Extinction Rebellion Empathy Cafes

Participant Testimonials of Taking Part

in an Empathy Circle.

I am Jane and once participated in an empathy circle. Today I would like to express my appreciation to you for creating this great methodology of empathy circle. I practiced this with my club member of learning facilitation, all participants were really impressed with this. Especially in this pandemic, we can not meet in person so we conducted our regular meeting online. It was the best practice that we have done untill now online.

What I Like about Empathy Circles André Clements

I also feel that I need some time to process or contemplate this as it be is my first experience of an Empathy Circle. I am convinced, like I was before coming in, that it would probably have a lot of value. I'm convinced that it does. There are parts of it that don't sit comfortably with my normal preferences and how I like to work with things, which is more open and less structured. That comes partly from having a very creative and very natural background.

So I'm still trying to make sense of all of that. I found the conversations started happening about principles and values and that was very interesting. I've got some points I'll actually take offline.

André Clements

What I Like about Empathy Circles Andrea Zwingel

I really enjoyed our time together and there's a couple of things. I think it's really so counter cultural. I prefer more unstructured ways, but that is maybe because I have practiced this accurate listening. I love it when I see it happening.

We listen through filters, that in itself is so helpful. I really came here, and I hoped that I could watch somebody facilitate, like listening properly to two people who actually have a real conflict. In Germany we've had so much shit throwing on Matter most.

There's so much proof that we don't know how to deal with conflicts. We all know we need this, but there's so many people, I feel, that I would like to invite, but I don't feel they have that sense of needing it, needing this. I think that is my growing edge and I'm so glad to been here.

― Andrea Zwingel

What I Like about Empathy Circles Bill Filler

When somebody reflects back to you, they're not necessarily telling you something different, but it's like having the extra information from two focused eyes. You get a different perspective, a depth perspective, and I think that is important.

I know that people are considering this sort of personal level, with the political level. If you notice that basically the powers of authoritarianism are trying to divide us . What this does, on a very personal level politically, is that it unites us.

― Bill Filler

What I Like about Empathy Circles Bob Brown

I am in awe of Nellie, Martha and Andrea for their wisdom. It was such a privilege to be part of that group and to speak and to listen and to be encouraged by what what's going on and what possibilities there are for improving our planet. Bob Brown

What I Like about Empathy Circles Cheila Rodrigues

My personal opinion, you guys are rock stars to me. What I just experience it was really, really amazing. The whole process of rephrasing what someone is telling us, without judgment, is a whole new process for me, but I was really, really motivated and looking forward to this. I have my mind full of ideals that I want to discuss and share, and that's really good. I feel that my country is so far behind on everything that we are experiencing here. The real talk between people.

I have a lot on my mind at this time, so I I'm digesting the process, but I loved rephrasing.

Cheila Rodrigues

What I Like about Empathy Circles James Green

There was a lot to the short time that we spent together talking that I felt encouraged about. I'm familiar with this process so I am not surprised that I felt encouraged. The paraphrasing, for me, is key and sometimes it can be really difficult to just find a group of people who come to that one agreement. The agreement that the paraphrasing is valuable. We had that agreement, even if it wasn't written down. We all agreed that we're gonna try it and that to me is just the foundation from where a lot of very valuable work can be done. I was happy to have had the chance to participate. James Green

What I Like about Empathy Circles Joe and Nina

It was hard because I had to remember the things that people had said. It really works and it was a good thing for me to do.

― Joe

We all know that we are supposed to repeat back when people people are in distress and they're trying to tell you something. Instead of giving them advice, you just say, yes I'm hearing you. I think this could be widely used in general life. ― Nina

What I Like about Empathy Circles John Roff

I am impressed. I met people from all over the world this morning and had conversation that felt was meaningful, that was valuable. It’s such a simple thing, it's such a simple structure, and I'm encouraged that this can be done. It opens a space. I mean this is good stuff. Thank you for he way that you've held this space. It encourages me. John Roff

What I Like about Empathy Circles Liz Tufte

My experience was that it was really bumpy at first until I got into the flow of it. It's extremely hard work. I've done this two or three times. It's very rewarding to train my brain to feedback with no judgment and I felt supported and encouraged. My what if... is what if politicians use these tools and what if we get coalition work using these tools, working with other cultures. Liz Tufte

What I Like about Empathy Circles Lou Zweier

I love watching people really listen to each other and try to repeat back what they understand the other people are trying to say. It's so heartwarming to watch people do that and it fills me with a lot of hope. I always get a lot of joy participating.

The other thing is I'm just talking about conflict and listening to people talk about the kinds of conflicts they've been experiencing, I was just filled with lots of ideas that I didn't get time to express about how to deal with conflict effectively. Different kind of strategies to use in addition to Empathy Circle practice or as little interventions that facilitators can do as part of Empathy Circle practice, that helps when people are having difficulty hearing each other.

