has been bringing his work into the arena healing political divides. My experience is that this simple-yet-powerful form is actually quite revolutionary, in the best sense of the word, and so I want to delve a bit into what I see as the underlying dynamics. But first, a brief description, followed by a distinction and clarification…"
Imagine a meeting in which you always feel heard and able to listen fully. No need to fight for airtime or defend yourself against attack. Maybe you already know (and like) the others. Maybe you don’t. Maybe the topic is controversial (e.g., family conflict, pro-choice vs pro-life, Democrats vs Republicans, God vs the Devil). Regardless, you share, you learn, and your mind explodes with new ideas. Co-creation happens naturally.
That’s what it’s like in an Empathy Circle. It feels great. I loved hanging out with Culture of Empathy founder Edwin Rutsch and fellow empathy authors/activists Minter Dial and Anita Nowak. We took on the question, “How do we build a more empathic culture?” Check out the video and see for yourself how it works. I wonder…what would you like to tackle with an Empathy Circle?
By Indra Adnan, Co-initiator AUK
23 June 2019
"I took part in an Empathy Cafe last night that was entirely run through listening.
Here is how it goes: In a group of 4-6, one person speaks for an agreed time (typically three minutes), either on an agreed theme or on whatever subject they choose. That same person chooses someone else in the group to reflect back what s/he has just said.
If that person has reflected back accurately what was said, that person will say s/he has felt ‘heard’. The reflector then takes their turn to speak, choosing another person to actively listen."
MAY 3, 2019
I recently discovered a new tool to disseminate empathy that’s called the Empathy Circle. On the heels of newest book, Heartificial Empathy, I was invited to participate in two such Empathy Circles,led by Edwin Rutsch, Director of the Culture of Empathy, who co-developed the concept with Lidewij Niezink. The idea of an Empathy Circle is to practice intense listening and to flex your empathic muscle using a structured dialogue process.
By Lee-Anne Gray Psy.D
"Edwin believes empathy is needed as a form of “ongoing support for flourishing through life.” He hopes to one day see every family having empathy circles to cultivate more ease and frequency of open and honest communication. In a recent discussion, Edwin mentioned that he’d like to see schools, prisons, law enforcement, and communities using empathy circles.
To achieve these honorable goals, Edwin is the director of Center for Building a Culture of Empathy, a global network of over 20,000 people, where he interviews others promoting empathy, archives the videos, and offers human centered design workshops on cultivating meaningful approaches to spreading a culture of empathy. The center is a portal for resources and information about the values of empathy and compassion. Most critically, Edwin facilitates empathy circles as frequently as he can, which is in my opinion, where the crux of his work lies. Edwin practices empathy with others, in an effort to promote more of it."
Sep 29, 2017
"My left-leaning friends may banish me to the far reaches of the earth for this... That said-- I think there is something to be learned from sitting down with people you disagree with and speaking to them in a civil manner. Obviously, in recent months, tensions at UC Berkeley have lead to anger, hostility, violence and riots.
This passed week, former Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulis scheduled a “Free Speech Week,” evidently intent on inflaming tensions once again. In response, David Gottfried & Edwin Rutsch have been putting up an "Empathy Tent.” Their hope for the tent is that it would be a place for dialogue between left and right leaning activists"
The Empathy Circle work is used to mediate between the political left and right.
"Empathetic listening is a technique for listening actively so as to improve mutual trust and understanding, often used to create an environment for collaborative problem-solving and fruitful discussion.
Problems and Purpose
Empathetic listening, also known as empathic, active, or reflective listening, refers to “a way of listening and responding to another person that improves mutual understanding and trust." The technique can be essential to “the success of a negotiation or mediation,” particularly discussions are highly emotional or prone to deadlock in deliberations. In order to appropriately respond to a speaker during discussions, individuals must first accurately interpret their message, which this tool enables.
The empathetic listening technique “enables the disputants to release their emotions, reduces tensions, encourages the surfacing of information, and creates a safe environment that is conducive to collaborative problem-solving.”"