When many people first learn NVC (Nonviolent Communication), they become so enthusiastic about the possibilities they see unfolding, that they immediately try to put it to use everywhere. Often enough, the results can be disastrous, such that other people become deeply suspicious of NVC. Here is a sample of what people often hear from others in such circumstances:
"It's like I've got a complete stranger staying in my house."
"Don't use this NVC thing on me."
"What happened to you? Can't you speak normal?"
"You sound so clinical."
"Why can't you just be honest with me and tell me what's really going on with you?"
The fundamental issue happening here, as I see it, is that people fall in love with what NVC can bring to their lives and to the world, while attributing that miracle to the language used rather than to the consciousness shift that precedes the choice of words. As a result, they use the language in their interactions with others instead of seeing it as a practice tool designed to support integration of principles and to facilitate
navigation of difficult moments with mutual consent. Because of how challenging that distinction between the language and the underlying consciousness is, I want to carefully unpack this paradox.
Aiming for Integration
Almost everyone I've come in contact with sees and experiences the immediate power of NVC when used by an experienced person who is calm and present in the moment of using it. Even people who would otherwise vehemently disagree with the premises of NVC, especially with the idea of transcending right/wrong thinking completely, derive immediate benefit from being heard. However, getting to the level of mastery that allows such presence and
fluidity to emerge requires something far beyond facility with a certain template of speech (pdf). Until this integration happens, the gap between the words and the consciousness is likely to show up as lack of authenticity, which is a big piece of what's annoying to people.
Two factors combine to create this gap. One is the awkwardness of using a new and unfamiliar form of speech. Trying out something new, especially if there is any tension with another person, is highly likely to bring about self-consciousness and discomfort. Having such discomfort and then hiding it, as we are wont to do, immediately shows up as inauthenticity. Any hiding of visible discomfort does.
The other aspect of the gap derives more directly from the difference between our words and our thoughts. If we use empathic words while judging another person, or make something look like a request when it's really a demand, we create inner tension. The empathic words or our request is likely to carry with it the tension, in our body's movements and posture and in our tone of voice. Add to this our habitual preoccupation with "doing it
right", and the possibility of connection diminishes even as we are trying to forge a more satisfying level of connection that we have seen work.
"Postpone result/solution thinking until later; it's
through connection that solutions materialize - empathy before education."
~Marshall B. Rosenberg
Say What You Mean: A Jewish Buddhist's Key to Nonviolent Communication
The American-raised son of an Israeli, author Oren Jay Sofer found spirituality later in life and has now written the book on how our universal human needs can help us connect
Published on The Times of Israel
Raised a Reform Jew in the Northern New Jersey suburbs, meditation and communication teacher Oren Jay Sofer found his way to spiritual practice only as a young adult in his 20s. His path followed a series of failed romantic relationships, lost friendships, and his parents’ divorce. Sofer didn’t connect spiritually to Judaism as a child and young adult. And while he and his mother would have deep, spiritually minded conversations in his
youth, it wasn’t until much later, after studying comparative religion at Columbia University, that he would discover and explore the mystical aspects of Judaism.
“In a different time, I might have been a rabbi,” said Sofer, now 41 and a practicing Buddhist. He’s also a certified trainer of Nonviolent Communication, as well as a somatic experiencing practitioner for healing trauma. “But that’s not the form my spirituality takes. I consider myself culturally and ethnically Jewish, but I’m not a practicing Jew in terms of religion.”
As he shares in his new book, “Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication,” Sofer originally turned to meditation as a way of sorting out some of his “inner turmoil.”
"However impressed we may be with NVC concepts, it is
only through practice and application that our lives are transformed."
~Marshall B. Rosenberg
How to Have Difficult Conversations
Published on openDemocracy.net
Campaigners aren’t known for being contemplative. By definition they are trying to change something beyond themselves, and the stereotype of an outgoing extrovert with a megaphone exists because in part, it’s true. That kind of campaigning attracts admiration and often appears as the visible face of change. But what if collective introspection made us into better campaigners by improving our ability to listen and learn, especially from
those we disagree with?
