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Edwin Rutsch 2

The story of Empathizing with the person in a Educators workshop.
this story was submitted for Mary Goyer's book on empathy stories.
























20 people, in small groups

Gave instructions for an activity. We're vague and I didn't really understand it, but I just go and do what is of interest to me.

Hispanic man

looked distraught and said he didn't understand what we were supposed to do.

The Facilitator came over and tried to explain. I could see the man was not understanding and the more the facilitator explained the worse the situation got.

I could see he was stressed, so when the activity started I reflected back, That I heard we didn't understand the activity..

He Felt

  • overwhelmed

  • confused

  • alienation - he was about to walk out,

  • exclusion

  • disconnected - These were not his people,  were progressives

  • anxiety

  • sadness

  • resentful

  • judgment


Realized he was telling himself a story

The facilitator tried to explain instead of empathize first to really hear what was going on with him at a deeper level.


As he talked I took notes with the markers on the paper on the table.

He needed

  • inclusion

  • belonging

  • connection

  • understanding

  • learning

  • community

  • flexibility

  • ownership

We went around sharing, stood up and shared an eloquently how he was ready to walk out, how my listening and helped him, etc.


how great it was to be heard.

What did you do? someone asked,

I just listened and empathized with him.










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