> Restorative Empathy Circles
with Democrats and Republicans
Let's bring the different political parties and political movements
like to bring two Democrats and two Republicans
together via a video recorded group Skype or Google Hangouts call to have a
deeper discussion about each person's underlying values and how they
relate to empathy. We will dialog to find common ground and transcend
the partisan divide. The circle will be video recorded and be placed on Youtube.
and deepen empathic connection and understanding between
all participants. All participants will be fully heard.
The circle will last about 1 hr 30 min.
Process, Questions and Dialog
Introduction: Facilitator introductions to the discussion.
Question 1: How are you right now?
Modeling reflective listening. We will use reflective listening in
the discussion. In this process, as one person shares their story, comments,
ideas, etc, someone from the other (political) side will reflect back to the
speaker what they are hearing until the speaker feels fully heard and
understood. Then the other side will do the same. This continues in a back and
To demonstrate the process, to begin with, the facilitator will ask, How
are you right now?
Each participant can share how they are doing at the moment and the
facilitator will reflect back what they are hearing to model reflective
: What is your most
important value and what is the story of how that value became
important to you?
Question 3: W
hat is the
relationship of your value to empathy?
Question 4: What ideas do you have about how to work together across party
create more empathic dialog, connection, understanding?
About Reflective Listening
Part of the Empathy Circle process is Reflective Listening. In
this process, as one person shares their story, comments, ideas, etc, someone
from the other side will reflect back to the speaker what they are hearing,
until the speaker feels fully heard and comprehended.
When the speaker feels fully heard about what they have to say,
at that point the person from the other side speaks and someone from the other
side reflects back what they heard? etc.
The speaker is in a sense "teaching" the listener to hear them more
deeply and accurately.
Reflecting back does not mean you agree with the speaker, but
merely reflecting the meaning of what you hear them say.
The process slows down the conversations and helps create a
more empathic connection and understanding.
looks like this.
Hangouts Video looks like this.
are some highlights of Statement by Jackie Salit President of IndependentVoting.org
“What is most
striking to me in the Living Room Conversations hosted by activists in our
network is that they weren’t about coming to an agreement on an issue. They
were built around a positive process in which having differences was not a
problem and through which people not only learned new things, they learned in
new ways. It was an experience of political culture change, created by the
people in the room."
Presentation in Seattle
Amanda and I
have been invited to discuss Living Room Conversations at the National
Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) conference in Seattle in
NCDD promotes the use of dialogue, deliberation, and other innovative group
processes to help people come together across differences to tackle our most
challenging problems. We serve as a gathering place, a resource clearinghouse, a
news source, and a facilitative leader for the dialogue and deliberation
community and beyond.
Climate Reality Conference /Climate
gave a presentation on Living Room Conversations at Al Gore’s Climate Reality
Training which took place in San Francisco on August 21 – 23. There were over
1000 people attending from around the world, of which 640 N American
participants. The response was enthusiastic! These are deeply committed
potential co-hosts. Anne Devero and I (see note below about Anne) distributed
information on Living Room Conversations to all participants and look forward to
launching many conversations on Energy this year and next. The Climate Reality
team is excited about exploring the potential of Living Room Conversations
around energy and climate issues and we are too!
Mike Brune of
the Sierra Club just highlighted Living Room Conversations in a recent blog http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201209/create-elections-politics-michael-brune-256.aspx We
are talking to the Sierra Club about Living Room Conversations focused on coal.
Beginning in September we will be
working with trained New Hampshire Listens leaders. The goal is to bring
civility back to the public sphere and spark dialogue with a wide variety of
citizens. Living Room Conversations and New Hampshire Listens will be
co-branding materials and provide a unique online community to facilitate Living
Room Conversations across New Hampshire on the Role of Government. Co-hosts will
collect the areas of common ground that emerge from the conversations and share
them with the entire community. A program of sustained Living Room
Conversations on topics concerning the state is planned. New Hampshire Listens
has over 6000 trained leaders in its network.
I was interviewed
on The Richard Fowler Show and discussed Living Room Conversation. Please note
that the interview starts at 00:34:30.
Living Room Conversations cited in Slow Democracy
The soon to be released book Slow Democracy reports on
Living Room Conversations as one of three dialog practices that support slow