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Archived CEI

An Introduction in Compassionate Listening


Compassion is the radicalism of our time.

~ Dalai Lama


A lighted candle of compassion can easily illuminate the world more than the blinding light of anger, intolerance and violence combined.

~ Dodinsky


Now, more than ever, our world desperately needs compassion. And we especially need it in our families and communities. You are invited to join us for a highly interactive, experiential and inspiring introductory workshop onCompassionate Listening.

Start Date: March 13, 2023

Cost: $60

Duration: 6 weeks

Registration: Opening mid February 2023.  This course is limited to 35 people so register early to hold your spot.

Facilitator: Kathleen Coyne, EdD


This is a Zoom workshop. 

Zoom Sessions: Wednesdays:  March 15, 22, 29 and April 5, 12, 19 – 8:00 am to 10:30 pm Pacific time (11 am to 1:30 pm Eastern)
Check for your local time.

This zoom workshop is highly experiential and interactive with numerous breakout sessions.  Because of the nature of the personal sharing, it will not be recorded.  Consistent attendance is important as we create a circle of mutual support, a community of caring and connection to foster personal growth and integration of the practices.  There will be a follow up email message after each session with suggestions for home practice and continued journaling.


Course Description

Compassionate Listening offers an opportunity to practice radical compassion in our day to day lives. Based on the work of the Compassionate Listening Project (, compassionate listening is a practice that invites us to listen with a the ‘ear of the heart’ to those around us, particularly those we may not agree with. In our highly divided world, the possibilities for conflict are ubiquitous and the damage often personally painful and seemingly irreparable. In many cases, people who are most vulnerable are those who are most impacted.

In this experiential course, you will gain powerful tools to help transform conflict into opportunities for understanding, intimacy, healthy relationships, productive teamwork, and positive action. You will begin to imagine the role of compassionate listening in reducing trauma and promoting social justice. In doing so, you will be supported to recognize and honor our profound interconnectedness to each other, our common humanity and the planet we share. In sum, by practicing compassionate listening, you will cultivate the wisdom of the heart as the key to real peace "from the inside out."


Learning Objectives

You will develop skills to:

  • improve communication and foster relationships that honor mutual dignity at home, in the community and in the workplace
  • nurture your ability to listen to your own heart and that of others
  • transform conflict and divisiveness into opportunities for understanding, connection, and healing
  • develop emotional resiliency and support healthy ways of being in the world; and
  • embody compassion as a springboard to social justice.


You will do this by learning and practicing the Five Core Practices of Compassionate Listening:

  • Cultivating Compassion for self and others, including a willingness to connect even when not in agreement
  • Developing the Fair Witness, the capacity to contain triggers and create spaciousness to allow all points of view, even in conflict situations
  • Respecting Self and Others by maintaining boundaries which protect you yet include others
  • Listening with the Heart to find deeper points of connection beneath layers of defense or differing positions
  • Speaking from the Heart with language that builds bridges and reflects a healing intention.


This online course is highly experiential and requires your full presence, participation, and commitment to showing up without distraction. The sessions are not recorded, to allow privacy and confidentiality for the discussions.  Much of each session is spent in small break outs. Your presence at each and every session is essential and valued.  We ask that you please attend each session, since being together consistently enables us to build trust in one another, and each session builds on the previous one.


Course Details

Six sessions, 2.5 hours per session

Each session begins with an opening circle:  grounding, setting intention, reflection and sharing about challenges and insights from the week’s practice. This brief time at the beginning links our learning to each of our day to day lives so it is very important to be on time if at all possible.

There are suggested activities to practice between sessions, including daily journaling, listening ‘assignments,’ additional resources to enjoy (such as podcasts, Youtube videos or articles). There will be a group chat established so participants can interact, sharing successes and challenges.


Session 1 - Begin the journey of listening with your heart

Starts with creating a courageous space for learning and sharing. Introduction to and then direct practice of simple listening. Brief overview of the neuroscience of compassion and its role in supporting resiliency.  The Compassionate Listening model is introduced, its five core practices and the role of reflective listening.  Participate in a group exercise to reflectively listen beneath a ‘story’ to the deeper layers of facts-feelings-values.


