The Center for Empathy in International Affairs recently conducted the world’s first specialised empathy training for diplomats.

On 19-20 March 2018 CEIA ran a Workshop on Strategic Empathy for the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs in the country’s capital city Bern.

The workshop was attended by 10 Swiss officials who are involved in several major international peace processes, mediation efforts and channels of dialogue. The goal of the workshop was to increase participants’ awareness of the utility of strategic empathy in conflict resolution and peace promotion, and to enhance their skills in applying empathy in practice.

The workshop, was conducted by Matt Waldman, CEIA’s Director and Adviser to the UN Special Representative for Somalia, and Robert Bordone, Thaddeus R. Beal Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the founder of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program.

The two day workshop covered a wide range of issues, skills, techniques and analytical approaches that enhance the prospects for the successful prevention and mediation of conflict. The principal segments of the workshop related to: obstacles to conflict resolution; psychology in conflict; psychology in conflict resolution; active listening; managing perceptions and emotions in negotiation; empathy in conflict resolution and peace promotion; and applying empathy in practice.

The workshop sought to develop participants’ awareness and understanding of key issues through: active engagement and involvement; the sharing of knowledge, insights and ideas; critical self-reflection and consideration of the participants own professional experience. The workshop involved five different pedagogical techniques: (1) facilitated whole group and small group discussions; (2) presentations drawing on the latest scientific research; (3) several focussed exercises and a structured role reversal exercise; (4) a negotiation simulation; and (5) a real world case study.

In giving anonymous feedback, every participant said they would recommend the workshop to colleagues. All participants thought the workshop was useful, with 80 per cent saying they found the workshop very or extremely useful.

CEIA extends its sincere thanks to all participants and to the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and is looking forward to further collaboration.

The Swiss FDFA in Bern: