Session 1

Notes by Priyanka

Link to the MentiMeter – was given at the beginning of the meeting and in email to let people know that they should list their top 3 values on MentiMeter.

- Letting people know that we are recording this for educational purposes.

- Only the breakout room where Edwin is there is being recorded.

Part 1


Part 2 –What we are doing in this course (Purpose of the Course)


Part 3 - Arc of the course

5 sessions together- Each session we will practise empathy circles and talk about what’s important to you and also have the experience of facilitation.

Part 4 What is empathy?

Edwin’s vision of the culture of empathy

What is empathy – sensing into someone’s experience, you are not living in the space, but you are getting this resonance that this helps you to understand what the person is going through. Another part of empathy is mutuality, we sense into the other person, but we also bring our own vulnerability into the space, which you share in this mutual space. It’s got a sense of equality in it. Openness is also an important value for us – this sense of welcoming experience, even our challenging feelings and thoughts all these can be experienced in an empathic space. Also, a sense of care for self and others. 

Also respecting limits and boundaries if we come from different cultures. Inclusion is also important because we live in a diverse world where we have our own history of family, gender, race etc. We try to be sensitive to what spaces this person is coming from – like life experience age, disability etc. We consider in the circle how we can best support everybody to be there as fully as possible.

Place link in the chat to the Culture of Empathy Core Values List http://j.mp/CoEValues and invite people to look into it in the next session.


Part 5– Value Alignment with core values

Display word cloud and show how people’s values relate to empathy …and why its important to relate to people.

Give the story about how everyone’s values /needs are important and how everyone needs to be on the same page to create more empathy together … we want to see in the breakout room how your values relate to empathy.


Part 6- How the empathy circle works

There are 4 roles – facilitator, active listener, speaker, listener.

Facilitator will be the timekeeper, keep it running smoothly.

The person who is going to be the speaker chooses the listener, you pause every now and then so that the listener can reflect back what you said, it’s the essence of contact, mood and atmosphere. if the listener got it wrong you can correct them and help them what you really meant. It’s called paraphrasing. In this way we are signalling that we are listening to them deeply and letting them know that we are with them. And we can see that the person is not agreeing, disagreeing or judging or adding their own. We go around several times and that becomes quite a profound experience.


Part 7 – Post the Topics for the empathy circle in the chat

Part 8- Hand it over to Edwin to open the break out rooms – DO the empathy circles (70 minutes)

Part 9 – Call on people to reflect on what their experience was in the circle and their take away)

How did one of your values relate to empathy and Culture of Empathy?

Part 10 - Harvesting and then summary of what we can do to take it out in the world.

1. We encourage you to partner with someone in this group, and you will be randomly matched with someone in the group to just have an empathy buddy session, and you share the empathy session within you. Deepen your listening skills to also know what is going in with you. Also, information about who empathy buddies is and you can get information about that. Develop an empathy buddy network, it can be really sweet to have someone call and support you in that process, when you are a facilitator. Next week you will be required to describe how an empathy circle works. Have a little think about how you would like to describe it to make it your own.

2. Type in the chat a single word that you are feeling right now.

3. Really noticing just how people are feeling as a result of being here.

Part 11 – Post link of the survey and let people know about it and goodbye photo

Session 1: Post one of your feelings that you have now at end of Session


5 responses

What was most valuable about this Session for you?

sincere authentic communication

Hearing the different introduction to Empathy Circle, hearing others' empathy statements & noticing what would work for me in my situations.

experiencing yet another facilitation style

The session felt very supportive.

Actually, it was mind blowing talking and listening. Our breakout group seemed to get deeper and deeper, and we really could break into what we needed to say and the overall breakout room was filled with fascinating ideas brought forth by a multitude of people.

What would you change about the Session to make it better for you?


Can we include a debrief for the small group, along the lines of "What helped you to empathize/ listen better? When did you feel the most heard over the past hour and why?"

Nothing at the moment

nothing today

I guess I need to buy a blue took ear buds and microphone. I can't believe I spent that much on a new phone, and they didn't include ear buds and entirely changed the connection outlet.

