Last Saturday I attended my first training session to become a Empathy Circle Facilitator. The training consists of five 2 and a half hour sessions. The first session focused on values.
Over 40 individuals from all over the world attended the session. And we shared our values through the structured process of the Empathy Circle. The session was recorded and below is the link to the video.
One of the Facilitators starts the training event asking each of the attendees to introduce themselves. This is typically followed by a short expository of the theme of the session. And then an explanation of the 4 roles that attendees take turns sharing during the sessions. The four roles are as follows.
- Reflective Listener
- Silent Listener
The topic for this first session was values. There is homework and extensive process explanations that is coordinated using Google documents service. It is expected that each of the participants has studied the written course notes before attending each session. While the topic is important the it is the process that is the real teacher.
As this is Facilitator training the Facilitator has to have a sense of what are empathic values. It is the job of the Facilitator to keep the process on track and not allow any participant to “get out of line.” So, far I have attended viewed about 30 hours of Empathy Circles and I have only seen very minor slips from individuals. But, I sense the facilitator must be prepared to intervene in a kind but firm way to maintain the safe space.
Before the session the whole group was asked to supply three values to create a Mentimeter graphic. My three reply on values were unique and thus were in very small print on the graphic. One of the values I hold that I mentioned was “category clarity.” This is partially about the human mind being able to respect boundaries.
The involvement in building a culture of Empathy has helped my political struggle by forcing me as“speaker” and “silent listener” to organize my thoughts. Just answering the question about my values caused me to coin the new term “category clarity.” For those of you that have been following my diaries you might remember I have written a lot on the concept of categories.
Now at this point you might be wondering how over 40 attendees to the session might get enough time to both speak and be an active listener. This is accomplished by splitting the group into breakout rooms of 4 to 6 participants.
At least 10 of the attendees were individuals that have taken the Facilitator training and to continue the training with practical experience they became the facilitators in the breakout rooms. So the facilitator training doesn’t end with the 5 classes offered in the course. It is an ongoing process. Next week I will describe my experience with the second class in the course.
Now back to my story about my experience with political organizing in Vallejo. As I have been hinting I ran in to resistance to my leadership as president of our local Democratic club. Perhaps it was because I have clear values. My policy was to accept everyone and see individuals in the context of their background. And to focused on what positive thing they could bring to the table. Another value I had was not to attack individuals for differing cultural practices. And in general not to attack or criticize Democrats.
My openness and attempt to give every community member a voice was not received well by a large well organized group of Democrats driven by identity politics. And this group worked hard to eliminate me. Going forward I can name names of public figures or redact the names of these individuals from my story. What do you think I should do?