Empathise with learnersEmpathy, Honesty and RespectSimulating active participation and motivating and empowering learnersUnderstanding and facilitating individual and group learning process

Defining empathy, honesty and respect

While training young people, youth workers and other target groups we follow a set of universal values like honesty and respect. These values are the basis of humanistic pedagogy, non-formal education. Empathy is an ability and skill which allows us to be honest and respectful in educational relationships.

Often the words of ‘empathy, honesty and respect’ are used as slogans, not grasping the essence of it. In educational settings for a trainer, it is essential to have a personal definition for these terms and be able to explain them in an understandable way.

This method will allow the trainer to reflect what do honesty and respect mean for me, especially in my line of work or the field which I advocate for. Also it will help the trainer to develop a better understanding of what empathy is and how to strengthen this skill.

Why did I choose this tool?

In training, it is important to assure the psychological safety of the participants. Skills such as sympathy and empathy are essential to understand the participants’ state of mind. Respect is important for a trainer to react in relevant manner. These skills are the basis of trainers’ professionalism.

How does this apply to being a trainer?

When working in training programs which are based on group processes, self-analysis and analysis of difficult cases e.g. EVS trainings, training courses on group dynamics, youth worker training, it is essential for the trainer to demonstrate empathy, sympathy and respect. These skills are needed to assure a deep, quality process. Only if the trainer is able to understand what the participants have experienced, he can respond correctly to the participants’ questions and reactions.

Main content:

a) Personal reflection on honesty and respect:

  1. Make a personal definition of what does “honesty and respect” mean for you?
  2. Think about why honesty and respect are important in the work of a trainer/educator.
  3. Think about what is specific about honesty and respect in the themes you work with. Why it is important? (e.g. education through sports, HRE, ecology, gender and etc.)
  4. Think of 3 examples when you were honest and respectful in your work as a trainer/educator

b) Watch these 2 videos which define what is honesty and respect:


Honesty – Tedtalk

Example of honesty in professional live video:

c) Empathy helps you to understand what the other person is experiencing. The next step will help you to understand what is the skill of ‘empathy’ and how it is different to ‘sympathy’. Watch the next video and reflect:

Empathy vs. Sympathy

Reflection questions

  1. Define for yourself what is empathy and what is sympathy
  2. Think of at least 3 situations in training when you have to be empathic. What educational goals can empathy help you to achieve?
  3. When should the trainer use sympathy? What educational goals can sympathy help the trainer to achieve?


To practice these skills in everyday life and training practice, try to name people’s emotions. Try to name how participants feel during the day, by yourself or together with a colleague trainer. Check in the reflection of the day, by asking the participants how they felt during the day.
Same would be done with a friend or with colleagues.

Author of the article: Nerjus Miginis

In the last decade has contributed to youth work development in Lithuania by co-designing the youth worker certification system, running pilot youth worker trainings, making analysis of youth work implementation in Lithuania (2015). Nerijus has done work in the field of participation, community development and promotion of democracy for the Active Citizens program by the British Council in Lithuania, the CoE Committee of Regions in Ukraine, the Vestfold-Telemark county and NAV in Norway. For the last decade Nerijus is conducting training courses for educators on non-formal education, value education through sport in cooperation with the Lithuanian National Olympic committee (LTOK) and other Institutions. Nerijus is co-founder and expert at the Institute for Policy Research and Analysis in Lithuania. He as a master’s degree in Education Sciences from the University of Vilnius.

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Editor: Donatas Petkauskas

is professional supervisor, coach and experiential learning trainer, having more than 15 years of experience in consulting various organizations and individuals, creating and conducting training course on national and international levels. Donatas has extensive experience in non-formal education, training of youth workers and trainers. He is working in the field of non-formal education since 2003, since 2004 he is a member of trainers pool of Lithuanian National Agency (currently an alumni).

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Adapted from Lithuanian youth worker certification training materials, Module No.3 “Individual youth work”Photo by Zach Savinar on Unsplash

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