Lou Zweier

What I Like about Empathy Circles Matteo Graldi

I'm really grateful for this kind of setting in the Empathy Cafe. It was great. Matteo Graldi

What I Like about Empathy Circles Marta Neto

It was very special today. I mean I left the method but today was very special. I think we had an amazing group of brains in the room. I wanted more. I've learned that I can't facilitate and take notes at the same time. I can, but it's not worth doing basically. This thing about people thinking they don't need it, I think that's exactly what we need to rethink. That’s because it's got nothing to do with needing it, but to actually want to show up for life.

It's, how do we entice people to actually show up for life, and then if they do that, they'll want to walk towards conflict. A thing that Neli said was about people need supports and they need all else behind, so that they actually can be vulnerable. That they're actually willing to even show up so. And many other ideas. Marta Neto

What I Like about Empathy Circles Neli

I really enjoyed to be part of this Empathy Circle group. This was my first time. I enjoyed that when I was understood easily and I also enjoyed when it was hard. I had to rephrase things and try to come closer to the other person. For me as a speaker it's more stressful, but it's also somehow a greater victory if you come through.

The other thing is that I'm amazed about how perfect words some people found for things which are very unstructured in my own mind and they could rephrase what I said in a way that was inviting for me. I will think further about the things which I had started to develop. Yeah, it's fun and I'm impressed.

― Neli

What I Like about Empathy Circles Sinéad Sheehan

It was nice. I definitely had a lot more to say. I like the idea of Empathy Circles being part of the conflict process. I hope that we can write something that allows that to happen. There's something that slightly concerns me around it potentially being imposed or something. I know we don't do that in XR, but just around an indication and a guideline kind of thing.

There are other ways of facilitating and navigating conflict. I think the Empathy Circle is useful because it's simple and doable for lots of people. It doesn't require tweaking their facilitation skill.

― Sinéad Sheehan

(Nice. Had a lot more to say than I had time. Like the idea of empathy circles being part of the conflict process. It also concerns me that it might be imposed to do this. Want it to be an invitation instead. It’s useful because it’s simple and doable. It does not require particular facilitation skills. )

What I Like about Empathy Circles Al

This was very encouraging. I think it's always helpful to see that other groups across the world are having the same struggles because they're all human struggles. It helps to reframe that, as “okay it's not just my group is completely failing” it's like “oh, no, this is actually very common and normal and it can be worked through, and it has been worked through before”. So this is just awesome, to be able to do the practice with folks and see perspectives from across the world. ― Al

(Al X: Encouraging. Helpful to see that other groups around the world are having the same struggles. It’s not that my group is failing. It’s a human struggle. Awesome to be able to do this practice with folks around the world. )

What I Like about Empathy Circles Alexandra

I think it was great to have this experience. It was my first time. We also experienced major conflicts here in our country and it's nice to hear that it's not just here, but it's a human thing. It was great to talk with Lou, because I think he's had a lot of experience and it's really encouraging to see that with some more training we can achieve a better way to communicate with each other. It gave us some hope that in the future we can overcome these very hard conflicts.

― Alexandra

(Alexandra: Was great to have the experience. First time. We experience major conflicts in our country, like Al X said. Great talking with Lou, who has had a lot of experience. With more training we can achieve a better way to communicate with each other. Hopeful that we can overcome difficult conflicts in the future. (Isabella had to leave but had the same idea.))

For those of you who are eager to help others and looking for ways to do so, if you are looking to have more purpose in your days and/or for those of you who would like to have more connection.

Marta introduced me a few months ago to the idea of Empathy Circles, thanks Marta.


This model was created by Edwin Rutsch in the U.S. and he and others are currently developing structures to support front line staff in N.Y. hospitals with these circles. Edwin has created The Centre for Building a Culture of Empathy. Currently he is working quite a lot with XR communities however this model is not limited to XR; Marta and I share a vision to have these events happening in all sorts of communities and with online capacity how wonderful for people to have an option of logging in to the next available Empathy Circle to feel connection.

For those of you who are good listeners with time on your hands or those of you who want to develop your listening/online support group facilitation skills I HIGHLY recommend you have a think about broadening your skill set so that you can host Empathy Circles too.

It's a really simple yet effective structure and training is now taking place online for those who want to facilitate these circles.

...these zoom based events give people a real feeling of connection, they give people space to talk about how they are feeling, they give space for people to feel heard.

Having sat in on a few of them, these zoom based events give people a real feeling of connection, they give people space to talk about how they are feeling, they give space for people to feel heard. Often a overall theme or topic is chosen for the event but you can speak about whatever comes up for you at that time. For example - the theme may be Isolation but you may want to use your talking time to vent about boundary issues you are experiencing.

These circles give people an opportunity to be heard with no judgement, no solutions, just a listening ear.

Marta and Karolina are very kindly running training on how to facilitate these events. First step is to sit in on an Empathy Circle yourself to see how they work and see how beneficial they are for people. Here are some events happening in the next few days (see comments), there are many happening each week. Once you've decided if it's for you or not then I suggest you get in contact with Marta and a new round of training will be happening in the next few weeks.

A great way to feel a sense of purpose and be supportive of others, great to simply attend too if you'd like to speak with people outside your family/friends circles about how you're doing.

Gráinne Carr