Empathy Call Recommendations
How to Create Extremely Deep And Valuable Relationship Through Structured Conversation!
Why Try This?
We often discuss how we need more empathy in the world. This practice is an opportunity for you to receive, give, and practice empathy! What are you waiting for, my friend?
During an empathy call, you will split the time focusing on one person as the speaker with the other as the listener. After the first person's turn is complete, you switch roles. The first key is for you to commit to listening deeply when you're the listener and following the lead of what the speaker is looking for. The second key is for you to commit to being honest with what you want to share and listening to yourself internally as you are speaking.
Avoid sharing anything that will bring up conflict for you and your partner. That is for you to get empathy from a different empathy buddy and for other conflict care & resolution exercises. Feel free to reach out for those types of tools.
Feel free to find a time that works best for you and your buddy. Here are a few of the general structures I use, by time
For 30 min calls:
5 min check-in,
10 min share from person A,
10 min from person B,
5 min debrief
10 min check-in (2-3 minute of quiet/settling in/meditation),
20 min share Person A,
20 min share Person B,
10 min debrief + check-out
15 min check-in (5 minutes settling in),
30 min Person A,
30 min Person B,
15 min debrief + check-out
More Detailed Tips & Tricks by Section
- Say hi!
- 1-2 minute share on Capacity/Overwhelm level
- Check that the timing still works
- Get your timers out
- Discuss any important logistics
Do any of the following:
- Breathe quietly
- Look around your room or out your window
- Allow your nervous system to settle
- Consider what your personal intentions for this time together is
During your turn to speak
You are in charge! Decide what you would like to share and what kind of response you’d like. Check that your partner is willing. If your partner is unsure if they’ll be able to give what you want, maybe ask for something else OR give it a try and see how it goes. Check your own willingness as you go!
Some things you might want to ask for (and maybe a combination of these):
- Active Listening
- No interruption
- Your partner interrupts if they can’t retain everything you're sharing
- Viewable notes (e.g. Google Docs)
- Empathy guesses of feelings & needs
- Summary-style reflections
- Point-by-point reflections
- Advice, brainstorming support
- Connected Conversation (one chunk & reflection at a time)
- Other (be creative)!
During your turn to listen
Focus on providing your attention and care to the other person.
If you notice you have thoughts & feelings
- Set these aside (e.g. writing them down & then returning your attention to the speaker); this includes even things on behalf of wanting to see their problems solved
- Wait until the speaker asks for something. After they have asked and you’ve given what they’re looking for, ask them for permission if you’d like to share your own thoughts and feelings. Be ready to hear a “no”!!! Your goal is to prioritize their preferences
Remember that even if you cannot do the practice perfectly, that is ok. Your goal is to be as present as possible at this moment. However present you are able to be, your attention helps make the container for their thoughts, feelings, and needs to be expressed
Discuss how the experience was:
- What needs of yours were nourished through the practice?
- Are there any new plans or agreements you’d like to consider for the future?
- Anything that was difficult for you?
Scheduling a Regular Practice
- Go slow!! It can be super easy to get "intimacy hangovers" by sharing too much too fast in this incredibly empathic space
- Be sure to agree on timing before you start (e.g 20 mins each person + debrief). Give yourself a minute or two to transition between folx
- Do not judge yourself or your partner if it's not a good match! Everyone needs different things in emotional support/empathy. Sometimes it's really easy for us to give what a specific partner wants and sometimes it's really difficult for us. Even if you're not a good empathy buddy match, you can still be friends ^_^
- If you think it's a good match, I recommend trying 2-3 weekly sessions in a row and then giving yourself a few weeks as a break to reconnect with yourself. The time will give you a chance to see if you miss connecting with this person or if the regular conversations were draining on you. Take the time to see if there was anything even slightly uncomfortable that you'd like to ask to address. When you next meet, start by talking about what you might want to change.
I've done this practice with ~8 folx. Some for years and some for less than a few sessions. I have found that naming what wasn't working can be really tricky if there's no explicit time to talk discuss potential changes and you have gotten into a habit of meeting!
Get a Practice PartnerIf you don't have anyone to practice with, please share a little bit about yourself and I'll be happy to either find you a partner or give you a free practice session.