What questions are in your mind right now about facilitating Empathy Circles?

hoping to remain calm and present the process clearly

How to I introduce Empathy Circles to my family and friends in a concise, simply way but still make sure everyone understand the structure spirit of empathy? What are the pros and cons of facilitating an online vs an offline circle?

I have three questions however I would wait for some more sessions to happen- they may get answered themselves

no questions right now

I got the commitment of my brother and sister to participate and are there any groups for just women' as in out the region of Africa?

What is a Empathy Circle Facilitation Challenge you have experienced, have seen or imagine having? Describe it and any questions, concerns, comments, ideas, etc. about it? (we will try to address those in the Session.)

noticing any "mind wandering" and then coming back to the present moment quickly

People have nothing to say and this culture of "speak what's alive in you" feels scary and unfamiliar.

I haven't experienced any challenge yet.

When someone says something that is potentially triggering (e.g. gender stereotypes, rape, etc.), I imagine trying to say something to address it, to neutralize the space when it's my turn to speak. Would love to hear about how to handle these kind of situations.

It's hard for me to formulate enough words to be a facilitator.

Write a question you think we could add to this post-session survey?

Is empathic communication important for peace of mind?

How about "Is there anything you'd like to offer our cohort in the upcoming days?"

Ques- "Would you recommend this training to friends and anyone you think would benefit from it?"

Is there enough material to study from on types of forms of empathy.

Session 2

Session 3 

Session 4

Feedback By Rasha

Often we are able to bring in empathy during a normal/ good day. However during intense emotions of anger, hurt, fear we are not able to.

If this situation is specific to the empathy circle practice, then the trick is to stick to the process. Often the opportunity that an empathy circle provides for you to speak, will bring the intensity of your emotions down. And on top of that, when somebody listens and reflects it back, that act of acknowledgement will further calm you. The key is to keep sticking to the process.

If this is in the context of everyday life, then I would say practicing self-empathy through meditation and the likes can help cope with intense emotions in the longer run.

What can we do when the listener reflects in way too many words compared to the original message?

That’s okay if the speaker feels completely heard. The ultimate objective is for the speaker to feel fully and satisfactorily heard, right? As long as that objective is met, we are good. But if the speaker feels that his/her message has not been reflected back to him properly due to the use of extra words, then the speaker can communicate that to the listener when he speaks next and call out any extra information that the listener reflected back which the speaker did not intend to convey.

How do I work with complex foreign languages?

If a speaker mixes some foreign language while speaking, then as the listener, you reflect back what you understood. The speaker will then clarify what you missed. But if he/she doesn’t clarify and this pattern bothers you, feel free to bring it up.

If the listener reflects back with a mix of a foreign language and you could not understand, then as the speaker you can bring that up when you speak next.

What does one do when the group is unruly?

If a group is unruly, it means that the group is not sticking to the process. You can try to gently bring the group back to the process, and if that doesn’t work, then you may need to halt the process and remind the group that sticking to the process is essential for it to go forward. You may ask the participants whether anything is bothering them, if they have any questions, and then clear/clarify the issues and questions they bring up before moving on.

How does one empathise with participants who transgress and disrupt the process? 

A participant may be disrupting the process because they are confused or are unclear about what needs to be done. Ask him/her if they have any questions or whether something is bothering them. Clear their questions and then you can gently bring them back to the process. 

How does one deal with group silence?

During the process of a circle, If a speaker is struggling to speak and needs a few minutes of silence, that is totally okay. The listener can just reflect the silence back. But, if the silence is outside of the process and if the whole group seems to be uncomfortable for some reason (eg: due to disruptions by one or two participants) and suddenly nobody has anything to say, then you can remind the participants that they can always talk about whatever feels alive for them and then nudge the process forward. The facilitator can also choose to be the speaker and bring in something interesting that can liven up the circle.


Meeting Script by Priyanka

Step 1: Welcome everyone. You already have done a lot and you have a lot of stuff rising in and if you would like to bring one thing from your last session or any learning from your empathy circle, or your experience you had in the empathy circle. I would name people just to keep it moving along. Calling on one person and asking them to speak.

