Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Alan Seid


Alan Seid & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with NVC
Empathy does not mean agreement.
Empathy has a quality of following - it's not leading.
Keep learning about empathy.
What are the obstacles to deepening empathy? Speed. Being in our heads.




Alan Seid & Edwin Rutsch: Dialogs on How to Build a Culture of Empathy with NVC



  • 00:00 Introduction

  • (transcription pending)

  • (Video Transcriptions: If you would like to take empathic action and create a transcription of this video, check the volunteers page.  The transcriptions will make it easier for other viewers to quickly see the content of this video.)


  • How can we build a culture of empathy? i.e. raise the level of empathy in society?

    • Empathy education in the schools

    • Empathy education in mainstream media (sitcoms and hollywood movies)

    • Restorative justice.

    • Keep learning about empathy.

  • How are you defining empathy?

    • A respectful or compassionate understanding. Not an intellectual understanding, but the understanding that comes from being FULLY PRESENT with another.

  • What is your metaphor of what empathy is like? Explain?

    • In giving empathy it is sometimes like having energetic arms with which I am "holding" the other person.

  • Describe your personal felt experience in your body of empathy?

    • When receiving,

      • it's a sense of being gotten.

      • Sometimes it comes with a sense of release.

      • Sometimes someone's presence feels palpable.

    • In giving:

      • I am TOTALY present. So much so that sometimes I and the room we're in fades away.

  • What are the obstacles to deepening empathy?

    • Speed.

    • Being in our heads.

    • Believing our stories about others. (Don't believe everything you think. Byron Katie.)


How to DO Empathy 
A mini-training by Alan Seid on the topic of giving empathy to others.

  • 00:00 Video is about how to do empathy

  •  Many definitions of empathy - 14 definitions.

    • Learn actionable item

    • Giving empathy - really give attention and presence

    • Need for empathy is met.

    • Definition - a respectful or compassionate understanding.

      • we have universal need to be heard/gotten/understood in a deep way

  • 01:20 empathy does not mean agreement.

    • reflection demonstrates understanding

    • once someone feels heard they are more open to listen.

  • 03:00 Empathy versus sympathy

    • Empathy full presence

    • Sympathy - telling your story.

    • Instrument with sympatric strings metaphor

    • (why is focus and feeling of presence so important?)

    • people just want someone to be with them

  • 04:50 Empathy has a quality of following - it's not leading

    • not  questions - questions are leading

    • empathy is following - staying present with someone.

  • 06:00 What happens when people get enough empathy

    • they stop talking

    • an emotional shift happens

    • having someone be present with you, gives you space for new insights to come up

  • 07:20 empathy is not

    • investigating

    • advice - suggestions

    • is being present - being fully heard - gotten

    • tube metaphor for communications

    • empathy before honesty, education,

  • Importance of slowing things down is good for presence

  • check-in before giving or sharing advice