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Posts: 180
Reply with quote  #1 
Empathy Buffet Evening

What is it?
Empathy Buffets are leaderless opportunities to exchange empathy without a focus-topic.  It`s an event where the resources of the group can be drawn upon, to support one another.

And its absolutely delicious!

(For more types of easy, almost plug-and-play, ways to lead an NVC group session see this page)

Suggested Ingredients

Possible Schedule
Outline of how the timing could be organized:


Check in *(see comments below)

6:30 - 7:00

30 min


Intro options:

  • Review of a few key group guidelines. Here is my request for collaborative care, as a form of guidelines that you may adopt to your needs. Somethings covered in this sheet are: how to empower yourself in a group, emergency measures for when anyone is triggered, how to handle discontent.
  • If needed, an explanation of how empathy works, answering questions)
  • Handout feelings and needs sheets

7:00 - 7:15

15 min


(Optional: 2-10 min silent or guided meditation before or after check in. See below for comments)

7:00 - 7:10

2-10 min


Empathy sessions: Break into groups of three.

7:10 - 8:10

1hr (= 20 mins for each person. However, if you are using the self assessment worksheet, I recommend you do 15 mins of empathy followed by 5 mins of self assessment)


Check out *

8:10 - 8:45

30 min


(Optional: Announcements for the upcoming events and any other news.  A request for prompt exit of building)
*See comments below

8:45 - 8:50

5 min

Optional Spices for Flavor

Headspace Meditation

There`s the technique of meditation, and then there`s the essence of meditation.  I recommend aiming for the essence of meditation over any technique.  I find that the Headspace.com app is excellent for learning how to get to the essence of meditation (which is to be present to what arises in the moment).  When I use it I get the sense that I`m building the skills to access the essence of meditation.  The foundation meditations are about 11 minutes. You could also  bring speakers to group if your phone speakers aren`t loud enough.

*Comments on Timing

Check in & outs
Our check ins/outs with 8 people generally take 30 mins.  

If you prefer to keep check ins/outs brief (especially when there's lots of people) you could you do something like asking them to focus on naming one feeling and two needs (and no more) that is coming up for them.  

Be prepared with having a way to remind participants, as some of them may forget or lose touch with the instructions as they get talking.  To minimize this, one idea is to ask them to reflect back what you said about instructions before starting the check-in.  The group may however, still need to prompt a reminder.

On the other hand, you can also use the larger group setting during check in, as an empathy session itself.

Check out
I wouldn't recommend doing an empathy session as a check out.  This is because when empathy sessions get going, there's so much emotion stirred that it's more of a challenge to wrap it up in a timely fashion (that is, in keeping with to our commitment to exit the building promptly before 9pm - see below).  

Participants may be still basking in the afterglow of the empathy buffet and forget such matters.  So again, you may need to remind people that check outs are separate from empathy sessions, as we have a deadline for exiting the building. You could opt for requesting a reflection of you said about instructions before starting the check-out.

Prompt exit before 9pm
Out of consideration for staff, we've agreed with the staff that we will leave the building promptly before 9pm.  Please help us maintain our integrity and trust with them. You are welcome to continue mingling outside the Pacifica doors.


Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Melissa,

I wanted to thank you for your efforts in putting together the guidelines and the your work in reminding us about the need for facilitation--all with an enthusiastic writing style!  Your messages are informative with a touch of playfulness and lightness which I really appreciate!

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Posts: 180
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks!  I am enjoying your appreciation and hearing how I contribute to your joy [smile]

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