Think back to the last time you wanted something so badly.
But because of someone, you didn’t get it.
It may be the colleague at work who never listens.
Or a family member who never seems to understand.
How did you feel then?
Perhaps you had long conversations with yourself. Replaying that scenario. For hours at end.
Maybe you’re replaying that scene now.
Did you find yourself judging and blaming the person standing in your way?
That how much of it is their fault.
I have found myself in the above and other similar situations, multiple times a day.
I react by bottling my feelings. Putting a stopper to my emotions.
There’s a raging river, a blazing volcano, inside of me.
But all that appears on my face, is a weak smile.
I feel hypocritical.
Is there a way that I can be sincere and genuine, not simply nice.
Is there a way I can express myself honestly without sparking a verbal and emotional war?
This has been my quest for decades. I had come across several methodologies to help have difficult conversations or manage emotions. But they were either too complicated, unreal or something about them seriously missing.
Finally, in a stray comment at a conversation, somebody mentioned Marshall Rosenberg’s, Non-Violent Communication or NVC.
Since then I’ve begun my journey to connecting compassionately.
On this voyage, I have had many successful conversations and experiences where I have met my needs while meeting needs of others as well.
So, what is Non-Violent communication? How does it work?
What is Non-Violent Communication or NVC?
I realised that I’m in my infancy when I communicate. I assess others. Judge them and label them. Without disclosing to them my own feelings and without daring to express my true self.
In NVC, we learn how to reprogram the way we express ourselves.
Expressing one’s truth while respecting others and respecting oneself.
Once that has been done, there comes the joy of being closer to others and closer to ourselves.
The end purpose here is encounters, true encounters between human beings. No interference from our fears. No games. No masks.
Wouldn’t that be really something!
How does it work?
To arrive at one’s authentic self, at a conflict situation, there are four steps that are helpful to get there.
Step 1: Observation
The first step involves objectively Observing the situation. Without evaluation, blame or judgment.
Step 2: Feelings
The second step is identifying the feelings that the situation brings up.
Step 3: Needs
The third is to dig deeper to identify what need is or is not being met.
Step 4: Request
Finally, what action would you Request that would better meet your needs.
Could you share an example?
For example, saying the word No is difficult for many of us.
Suppose you would like to say “NO” to additional responsibility.
But this comes from people who love you and those whom you love. What do you do?
If I’m not steeped in NVC or compassionate consciousness, I would not know what else to do. I would take up the responsibility with a huge burden of guilt and resentment.
But if I’m Present and Connected with my Needs, I could say something like:
“When I hear your request for me to take up this task, I feel really confused.
On one hand I would really like to contribute in this task and help out.
On the other hand I feel really stressed and overwhelmed and don’t have the mental space right now.
For the moment I would really need some space to manage the tasks I have in hand so that I can do justice to them.
Could I take that task for you after I complete some of my present commitments?”
Below is a break up of the Observation, Feeling, Need and Request of the above statement:
“When I hear your request for me to take up this task (Observation), I feel really confused. (Feeling)
On one hand I would really like to contribute in this task and help out. (Need for Contribution).
On the other hand I feel really stressed and overwhelmed and don’t have the bandwidth right now. (Feeling)
For the moment I would really need some space to manage the tasks I have in hand so that I can do justice to them. (Need for Space).
Could I take that task for you after I complete some of my present commitments? (Request)“
Isn’t that such a humane way to connect?
How is NVC different from other methods?
Perhaps the biggest reason why NVC is effective compared to other methodologies is that it is immensely more than a mere “method” or “technique”.
As you can see above, while there are “steps” and a “technique” to it, those can be incidental.
At its core, NVC is a “change of consciousness”. And that’s what the above steps are trying to bring about. Once you embody the consciousness of compassion and connection, the techniques and method are superfluous
Where can one learn more?
There are umpteen NVC resources online. A Google search for Non-Violent Communication or Marshall Rosenberg will provide you with a lifetime of learning.
To get you started, my favourite NVC resources are:
How to give yourself “Self-Empathy
A 12-minute video excerpt of a workshop. Marshall explains how you never EVER have to worry about how a person responds. And what you can do about it.
Marshall Rosenberg – NVC Roleplay
A lovely 10-minute brief role-play that demonstrates all the NVC principles at work.
Marshall Rosenberg – San Francisco workshop
This is my all time favourite NVC resource. It’s a 3-hour workshop of Marshall teaching NVC. This video is so full of wisdom. I learn something new, each time I listen to it. But that’s the case with any of Marshall’s material.
Nonviolent communication – the book
The Nonviolent Communication Book is deep and enriching. It’s sold over a million copies and endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins and several others. A highly-recommended read.
At ILM Montessori, we’ve begun our journey to deeper Non-Violent Communication. NVC Trainer Ranijtha Jeurkar took us through a day long training with games, exercises, role-plays on communicating compassionately.
There were insights and aha’s galore throughout our training.
We have a long way to go. However, we’ve taken our first step.
Here are some memories of our training.