Lesson 1
Defining Empathy: A Way Of Being

Defining Empathy Course

Design Notes:

  • Edwin, I want to keep working on defining empathy. That is iterating on the definition to make to clearer. Also, empathy for practical uses, how you can use it in a practical way in your life.

Google Forms:

  • Application

  • Session Feedback

  • Course Evaluation

Course Objectives

  • Lesson 1: Introduction
    Development Notes (notes for developing the lesson)

  1. An introduction to the course

      1. Empathy is important and key to a better world.

      2. We Are Building the Empathy Movement.

          1. This course is part of the Empathy Movement with the overall goal to raising the level of empathy in society. That is building a Culture of Empathy.

      3. You Are Already Highly Empathic - You Are Already Doing It.

          1. Empathy is natural - it is who we are

          2. We are wired for it. - it is like a muscle than can be strengthened, and that is what we will do in this training.

          3. it is the glue that holds relationships and society together

          4. Empathy Circle is a great practice to model and strengthen it.

      4. Why Definitions Are Important?

          1. We need shared understanding so we are talking about the same thing.

          2. it creates clarity versus confusion and muddlement. A great deal of arguments can just be based on people having different definitions

        1. We need to have clarity to take constructive action together.

      5. Problems with Current Empathy Definitions

          1. There are contradictory and confusing definitions.

          2. There are

      6. We Define Empathy As a 'Way of Being' With Many Facets.

          1. We use the 'Empathic Way of Being' Definition Model

          2. We will explain the facets

      7. Our Definition Builds on the Definitional Work of Carl Rogers.

          1. Rogers is considered one of the Top 2 or 3 most influential Clinical Phycologists of all time.

          2. This is our starting point and we build on it.

          3. About the the readings. Foundation of Carl Roger paper, Empathic An Unappreciated Way of Being.

      8. Defining Empathy in the Context of the Empathy Circle.

          1. This is unique definition since we will use the Empathy Circle as the context to define empathy.

          2. This is just a good starting point. Empathy Circles are like Empathy training wheels. A basic shared starting practice. Gives us a shared starting place to work from. We build up from here and can step back if needed, like if conflict arises. We can go back to the empathy circle to address conflict.

          3. We identify the facets within the context of the empathy circle so that we can experience, feel , and identify the facets.

      9. This Definition Supports Practical Uses.

          1. The empathy circle is a highly practical and useful tool and exercise that you can use in your life.

      10. Some Facets of An Empathic Way of Being

        1. Empathy - Covered in Lesson 1

        2. Self-Empathy - Covered in Lesson 1 (2?)

        3. Imaginative Empathy - Covered in Lesson 2 (3?)

        4. Relational Empathy - Covered in Lesson 2 (4?)

        5. Empathic Action - Covered in

      11. We will be exploring these different facets and experiencing them in the breakout Empathy Circles.

Breakout rooms: Do the Empathy Circle and;

      1. How to you define Empathy and point out where you see it in the Empathy Circle.

        1. Identifying Empathy In the Empathy Circle. It is sensing into another persons experience. The Active Listener is empathizing with the Speaker

        2. Identifying Self-Empathy In the Empathy Circle. The speaker is sensing into their own internal experiencing.

      2. Change: perhaps start with a more gentle introduction with participants having an empathy circle on what their definition of empathy is.

          1. Still need some intro. We are going into an empathy circle and try to identify aspects of empathy in the empathy circle?

          2. Do an empathy circle on how have Participants been defining empathy?

      3. add to course application

        1. Why do you think it is important to define empathy?

        2. What is your basic definition of empathy, and where do you see it expressed in the Empathy Circle?

        3. What questions do you have about the definition of empathy?



    1. View: Empathy Circle How To Videos

        1. Video: How To Take Part in a Basic Empathy Circle (25 min)

    2. Read and Watch: Rogers 'Empathic: An Unappreciated Way of Being'

      1. Note: Watch the video and read the paper since the paper goes into a bit more depth than the video presentation.

      2. This paper is a description of empathy in the context of a Client - Therapist relationship. The definition still works if you think of it in a general personal relationships or in a Empathy Circle. When you read the word 'Therapist', think of 'Active Listener'. Instead of the term 'Client', think of 'Speaker.'

