Awakening the Spirit of Creative Collaboration

Resources on Empathy Circles

Why Empathy Circles? Empathy Circles are an enjoyable way to connect with others, while developing basic habits that are essential for conflict transformation. We are creating a new culture of communication, where divergent perspectives can contribute to new creative insights.

Why Empathy Circles for Activists? This one-page document was originally created for a workshop hosted by the Four Freedoms Coalition.

"How to" for Empathy Circles: This is an updated version of Edwin Rutsch's original one-page guide for participating in an Empathy Circle.

Origins of Empathy Circles: This simple yet powerful format that has been pioneered by Edwin Rutsch, building on the work of Carl Rogers. It's a key part of Edwin's larger project of promoting a Culture of Empathy.

In March and April of 2017, Edwin and I facilitated an online design sprint, with empathy practitioners and researchers from around the world, to develop additional Empathy Circle materials. The updated version of "How to" for Empathy Circles" is  one product of that effort, as is this "step-by-step guide" for hosts. Other resources will be posted here also, as time permits.

If you do experiment with any of these resources, and have any feedback to offer about them, we'd love to hear it!

In the meantime, here's a link to a Google Doc where we share what we've been learning from the local community Empathy Circles that we hosted in the last quarter of 2017. We've enjoyed doing this work a great deal, and are continuing to offer circles in our local communities in 2018. 

In addition to our community-building work and work with local activists, we also weave Empathy Circles into our work with organizations. If you are seeking to support effective communication in your organization, Empathy Circles is a simple and powerful way for people to hone their empathy and deep listening skills. 

More resources:

For several years, Lidewij Niezink collaborated with Edwin Rutsch, the creator of Empathy Circles. They then wrote a book expanding on the many dimensions of empathy. For those interested in a more elaborate approach than the "bare-bones" version described above, this beautifully-illustrated book on Empathy Circles is freely available online.

Here is the reference: 

Niezink, L.W. & Rutsch, E. (2016). Empathy Circles: a Blended Empathy Practice. France: Lidewij Niezink.

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