Purpose: This activity helps start the conversation around empathy and understanding why people feel and act in certain ways.
Materials needed: Large pieces of paper, sticky notes, markers
- Break the group up into smaller groups of 3s or 4s.
- Hand each group a large piece of paper, sticky notes and markers.
- Ask the groups to divide the large piece of paper into four quadrants.
- Ask them to name each of the quadrants: think, feel, say, do.
- In the think section, ask them to write: When I think I should have known better…
- Now ask them to use their sticky notes to write down their feelings, words, and actions that would be common for them when they think they should have known better. For example, When I think I should have known better; I feel upset with myself; I say I shouldn’t have trusted you; I do or act controlling.
- Each of these would be on a separate sticky note and group members would then put these sticky notes in the appropriate quadrant on the large sheet of paper.
- Now ask them to read each other’s within their smaller groups and look for commonalities and differences. Encourage them to ask each other questions about their reactions.
- What reactions made sense to them? Could they see how people could feel differently even when they had the same thought? Could they see how these feelings could lead to different actions?
Debrief this activity by asking for any understanding that developed as they listened to their group members.
Explain that the ability to understand someone else’s thoughts and feelings, even when they are different from our own, is the ability to have empathy.