I've only just stumbled across the concept of Non Violent Communication (NVC), as developed my Marshall Rosenberg, thanks to this recent post by @eco-alex in which he invites people to take part in a 5 week (I think) workshop to learn more about NVC.
This post is a response to this and hopefully part of one of five interesting posts along the same theme. This is the introductory post and based on watching this 10 minute intro to NVC by Marshall Rosenberg.
NB it's worth a watch, there's a lot in here, it's very well-edited!
The general idea of NVC (As I understand it ATM) is to connect with people at the level of feelings and needs and to make the main intention of communication one of enhancing the other person's well-being, rather than merely reacting to what people say.
In the above video Rose uses the example of his work in a Palestinian refugee camp when one individual, on finding out he was an American labelled him a murderer.
Rather than responding with a typical 'hey I'm not a murderer, you shouldn't label all Americans the same' he responded with 'what kind of support would you rather be receiving from us' (or something to that effect) and thus by asking a question managed to show he was listening to his 'labeller' and showing a certain level of care for his well-being.
Rose summarises this as not necessarily listening to what is said, but rather committing to figuring out the feelings and unmet needs underneath, and once you do that, people are much more likely to listen back to you.
I'm sure there's a lot more to the concept of NVC than this, but at root, not responding to mere words that are said in anger is a useful takeaway. Rather, NVC is about seeing the human being behind name calling.
I say I've never hear of the concept, at least I've never heard of this specific manifestation of it - as a Buddhist it fits in perfectly with N8P3 (Noble Eightfold Path Aspect 3) Right Speech, which incorporates right listening and communication more generally.
Also, with almost 20 years teaching under my belt, this practice of not responding to words, but finding out the needs behind them, that's actually a professional teaching duty, that's ingrained!
In essence it's a very simple idea, potentially one of the most useful mindfulness tools there is, much harder to put into practice under pressure I imagine.
Responses to workshop questions
As part of the workshop, we have been asked to answer the following questions:
- Describe a moment that you felt deeply connected to another person.
- Where were you, and who were you with?
- What were you doing? What was the other person doing?
- What words, if any, did you express and/or hear the other person say?
- What qualities did you experience that let you know you were connecting? Be as specific and detailed as you can be.
I don't feel comfortable sharing personal examples, and TBH I don't tend to connect closely with specific others so I can't really think of any individualist examples to draw on, so here's something more general...
I'd say I feel most connected to other people when I'm working in solidarity with them.
Take the time I spent as a teacher, for example, it was easy, so easy, to connect with pretty much any other teacher on the basis of the shared experience of the stress of the job, or through the struggles of mutual students.
This is a connection not through language as such, but through sharing an experience, a situation.
Reflecting back on my teaching time, some of the most disconnected times were when I was in the pub on a Friday and certain people were just whinging on about how much they disliked certain other members of staff, especially management.
I frequently remember being in the pub at 19.00 thinking 'FFS I'm being kept in work mentally by this continual whinging'.
At that time I tried to overcome this by changing the subject, but some evenings it would always come back round to talking shop.
Having watched the video on NVC, maybe what I should have done is to have worked to bridge the gap, and brought the whinging back round to commonality, that would probably have closed the matter so we could then have 'closed shop' earlier and moved onto the evening outside of work proper!
Anyway, just a short example of how a brief 10 minute video has helped me rethink how I might have made a previous 'type of situation' more peaceful, and certainly more chilled!