Compassionate Listening is a process rather than a product. It is healing precisely because it does not pretend to “have the answers.” Rather, it engages the participants in processes that have each side seeing the humanity of the other, even when they disagree.
Rabbi David Zaslow, Ashland Oregon
The Compassionate Listening Project teaches powerful skills for peacemaking in our families, communities, on the job, and in social change work locally and globally. Our curriculum for Compassionate Listening grew out of our many years of reconciliation work on the ground in Israel and Palestine. We adapted our trainings for peace-building in everyday life and began to teach in the U.S. in 1999, and the trainings have continued to develop and grow through our beloved community of facilitators. We now offer trainings and workshops worldwide for everyday peace-building, as well as Advanced Trainings and Facilitator Certification program.
Please click on the following links to learn more about us:
Learn more about our programs:
- Compassionate Listening training and workshops
- Journey to the Heart of Israel & Palestine
- Journey to the Heart of GuateMaya
- Advanced Training
- German-Jewish Compassionate Listening
Our new book, Practicing the Art of Compassionate Listening, by Andrea Cohen, with Leah Green and Susan Partnow; our guidebook for Compassionate Listening, “Listening with the Heart” and videos, “Children of Abraham” and “Crossing the Lines: Palestinians and Israelis speak with The Compassionate Listening Project” are teaching tools for professionals as well as resources for individuals and community organizations.
About the Compassionate Listening Model
Compassionate Listening was originated by Gene Knudsen Hoffman -international peacemaker, founder of the US/USSR Reconciliation program for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and student of Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. The concepts were further developed by Leah Green, Carol Hwoschinsky, and a group of dedicated individuals who are now facilitators of the work. Gene wrote, “Some time ago I recognized that terrorists were people who had grievances, who thought their grievances would never be heard, and certainly never addressed. Later I saw that all parties to every conflict were wounded, and at the heart of every act of violence is an unhealed wound.” In her role as a counselor, Gene recognized that non-judgmental listening was a great healing process in itself.
As Gene originally conceived it, Compassionate Listening requires questions which are non-adversarial and listening which is non-judgmental. Listeners seek the truth of the person questioned, seeing through ‘masks of hostility and fear to the sacredness of the individual.’ Listeners seek to humanize the ‘other’. Listeners accept what others say as their perceptions, and validate the right to their own perceptions. Compassionate Listening can cut through barriers of defense and mistrust, enabling both those listened to and those listening to hear what they think, to change their opinions, and to make more informed decisions. Through this process, fear can be reduced, and participants will be better equipped to discern how to proceed with effective action.
The Compassionate Listening Project built upon Gene’s ideas by developing a training curricula. While holding listening as the core of our practice and the precursor to dialogue and reconciliation, we also added “Speaking from the Heart” as a central skill in our training. For more on the Five Core Practices of Compassionate Listening, please click on our Training page. Gene’s essays on Compassionate Listening are on the web at the Institute for Cooperative Communicaton Skills. You can also download her free Compassionate Listening Sourcebook with a chapter by Leah Green.
Then we must listen. We must listen and listen and listen. We must listen for the Truth in our opponent, and we must acknowledge it. After we have listened long enough, openly enough, and with the desire to really hear, we may be given the opportunity to speak our truth. We may even have the opportunity to be heard.
For no one and no one side is the sole repository of Truth. But each of us has a spark of it within. Perhaps, with compassion as our guide, that spark in each of us can become a glow, and then perhaps a light, and we will watch one another in awe as we become illuminated. And then, perhaps, this spark, this glow, this, light will become the enlightening energy of love that will save all of us.
Gene Knudsen Hoffman, from her essay, “Speaking Truth to Power”
Learn more about Gene Knudsen Hoffman in “Compassionate Listening and other writings by Gene Knudsen Hoffman,” published in January 2004 by Anthony Manousos, editor of the Friends Bulletin. To learn more about this beautiful book and purchase it online, click here.