Compassion in Action:
An Introduction to the Compassionate Listening Project
The Compassionate Listening Project teaches powerful skills for peacemaking. Our curriculum for Compassionate Listening grew out of our many years of reconciliation work on the ground in Israel and Palestine, beginning in 1991. 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 offer trainings and workshops worldwide for everyday peace-building. We also offer coaching, mentoring and Facilitator Certification.
About the Compassionate Listening Model
Compassionate Listening helps us to awaken to what the mystics from all of the great faiths have known for centuries: that cultivating the wisdom of the heart is the key to real peace from the inside out. The intention of Compassionate Listening is to access our deepest wisdom to transform separation and conflict into an opportunity for connection, healing and peace.
Compassionate Listening is
A personal practice – to cultivate inner strength, self awareness, self regulation and wisdom
A skill set – to enhance interpersonal relations and navigate challenging conversation
A process – to bring individuals or groups together to bridge their differences and transform conflict
A healing gift – to offer a compassionate listening session to a person who feels marginalized or in pain
Compassionate Listening was conceived by Gene Knudsen Hoffman (1919 - 2010), 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.
As Gene originally conceived it, Compassionate Listening requires non-judgmental listening and deepening, non-adversarial questions. Listeners seek the truth of the person speaking, seeing through ‘masks of hostility and fear to the sacredness of the individual.’ Listeners accept what others say as their perceptions, and validate the right to their own perceptions. In this way, listeners seek to humanize the ‘other’. Compassionate Listening can cut through barriers of defense and mistrust, enabling both those listened to and those listening to hear themselves in new light, 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.
We honor Gene as the originator of Compassionate Listening and invite you to learn more about her in
“Compassionate Listening and other writings by Gene Knudsen Hoffman,” by Anthony Manousos.
Click here to learn more about this beautiful book and purchase it online.
You can also download her free Compassionate Listening Sourcebook with a chapter by Leah Green.
Some of Gene’s essays on Compassionate Listening are on the web at the New Conversations Initiative.
Photo : Leah Green and Gene Knudsen Hoffman, by Linda Wolf
Compassionate Listening has been taught in many countries and embedded in numerous projects. Our 45 facilitators (and growing) see it as a personal spiritual practice, and a skill-set for conflict transformation and peace-building that supports us to "be the change we wish to see in the world".
Read more details about our rich history and projects.
“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.”
~ Gene Knudsen Hoffman, Compassionate Listening Pioneer