As I wrote in my previous post, I love exploring new ideas and I take every opportunity that presents its self to learn something new. What I also love, is to share what I learn with others. So here is my new point of interest.
Few weeks ago I was introduced to Non Violent Communication, NVC, through a friend. She had always wanted to take an NVC course but it never happened, so she organized for a group of people to take a virtual introductory course. I didn’t know much about NVC but it sounded interesting enough to commit to. The course is a very basic one, and only 4 2-hours sessions.Unfortunately, I will miss the last one, but what I learned in the first three sessions is invaluable and fascinatingly simple.
Here is what I learned according to the materials presented. (This is my personal reflection, for more information about NVC go here)
Self Connection is the foundation to Connect
It all come back to connecting to ourselves and our bodies. What we hear every time we get on a plane, turns out to be one of the best advices in life! “Put your mask on first, then help others”
I can’t truly connect to others if I don’t know and feel what is going on inside me. In a beautiful illustration by NVC, Tree of Life, the roots and truck of the communication tree is self connection, from that the branches of empathy and self expression grow.
My behavior is stimulated by what my need/s is/are at that moment.
There are universal basic needs that all of us need, and when these needs are not met, we come up with strategies to get those needs. What I learned is that when we are not in touch with what need we are striving to get, we get lost in the strategies.
For example, the need to connect with other people is a basic human need, I can find many strategies to have this need met, while the other person I’m wanting to connect with, also have many strategies to meet that same need. In other words, we can both want the same thing but are focused on different ways to get them. Needs are universal and abstract, they are not linked to person, location or action.
Feelings vs. Non-feelings
So many books and modalities encourage us to express our feelings, but this is the first time that I can clearly see and understand the distinction between feelings and non-feelings. I have used the words accepted, insulted, taken for granted, or betrayed. While I thought I was expressing my feelings, what those words really say, “Someone did something to me and now I feel this way, I blame them for how I feel”. There is a difference between saying, “I feel hurt that I was not included in the conversation” and “I feel ignored”. The first states my feeling, the second implies that someone on purpose ignored me. On the receiving end, the first statement will bring my attention to how this person is feeling, while the second can get me quickly to a defense mode of “ I didn’t ignore you”. NVC asks me to own my experiences and take responsibility regarding what I feel, there is no blaming others.
I can’t claim to have understood and processed everything I received, but what I know to be true is that I want to continue to understand and practice the communication skills presented by NVC.
Here are some of the skills NVC offers.
From NVC website
NVC offers practical, concrete skills for manifesting the purpose of creating connections of compassionate giving and receiving based in a consciousness of interdependence and power with others. These skills include:
- Differentiating observation from evaluation, being able to carefully observe what is happening free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us;
- Differentiating feeling from thinking, being able to identify and express internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment;
- Connecting with the universal human needs/values (e.g. sustenance, trust, understanding) in us that are being met or not met in relation to what is happening and how we are feeling; and
- Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we don’t want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving).
These skills emphasize personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others, as well as how to contribute to relationships based in cooperation and collaboration.
Here is a short video summarizing the Non Violent Communication book