Empathy circles: Listening from the heart

About ten or so people — mostly strangers — gathered at Earthfare Friday evening Nov. 15 to practice what Cathy Holt, group leader and author of HeartSpeak: Listening and Speaking from the Heart, calls a “scarce commodity.” They were there to give and receive empathy. 

Cathy Holt has been leading practice groups for HeartSpeak (non-violent communication) in private groups and schools for years, and has recently published a mini-booklet of the same name. Holt says that empathy can be defined as, “essentially being able to reflect back the feelings and the needs that you are guessing the other person might have.” Furthermore, the “guess” as to what the other person is feeling doesn’t have to be correct for the empathy to work.