July 2019: CEIA is delighted to announce that after months of research, consultation and testing it has developed a pedagogy for empathy training for international professionals. This ground-breaking work paves the way for mediators, diplomats, policymakers and other professionals to enhance their understanding, efficacy and impact.

CEIA’s small team of professionals systematically identified and evaluated research conducted in the behavioural sciences on the most effective ways to enhance empathy skills, as well as related social skills and psychological awareness. We scrutinised over 40 separate studies of empathy training which have been conducted, largely through a psychology lens, in the spheres of medicine, nursing and education.

To reinforce that work, we conducted in-depth discussions with expert trainers and practitioners, as well as academics with backgrounds in law, mediation, international relations and psychology.

We developed presentations, case studies and exercises, which draw on both the latest findings from behavioural science, as well as insights from experts, and then tested and refined this work through pilots with graduate students and mid-career professionals.

Methodology

The result is a pedagogical approach which is innovative, stimulating and effective. Above all, it seeks to:

  • Expand awareness of insights from research and practice
  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas
  • Stimulate critical thinking on personal and professional experience
  • Enable the enhancement of skills, and
  • Generate interest and curiosity.

All of the training sessions are highly interactive, involving:

  • Presentations with insights from behavioural and social sciences
  • Facilitated whole-group and small-group discussions
  • Structured exercises and assignments
  • Simulations and role-plays, with mutual feedback, and
  • Real world case studies.

Content

Substantively, the goal of the training is to increase participants’ awareness of the utility of empathy in conflict resolution, and to enhance their skills in discerning and managing others’ thoughts, feelings and perceptions. More specifically, that means:

  • Develop their appreciation of psychological dimensions of conflict
  • Enhance their empathy and perspective-taking skills
  • Increase their ability to apply empathy in practice, and
  • Expand their knowledge of how empathy, in conjunction with other skills, can help to resolve and prevent conflict.

To meet these objectives CEIA has developed eleven diverse and challenging training modules:

  • Introduction to Empathy in Conflict Resolution
  • Psychology in Conflict
  • Biases and Perceptions in Conflict
  • Emotions in Conflict
  • Switching Perspectives
  • Active Listening
  • Rapport and Trust Building
  • Empathy in Mediation and Peace Promotion
  • Applying Empathy
  • Optional Module: Step Change
  • Optional Module: Animating and Mapping Empathy

These elements form the basis of training that CEIA is currently providing to Swiss diplomats and mediators at all levels. We are in active discussions with other foreign ministries and international organisations, and look forward to expanding the scope of this work to promote empathy and psychological awareness across a range of spheres of international affairs.