Check-in from participants:

“Expectations from people are difficult to meet, for example, expecting NVC empathy. Empathy circles work.”

“It’s particularly challenging but that’s where the learning is “

“Buddy calls are finding it more difficult to speak, and if this is an exercise or a pure buddy call, difficult determining how much to share “

“Everyone brings something new to the circle and being part of humanity and being part of everyone’s journey and it’s changing the way I look at people, it’s a particularly good place to be a human being and I am really glad to be part of this circle “

“I am enjoying the empathy buddy call, and I do have questions, which I ask Edwin and they get answered “

“We connected on the challenges with my buddy call and there is so much to learn, and my buddy shared a different view, and I am curious at this moment and I would like to explore a bit more “

“I had a circle last week and I would like to learn more about how to run a circle “

“This week I had a buddy call that was really connecting and sharing different perspectives and it was a good reminder about starting and moving with empathy circles, I feel a little bit more comfortable and allowing myself to be kinder so that I am not trying to prepare too much and be too perfect and just letting it happen “

“Coming into this work is so rewarding to relax my own nervous system and I have really allowed this work to settle me “

“I was busy last week so the buddy call gave me some anxiety, but the actual call was such a calming space and trust the process and not put too much pressure on me or my body “

“It’s very soothing and calming the turn taking and listening and knowing that I will be listened too, and the facilitators all support each other “

“I was in the same call and loved the feeling of support and I knew I could trust everybody to step in and have that sense of support in the team”

“I am really getting into the training and how we can break it down and enable everyone to do the best”

Step 2 : Feedback


Step 3 – Practicing in Breakout Rooms -

Step 4 : Empathy , mutuality , openness and care are a few values that we hope to be pushing through this process of empathy circles.

As part of the debrief, each person can have one minute and focus on how you can use empathy circles to bring these values to your family and circles. Post this in the comment section:

How do you see the Empathy Circle practice beginning to build a culture of empathy in your world and in the larger world?

“I really like the use of the word culture, and sit with the feelings rather than intervening and jumping in to speak “

“I am really excited about this building a culture of empathy and this experience of coming here to the training and the circles I participated in, it’s so nice to jump into an already built-in culture and being willing to be part of this and bring this out to your own community makes me feel safer in the world and I feel really grateful. I feel so tired and with the challenges I feel it was funny but not funny. Just one of those uncomfortable things that I just had to go to the humour place “

“I learned so much and was still able to have so much fun. Its exciting to see this energy in our group and knowing that we can bring this energy out in our group. Whenever someone is willing to listen to me empathically, it’s so empowering and it makes me want to spread it “

“I wish we could have started with this; it was really fun today. Professionally it helps me to be a much better active listener and it gives me a sense of community on buddy calls and I really thrive on. “

“I feel so much gratitude for the breakout rooms and all of our hearts become one heart, it’s so amazing. The facilitator gave us wonderful challenges, we get to see the personal level of empathy and compassion in each of us and it’s just a beautiful experience “

“Big thanks to the breakout room team members, it was a wonderful experience. The empathy circle practise is helping me immensely “

“I found the session helpful to deal with distractions that distil the focus, should I hold the process or person and how to hold both together. Colleagues that I work with to easy and hopefully taking to family but its difficult due to their judgement”.

“It was so difficult in the challenge phase; I learned a lot in the entire experience. Building a culture of empathy, I see to it that the other person feels heard. I try to see that I understand the other person.”

“Today it was very challenging and very kind at the same time, every time I discover something in myself, today I find myself to challenge myself by trying to understand the person in front of me”.

“If I can learn this process then I can see anyone doing it and the process here are so diverse and its so exciting to see everyone be together”.

“I saw how other members of the group getting nervous when they have to correct someone, and then we remind them that its not about them, but that we just gently remind the person to come back to the process . I have done this with a friend and my husband, it really helps with the relationships. I would like to bring it to families because they struggle to really listen to their children.

“I really learnt a lot from my group and reminds me that we are really sharing skills together “

Step 5 : Post a feeling in the chat !  and jazz hands good bye!


Feelings mentioned by participants:

Session 5