Help for Helpers: Interhuman Attention and Connecting Across Significant Differences

“Interhuman attention” is a term Gene Gendlin coined...

January 11, 2021 1:15 pm


  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Language: English
  • Geographical target: Global
  • Host/Presenter:  Rosa Zubizarreta

“Interhuman attention” is a term Gene Gendlin coined to refer to a broad variety of practices, including but not limited to Focusing, that he saw as comprising the next evolutionary era of human development. Gene would point out that in the Middle Ages, during the era of feudalism, walled towns already existed; life within these towns already prefigured the next stage of human development. So he’d ask, what are the “towns” that already exist today, which embody our next stage as a society?

As Gene saw it, the seeds for those “towns” already exist in these various communities that practice some form of “interhuman attention”. Yet in order to create “the town”, he thought we needed to grow more relationships, more interconnections between these various communities. “Don’t just learn Focusing”, Gene would say, “learn a handful of different practices. And then, you can get together with a few people who know two different practices, explore useful ways that these practices can ‘cross’. Once you have that, you can start figuring out how to spread awareness about the “other” practice, in each other’s ‘home’ communities.” (I am paraphrasing here, yet the gist of this is something I heard Gene express on various occasions.)

The particular practice communities I will be talking about in this session, are ones that have been exploring how humans can work with listening and empathy to connect across significant differences. I’ll be sharing some of what I’ve learned from Dr. David Campt’s White Ally Toolkit, Cat Zavis’ Prophetic Empathy, and the work of the Braver Angels, as well as the Deep Canvassing approach created by Dave Fleischer.

While doing the work of connecting across differences can be rewarding, it can also be challenging and frustrating. Thus, it’s super helpful to have lots of opportunities for self-empathy as well as for receiving listening support from others. We’ll have an opportunity for this (and/or anything else you’d like to focus on) during the small-group time.

Signup Need help?