The Power of Empathy

Conversation Guide

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Empathy goes beyond concern or sympathy. Empathy is stepping into the shoes of another with the intention to better understand and feel what they are experiencing.  It is expressed in our choice to be fully present with someone and listen beyond their words for their feelings and unmet needs. Knowing that at least one other person “gets what I’m going through” is the gift of empathy. The power of empathy can bridge our “us vs. them” perceptions and lead to new solutions, improved relationships, better strategies for social change, reduction in loneliness, and realization of our shared human needs and oneness. This conversation is about sharing experiences giving, receiving, and observing empathy.

Let's Get Started!

This Living Room Conversation flows through three rounds of questions and a closing. Some rounds ask you to answer each question. Others feature multiple questions that serve as conversation starters — you need only respond to the one or two you find most interesting.

Before You Begin...

Please go over the Conversation Agreements with your participants.

Introductions: Getting Started/
Why Are We Here?

What interested you or drew you to this conversation?

Round 1: Core Values

Answer one or more of the following:
  • What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
  • What would your best friend say about who you are and what inspires you?
  • What are your hopes and concerns for your community and/or the country?
 

Round 2:

The Power of Empathy

Remember that the goal for this Living Room Conversation is for all of us to listen and learn about where we have different opinions and where we have shared interests, intentions and goals. Answer ​one or more of the following questions:
  • How do you feel when someone else truly understands what you are going through?
  • How have you been able to tell that someone understands what you have experienced or felt?
  • What helps you to understand what someone else is experiencing or feeling? What gets in your way?
  • How do you stay fully present and attentive when deeply listening to someone?
  • In what ways has empathy for another person prompted you to take action? Explain.

Round 3: Reflection & Next Steps

Answer ​one or more​ of the following questions:
  • In one sentence, share what was most meaningful or valuable to you in the experience of this Living Room Conversation?
  • What new understanding or common ground did you find within this topic?
  • Has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group, including yourself?
  • Name one important thing that was accomplished here.
  • Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation you just had?

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