Friday, December 30, 2011

everyone wins

It's almost January and my new years resolution is to write more so here I am again sitting at the computer to take a few moments and reflect on how I can contribute to the world I want.

I had an awesome chance a few days ago to be a dance competition judge for a group of 8 girls (9 if you count my Evelyn) at a pj party. At first I was pleased to be asked and very much enjoyed watching the joy and abandon with which this group of 5 to 8 year olds took to the dance floor. Then came the moment when the girls asked me Who won? the top 3? who was the best? For a moment I panicked not knowing what to do. Everyone of the girls had put her soul into the show and all wanted to have the merit of being the best.

I felt tension and ill at ease and questions flashed in my mind: How do you live life in a collaborative non violent way where we get beyond the drive to categorize and compete when small children ask you to put them on a scale and judge them for their performance? And beyond that how do you honor their genuine desire to have feedback about how they are doing? We tried doing away with grades in schools and it was a failure because human beings need feedback, crave it, ask for it and ultimately benefit from having an honest idea of how they are doing with regards to learning a new skill.  

I was really happy to have at my disposal after a few moments of panic a way to respond. In NVC consicousness we give feedback by describing what we enjoyed about what we saw, how the performance met my needs. So I chose to tell each girl what I liked about her performance (I liked how you moved around the floor, I enjoyed your smile while you danced, you really understand rythym, wow what a great move that was, you danced well with the others) and the reward was 8 girls smiling and happy who continued to come up with ways to enjoy their PJ party. (luckily the neighbors in my friends apartment were not there!!!)

I recently finished my third year of training in Non violent communication and i realized that giving feedback is important and that how you do it has an impact. I've had the opportunity to give feedback in the past to adults and sometimes to kids in a one to one basis but this was the first time I had the chance to see the fruit of choosing to do it this way in a group. The girls all kept dancing and I could see that each one was paying attention to the element I had pointed out that I enjoyed and incorporating it more into her next dance. When the question of judging their performance came up I feared that choosing one girl above the others would cause them to abandon the game which would have been sad because the sheer pleasure of dancing up a storm and learning about your body when you are a child is magic like no other.

I wish everyone one of my readers many such PJ party moments in 2012.