Monday, January 24, 2011

Disolving the walls

Non violent communication is a four step process at it's core and so far we've covered three of them. The reason we spend more time on the first three is that without learning to observe, know your feelings and connect them to underlying needs communication can't really happen for the simple reason that we are not clear about what is really going on. Underneath our decisions, our behavior and what we like or dislike in life there are feelings and needs. Spending time to clarify what they are, learning to honestly express them and becoming curious about what is behind the others decisions, behavior, likes and dislikes is really important to opening up communication.

Because observation is the first step those who practice NVC seek to develop an acute and precise sense of what feelings and needs are present within themselves. This is crucial for the development of self-mastery because it allows you to know very quickly when your brain and body are liable to not be in the best space for decision making or communication  AKA: you are emotionally flooded or your body is in survival mode like when you are hungry or tired. Smile if you have ever regretted  a decision made when in the heat of emotions or because you were hungry or tired. Most people have.

So far so good but NVC does include the word communication so the last step Request is where we learn to dissolve the walls that so often get in the way of communication. We unfortunately live in a society where we educate mostly by punishment and positive coercion. These methods build up walls that take time to dissolve. Have you ever had the impression that we talk at each other rather than with each other? We know the difference. The rare times when we have real connection between two people the conversation flows and the energy is really fantastic but sometimes people talk for hours and everyone plays along but really no one is even interested in the topic at hand.

Learning to integrate requests into our everyday interactions might feel somewhat uncomfortable but it has powerful and very surprising benefits.  The word itself was carefully chosen. In NVC we are responsible for our needs and make a distinction between our needs and our preferred strategies for meeting those needs. It is called non violent communication because we choose to make requests rather than demands. We live in a space where there is abundant ways to meet all our needs. The best part is that by practicing the art of accepting a NO to a strategy we had our heart set on, often opens the door to getting exactly what we wanted in the first place.

In NVC we consider that there are three types of request and that the first two are really important before moving on to the last one.

1) Request for clarity: often called a reformulation, it is different ways to make sure that the other person is really hearing what you meant them to hear. For example: Could you please tell me what you heard from me? Let me see if I understand correctly? For the sake of clarity could you tell me how you understood what I just said?  Could you in a few words tell me what you got from me?

(Pierre absolutely hated when I first started making requests because I used "let me see if I understand you correctly so often! Now he uses the phrase himself at times.)

2) Request for connection: this step is about being open to really hearing how the other person feels about what was said. It is about sending the ball to them so that they can express themselves about how they relate to what you just said. For example: Can you tell me how you receive what I am saying? What is alive in you when you hear me say..? Can you tell me how this impacts you? How do you relate to what I am saying?

3) A positive and clear observable request for action that is not a coercion: Example: Can you clean up your room NOW or else vs would you be willing to put your clothes in the drawers, the plates in the kitchen and sweep the floor? When do you think this could be done by?

Try it and you might see that it can help you feel like there is real communication. I enjoy having my husband at home so it's time for me to go get him. -25 here we come!

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