mindfulness, essential to skilful NVC practice

Some thought-provoking suggestions around using NVC:

  1. Intend to listen. This intention, more than all the technique in the world, is the key to communication and compassion and understanding. (I LOVE this one! K)
  2. Do not let others tell you how you feel. You are the only judge of that. Also do not attempt to tell others how they feel. If you are guessing [as suggested by the NVC process], be sure it comes across as a question. And be sure it fits into the conversation, as a substitute for active listening.
  3. Notice when people are not letting you speak. Disallowing expression is contrary to Rosenberg’s method. (Mindfulness helps with this! K)
  4. Separate moralistic judgments and delete them, but do not permit the rule of contentlessness. This is subsidiary to not letting another speak.
  5. Once you have listened well, intend to make clear, concise, positive requests. Keep your eye on this ball. Reflect on what it is you want. You may discover much violence within your request that you can root out before you even open your mouth. You may discover how to more effectively word your requests. In this way you will more likely fill your needs and offer your contributions.
  6. Notice if people do not allow you to make requests. This is the goal of someone who wishes to deflect responsibility from him or herself. If they can keep you talking about your feelings, then they do not have to participate authentically, and never have to hear your requests. Like Rosenberg suggests, focus on your need, and make requests that meet your need. If you focus on your anger, you will make yourself miserable. However, if you allow someone else to force you to continue talking interminably, especially if they are pop-psychoanalzying you, you are not getting to requests. If you are not getting to requests, you are not getting to agreements, and without agreements there will be no going forward on a basis that is more peaceful, useful, and right-relationshiped.
  7. Do not judge something non-violent simply because there is no raising of voice. Put-downs, ruination of reputation, and emotional torture are violent also.
  8. If your dear ones are more upset by your use of new techniques, study again to see if you have it right; if your friendships are damaged by the use of these new techniques, stop until you understand nonviolence or communication or their feelings better. If you are going into a room of contented people, teaching NVC, and leaving them angry, feeling disrespected, defrauded, and upset, something is wrong.
  9. Contrary to what some might read into Rosenberg, I do not think right procedure will be enough. Work not just on your tongue, nor yet on your total communication, but also on your heart/soul/inner life. Procedures cannot work optimally without right intention. Right intention is not strong and pure without purified heart. It is hardly enough to master verbal techniques to deal with insane aggressors and difficult people on your work team. Only radically changed personality structures will result in the peaceful garden for which poets have longed through the centuries.
  10. Consider the fact that not all emotions are based in need. Although many are based in bare need, some are based in ego, others in egoless giving. Refusal to admit this is the refusal to observe but instead to interpose a priori judgments.
Sarles, Sharon (September 2001). “Non-violent? Communication?: A Review of Rosenberg’s NVC Method”Southwest Facilitator’s Network (Southwest Facilitator’s Network). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication 7/4/11.

I really enjoyed reading this critique of NVC, because it approaches some issues with which I have been wrestling.

I am particularly interested in #9 (coloured red above). Since deepening my own meditation and mindfulness practice through use of MBSR, I have come to see how essential mindfulness is to the skilful practice of NVC. I now believe that the practice of mindfulness is actually a prerequisite for the skilful practice of NVC.

Mindfulness can act like an anchor, pulling one gently back to their intention, moment-to-moment. Without this, how can one recognise the purity of their needs?

It takes a hell of a lot of awareness to draw one’s self out of a place of anger and to connect in an angry moment with one’s ‘higher’ values and needs; it is much easier to move to the NVC formula and to demand that one’s need for respect, for example, be met via a quasi request. If one can mindfully recognise their ego or fear-based conditioning pushing for protection, they can choose to return to the breath, sink down into the belly or feet, imagine the anger draining out of the fingers and the soles of the feet into the earth, and in that moment, reconnect with a bare, full, non-judgemental awareness. From such a place there is much more clarity, ease, and openness with what is.

Remembering to be mindful of the lens with which one examines their life, it is possible to feel into the gut, to connect with the lens of pure being and to get out of one’s head. If the anger one finds in the gut is there because of a need for equality as a human being, for example, then one can move to #5 (above) and work on a request / strategy for getting that authentic need met.

A premise of NVC is that our feelings point to our met/unmet needs. The critical skill required to enable practitioners of NVC to truly connect with life in a non-violent way is the ability to choose a mindful lens when examining their feelings, in order to understand their needs with consciousness, and not just in light of the same old story they have been telling them-self about their life, all of their life.

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