Who we interact with, and how, have became urgent concerns for campaigners, as opinions become more polarised around us. The challenge of reaching people we don’t agree with is especially important at a time when the far right is mainstreamed by the media and inciting hatred is a regular activity among presidents and other elected politicians. The challenge is both personal and political – what are the tools we need to disagree
For the past 15 years the Campaigning Forum (ECF) has functioned as a good example of the kind of space we need to promote long-term community building on the basis of cooperation and openness. Set up by Duane Raymond to encourage campaigners to share experiences as the digital sphere opened up (before social media!), ECF has expanded in reach and yet remained a close-knit community, providing an ecosystem of support that ranges from the
technical to the emotional, where peers support not-knowing and where it is safe to ask for help.
At a recent ECF gathering Rosie Carter of HOPE Not Hate presented her experience of how we might approach an increasingly divisive political landscape. She was one of the organisers of the National Conversation on Immigration in the UK, which set out to answer the question, ‘just how divided are we, and how do we build bridges?’ Carter ‘walked the talk’ by travelling around the country to listen to people express their feelings and
opinions. Although she found many people she didn’t agree with and had lots of difficult conversations, she also came away hopeful that a growing majority exists that is ‘open and tolerant.’
As this graphic shows there’s a lot of concern and ambivalence on immigration around which genuine conversations could be shaped, but campaigners will have to put more energy into engagement and understanding in order to be useful in this task. We have to listen to and respect views we might disagree with, and seek to find out why people hold the views they do without expecting that our own convictions will automatically sway them, so how
can we learn to do this effectively?
After Rosie spoke I offered a peer session on ‘how to have difficult conversations,’ and the room filled with campaigners keen to share experiences. Drawing on sociocracy, a governance model made for power sharing and active listening, we sat in a circle, spoke in rounds, and I asked them to check in with themselves, identify bodily sensations and then express how they were feeling. The level of trust and safety that the group developed in
minutes is not at all usual, and is a testament to the long-term trust that ECF builds for participants.
Google has spent millions of dollars proving that trust is the bedrock of constructive communication. They wanted to know why their best teams succeeded, and after not being able to prove any of their assumptions and going back to observe those teams, they found that what they had in common was not personality or intelligence or confidence or prior success, but something they called ‘psychological safety.’ That’s the kind of safety that’s
built on feeling able to be real and vulnerable in a group, not competing with your peers, and being encouraged to learn from failure collectively.
These vids meet my needs for honesty and vulnerability.
NVC at the UN with Alan Seid
I hope this email finds you well.
Some of you know that I was recently invited to speak at the United Nations on NVC.
This was in the context of a larger event titled "Unlocking Your Emotions to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals" — which brought together presenters from the fields of Mindfulness, Emotional Intelligence, and NVC.
In case you are curious or interested, here are some resources to my presentation:
* PuddleDancer Press donated 500 copies of NVC 3rd Ed to all the UN attendees
"To practice NVC, it's critical for me to be able to slow down, take my time, to
come from an energy I choose, the one I believe that we were meant to come from, not the one I was programmed into. I start the day with a remembering of where I want to be."
~Marshall B. Rosenberg
The Art of Mindful Communication: Live Your Values (Talk-It-Out Radio)
The Art of Mindful Communication: Living Your Values In these extraordinarily polarized times, what would it be like if people could truly hear others and speak their minds in a clear, kind way, without becoming defensive or going on the attack? Join Talk It Out Radio’s host and Oren Jay Sofer, meditation teacher and communication trainer, the author of a new book,
“Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication.” for an engaging conversation about Oren’s work and new book.
Oren’s book is the first to synthesize mindfulness, somatic practices and Nonviolent Communication into simple, yet powerful exercises for healthier, more effective, and satisfying conversation. Whether it’s navigating a political divide with a friend or relative, managing conflicts at work, or strengthening bonds at home—communicating effectively is what makes or breaks our relationships. Say What You Mean offers a clear method, concrete practices, and the vocabulary needed to have meaningful
conversations that bring people together.
