The Women's Information Network of New York (WIN.NYC) is a community of pro-choice, democratic women living and working in New York City that offers opportunities for emerging leaders through online and in-person events. For the twice annual symposium series, I hosted a brunch accompanied by activities and an intimate discussion that supported WIN members in harnessing their unique personas and talents that give truth to how they show up in the world. Pulling from best practices in applied empathy, diversity & inclusion, and nonviolent communication, the tools provided are helpful in any professional or personal relationship setting.
Most women at the brunch had never met before, so we facilitated a fun warmup to reflexively consider and share who we were with one another. We then introduced Applied Empathy, a methodology developed by Sub Rosa that considers diverse perspectives to drive meaningful change. Each participant studied the seven empathy archetypes and self-identified as one (or more).
Personally, I most connect to the Seeker archetype: A boundless explorer, the Seeker throws caution to the wind and sets out on new adventures. Live outside your comfort zone. Act with confidence and self-assurance. Embody the Seeker when embracing new experiences and daunting challenges, knowing that your unfettered pursuits will eventually lead you to the answer.
Accommodating for a range of diets, I prepared a spread including lemon ricotta crostini w/ blistered grapes, crisp autumn salad w/ parsley + pear, almond milk chia pudding w/ raspberry cashew cream & cacao, avocado and lima mash, gluten free cardamom rum apple cake, hummus w/ crudités, and turmeric pickled eggs w/ shallots and dill.
Each participant shared the archetype they most related to and why, connecting dots across common archetypes at the table. We then dug deeper with a guided conversation to further explore the archetypes. For example, When are your archetypical traits positive or beneficial? Are there times (e.g. in the workplace) where you feel like you can’t show up as yourself? Do you feel like you exhibit different archetype at work/home/etc.? Do you think others see you as your archetype?
We then used a reflection tool from non-violent communication, which is a framework and practice that helps us identify our feelings and needs as a way to build empathy. Thinking about the archetypes and how we and others show up and see the world, the group answered these key questions: What requests do I have of myself? What requests do I have of others? Some fantastic, actionable themes surfaced, including: communication & listening, intentionality, self-awareness, engagement & sharing, finding truth & stillness, taking risks, among others!
The larger picture
Empathy, cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence, and inter-personal skills are becoming more explicitly sought after in companies, and these so-called "soft" skills are ranked among the most important for 2020, according to the World Economic Forum.
These archetypes are one way among many to create an understanding and vocabulary for the rich relationships in our lives. Through knowing ourselves more closely, understanding how unique we are, and gaining insights into the whys and hows that other people operate, we’re better able to connect and grow individually and together. We’re better able to make requests of ourselves and of others.
Participants left the brunch not only satiated, but armed with new tools, knowledge, and friendship. One participant was surprised and pleased to discover the "diversity and commonality of the NYC experience," and another struck by the overlap in individuals' needs and requests of others, feeling "less like an outlier and that I just need to keep doing more to find others with the same feelings and goals."