The Empathy Box by training firm Tribeless is a toolkit for fostering healthier communication, whether for work or personal environments.
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It’s widely regarded that “communication is key” in relationships.
So why then, do arguments and misunderstandings happen more often than they should at work and at home if everyone is aware of this?
Empathy training firm Tribeless argues that it’s because having meaningful conversations is really a skill to be developed, which unfortunately isn’t treated as such by most people.
But it’s looking to make meaningful conversations accessible with the toolkit they’ve been developing since 2017 — The Empathy Box.
“These skills are important in all parts of our lives,” says Wong Gwen Yi, co-founder of Tribeless.
“If you want to learn to play the violin or learn to draw, you have to practise and train.
“So The Empathy Box is exactly that — training your empathy.”
In a nutshell; The Empathy Box toolkit is a set of cards that provide themes for conversations and the mechanics to facilitate an environment of active listening and empathetic interactions.
Its use has been been wide-ranging, from being a casual activity at dinner parties to a full-fledged team building exercise at an industry conference.
A conversation using The Empathy Box begins with a participant picking a word from a selection provided in the deck, and telling a personal story associated with that word.
The only way other participants can interact with the storyteller is through one of five response cards each person is provided with: show some love, to show appreciation for what is being shared; help me understand, to pose a question; share an observation, to point out a pattern you’ve noticed in someone’s character or behaviour; offer an alternate perspective, to challenge an idea being discussed; and a wild card for any other forms of interacting that may come up.
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However, the power is completely in the storyteller’s hands to allow or put on hold the action cards put forth by the other participants.
“It’s all permission-based,” says Gwen.
“Coupled with the response cards, people are forced to be more conscious of what would otherwise be everyday interactions and better understand what may be unwanted interjections to be a better listener.”
The entire process is governed by three basic principles which advises to listen openly, share honestly and respond kindly.
The key aim of The Empathy Box is to attempt and create an environment of psychological safety, whereby everyone involved feels accepted and respected.
“It’s all basically the mechanics behind a good conversation. Everyone can relate with walking away from a good conversation feeling like it was magical without being able to explain how it happened.
“We’ve broken it down into a systematic process with this tool,” Gwen explains.
Who benefits from The Empathy Box?
The Tribeless team hosts “Tribeless Conversations”, a monthly gathering open to the public that is hosted by trained facilitator.
These public events provide the option for purchasing the basic version of The Empathy Box, which is best suited for casual home use.
However, there is also an option for signing up to be trained as a facilitator, which equips you with the advanced version of The Empathy Box.
“They may be cards, but they’re not really a ‘game.’ We’ve received testimonials from people saying it even saved their romantic relationships,” Gwen says.
Tribeless also facilitates training for professional environments. They assist in developing employer-employee communication skills to cultivate a respectful corporate culture, and also run change management programmes for startups and SMEs that are rapidly growing in size.
They are also exploring using these methods to help graduates improve soft skills to increase employability.