Oren Jay Sofer teaches meditation and communication nationally. A member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, he holds a degree in Comparative Religion from Columbia University, is a Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication, Senior Program Developer at Mindful Schools, and a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner for trauma healing. Oren is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication. Learn more at www.OrenJaySofer.com.
Book Review Marshall Rosenberg Nonviolent Communication, a language of life
"Anger is a signal that you're distracted by judgmental or punitive thinking,
and that some precious need of yours is being ignored. "
~Marshall B. Rosenberg
Inspirational, Fun and Other Good Stuff
Compassion in Action
When Karen Armstrong visited Vancouver for 12 Days of Compassion, she brought with her a very powerful message: we all have the tools to make this world a more compassionate place. On March 27, she spoke in front of an audience of students and adults and shared some of her 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life. Take a look and tell us if you've found ways to bring these lessons into your
Conceived by Meiji Stewart - Illustrator David Blasidell
"Hurt People Hurt People"
Two newsletters ago I asked if anyone knew the complete quote and source of ‘Hurt People Hurt People’
Many thanks to Jane Reinoso who replied and said-
"Hurt people hurt people. That's how the pain gets passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future."
Attributed to Yehuda Berg
a byline at a the bottom also gives credit to GoodTherapy.org, who may have more information, if you need it.
Marcus Aurelius on Embracing Mortality and the Key to Living with Presence
(not NVC-just something I thought you might value reading: )"
“When you realize you are mortal you also realize the tremendousness of the future. You fall in love with a Time you will never perceive,” the great Lebanese poet, painter, and philosopher Etel Adnan wrote in her beautiful meditation on time, self, impermanence, and transcendence. It is a sentiment of tremendous truth and simplicity, yet tremendously difficult for the mind to metabolize — we
remain material creatures, spiritually sundered by the fact of our borrowed atoms, which we will each return to the universe, to the stardust that made us, despite our best earthly efforts. Physicist Alan Lightman contemplated this paradox in his lyrical essay on our longing for permanence in a universe of constant change: “It is one of the profound contradictions of human existence that we long for immortality, indeed fervently believe that something must be unchanging and permanent, when all
of the evidence in nature argues against us.”
"NVC requires us to be continually conscious of the beauty within ourselves and
~Marshall B. Rosenberg
June 2019 Book Specials
NVC (Newly Published) Book!
Collaborating in the Workplace Collaborating in the Workplace A Guide for Building Better Teams
Regular Price: $7.95
Sale Price: $3.95
by Ike Lasater (Author), Julie Stiles (Editor)
Collaborating in the Workplace arms readers with tips to help teams collaborate and create more powerful outcomes. Focusing on the key skills necessary for effective collaboration, along with practical exercises to help improve these skills, the goal of this informative volume is to encourage the creation of connections that lead to powerful communication and better results. The authors cover such
topics as: how stress impacts daily interactions; ways of listening that create a deeper understanding and connection with others; preparing for, practicing, and learning from difficult conversations; tricky workplace communication issues that tend to trip people up, such as interrupting, giving feedback, and being clear about requests. With step-by-step exercises and guidelines for practice, readers can learn the skills necessary to make any team work better together.
Stay Connected to the Values of Compassion With the Free 366 Daily Peaceful Living Meditations. Read one sample
Day 154: Meeting Our Need for Rest
I was astounded to discover that a friend of mine renews herself by being with people. She feels more restful and relaxed when she is with people than when she is alone. I, on the other hand, meet my need for rest when
I am alone and quiet. I spend much of my work life listening and talking with people, which I enjoy very much. However, when the day is done, I need a little quiet time to myself. How much quiet time I need and how much time with other people my friend needs depend on how depleted we are in the moment. We all have different ways to meet our need for rest. The important thing is to notice when we need that time. You might know you need rest when you find yourself snapping at people on the phone,
when you snap at your cat, or when you ignore your partner. Rather than behave in ways that you might regret, consider doing something that will help you meet your need for rest. Everyone in your life will benefit. Be aware today of times when you have a need for rest, and do something to help you meet it.
The body does not lie - Martha Graham
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