Session 2 – Develop the fair witness - explore the role of dignity. Learn to listen beneath the story

Explore the role of dignity in communication and loss of dignity in conflict. Reflect on our own experiences of dignity violations and the role they play in triggering emotional responses. Participate in a small group exercise to learn to listen reflectively to the ‘story beneath the story’.


Session 3 – Supporting discernment

Learn and practice the art of deepening questions – questions to help the speaker connect to their core and discover their own wisdom.  Explore the role of questions in offering spaciousness for healing to occur.


Session 4 – Speak from the heart

Develop capacity for compassion by exploring a ‘conflicted’ relationship, stepping into the shoes of the other.  Learn skills for speaking from the heart, especially the importance of preparation and self-reflection, and distinguishing your intention from the impact you may have.


Session 5 – Stepping into the shoes of others

Explore the nature of conflict and ways to look at conflict through a dignity and compassion lens. Using the drama triangle as a metaphor for conflict, learn how to shift from a triangle to a circle of empowerment.


Session 6 - Speak from the heart

Learn skills for speaking from the heart, especially the importance of preparation and self-reflection, and distinguishing your intention from the impact you may have. Explore ways to shift debate to dialogue in a compassionate way.



Kathleen's leadership  provides fertile ground for compassionate listening practice. She inspires group participants to take risks, then uses their contributions to illustrate the elements of compassion. She knows how to connect the dots in conversations so lived experiences are relevant to new concepts.  
Kathleen is an excellent listener. Her responses in the moment show sensitivity and humility to participants.
Kathleen is well prepared, tech savvy and able to use humour appropriately, bringing levity to serious discussions.

~ Nancy,  British Columbia, Canada


I consider myself very lucky to have met Kathleen when I did. She introduced me to Compassionate Listening and so much more. Kathleen embodies compassion, both as a friend and as a teacher.  I have taken a few of her courses and always leave class with a desire to transform, and to make a positive impact on others.

~ Carla, Ontario


Your facilitator: Kathleen Coyne

Kathleen CoyneKathleen’s passion for community based transformative processes began at a grassroots level working as a volunteer in a rural British Columbia community. Since that time, she has worked for government in Northern Canada, managed a non-profit in Vancouver’s inner city and worked extensively as a consultant in the non-profit sector, focusing primarily on creative planning and dialogue for diverse communities. Her fulltime work life culminated with an opportunity to design and teach Community Leadership and Social Change programs with and for First Nation, newcomer and low- income communities in Vancouver, British Columbia. Kathleen holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Design and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy.

Throughout her life, Kathleen has been inspired by the incredible potential of community when people get to know their neighbours in a deep and openhearted way and commit to learning from and with each other. Turning now to part-time work, Kathleen’s focus has shifted to supporting individuals, families and communities to connect and grow in ways that are respectful of each other, our shared resources and the land we share. 

To strengthen her capacity to do that, she trained with the Compassionate Listening Project ( and is now a Certified Compassionate Listening Facilitator. Here is what participants have said about taking courses with her:

Her commitment to the material and authentic desire to share it is very apparent. I have immense gratitude for the thoughtful time and energy that she put into this, and for her loving commitment to all of us. 

Kathleen provides a powerful example of compassionate listening by using her skills in combination with the deep wisdom of the group members in our conversations.

To deepen her ability to understand the role of compassion in areas of conflict, Kathleen participated in the Journey to the Heart, a 10 day listening journey to Israel and Palestine. She continues to expand her knowledge of compassion centred models through training with the Compassionate Integrity program facilitator training, Boundless Compassion Facilitator Training, and other online offerings.

And to ensure her work remains rooted in social justice practice, Kathleen is also now the coordinator for the syiyaya Reconciliation Movement, supporting dialogue between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.  She is also working to embed a compassionate community approach to health and social services at a local level.



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