    3. Read Active Listening by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson

      1. This article do not mention empathy, but is about the active listening (empathic listening) process that we use in the Empathy Circle. It will give you more insights and understanding about the process.

  2. START LESSON: Welcome (30 min)

  3. Check-in: Why are you interested in taking the course?

  4. Review of Course

    1. Intention: To Build the Empathy Movement - need a clear definition and understanding.

      1. Clarity: sense of clarity is important.

  5. Course Arc: Overview of the Six Lessons

      1. In Lesson 1 - we will...

          1. connect with participants current definitions of empathy

          2. Explore Empathy as a Way of Being

          3. Explore Accurate Empathy

      2. In Lesson 2 - we will...

          1. Explore Self-Empathy

      3. In Lesson 3 - we will...

          1. Explore Imaginative Empathy

      4. In Lesson 4 - we will...

          1. Explore Relational Empathy

      5. In Lesson 5 - we will...

          1. learn the Blocks to Empathy

      6. In Lesson 6 - we will...

          1. Evaluate other definition Models in relation to the Way of Being Model

  6. Presentation

    1. Empathy as 'Way of Being' Model

    2. Defining Empathy in the Context of the Empathy Circle.

    3. Empathy is innate - we empathize all the time.

  7. Empathy Circle - Exercises: ( 1.5 Hr.)

    1. Empathic listening - what does it feel like?

    2. Empathy Circle to discuss what we learned

  8. Full Group Debrief (30 min)

      1. Share Insights and Learnings from Exercises

        1. How has your definition and understanding of empathy changed?

      2. Review What We Did in Todays Lesson

      3. Give Assignments

        1. Fill Out Session Feedback Form and Evaluation

        2. Do an Empathy Buddy Call

        3. Reading assignments.

      4. etc.

Lesson 1


    • Welcome everyone to our 6 week course on defining empathy

    • We are Edwin, Shannon, Violeta. [Each introduces themselves.]

      1. Background?

      2. Why are we interested in defining empathy?

Participants - Why are you interested in defining empathy?

  • Take 1 minute to share Name, Location and why interested in the course and defining empathy?

Review the Course Objectives

Review the Arch of the Course

  • In Session 1: Introduction

    • We give a definition of empathy

    • We will use the Empathy Circle and identity empathy in the circle

  • In Session 2: We expand on the definition.

    • Self-Empathy, Imaginative Empathy, Relational Empathy, etc.

  • In Session 3: Blocks to Empathy

    • To understand empathy better, we will explore what empathy is not.

  • In Session 4: More Blocks to Empathy

    • We continue to explore what empathy is not.

  • In Session 5: Evaluating How People Use the Concept

    • We will evaluate how other people are using the term.

  • In Session 6: Deeper Evaluating How People Use the Concept

    • We will evaluate how other people are using the term.

    • Close

Introduction (perhaps a slideshow)

    1. This course is part of an Empathy Movement that has the goal of raising the level of empathy in our own lives and in society. We call it a culture of empathy. Some core values are mutual empathy, openness, listening and care.

    2. To grow the movement it is important to have clear definitions about what we are talking about

    3. There is a lot of confusion about what is meant by empathy.

    4. So we will take a deep dive

    5. We will be giving a definition and a way of understanding empathy,

    6. This course is unique in that we will use the Empathy Circle practice as the context to define empathy. We will also use the empathy circle to discuss and explore

Empathy Circle - Exercises

      1. Empathic listening - what does it feel like?

      2. Empathy Circle to discuss what we learned

Full Group Debrief


  1. Session Feedback form and Evaluation

  2. Empathy Buddy Call

  3. Reading assignments.

  4. etc.