Empathy – A Foundation for Courage
Empathy is the foundation in group work, otherwise the atmosphere quickly becomes lousy. When the individuals of a group understand that they depend on each other to achieve a good result, it becomes more important to understand each other. And when everyone feels they are being listened to, they become braver. The first thing they hear is “yes, tell me more” instead of “no, I don’t get that”. This in turn creates a tolerant atmosphere where everyone dares to show who they are and what they think.
To create an empathic yes-sayer atmosphere, you as a leader can give the group small assignments. The premise is that there is no right or wrong. They should try all ideas and find what everyone can stand behind.
Set a clear time limit. “No” is not a permitted word. Starting with that, the group will create a choreography using:
- Three predetermined positions: high, middle, low.
- Three types of movements: spin, jump, fall.
- Three kinds of shapes: straight, round, triangle.
This can be either a small exercise or be developed into an entire project. Start by deciding on a common value word and discussing how the word can be translated into a painting.
The simplest version is a large piece of paper on the floor that you paint on together. If you want to develop the exercise for a project, you can involve the local community. For example, by letting residents come up with suggestions for motifs based on the value word. Collaborate with an artist and find a public space where you are allowed to install the piece together.
Let the group solve a small scenographic challenge. Present a clear structure, limit the time, and strive for consensus. No proposals may be rejected without having first been discussed.