I haven’t posted about NVC in a while... but today is the day! Why? Simply because NVC has to be one of the greatest communication methods that i have every witnessed. Its ability to hone in on the real issue, and bypass almost all of the difficulties in conflict resolution. Maybe you are familiar with circular conversations, anger, not feeling heard, or general unproductive conversations with some people. Usually it is the people that we care about most that we can have the hardest time communicating clearly with, because it is the people we love the most that we let in to our hearts and minds, and they can hurt us the most as well. I would like to share a story of what has happened with a conflict i have had this past week with a woman I will just call V who has been staying with me. I want to share about how difficult it was to communicate, and how NVC helped to bring us back together just before she left for good. If we only all knew how to listen, what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to phrase sentences in a none violent manner.. the world would be a totally different place!
V approached me a month ago as she had broken up with her boyfriend whom she was staying with. Suddenly she had nowhere to stay and urgently needed a roof over her head! She has been staying with some friends but really needed her own space. I knew her a little bit already and so i agreed to let her stay in the Geodome that i have just built. Rather than charge her any money I explained that she could stay for exchange for help with the land. There is a lot to do and i really need the help. I did not specify any exact detail about how much help i needed, and preferred to let her decide what was an appropriate exchange. She agreed, and moved in almost right away.
The only thing was, the geodome was not ready yet, and so i let V stay in the yurt with me for around three weeks. I shared my space with her, and did what i could to make feel comfortable. I was aware of her need for space, and did my best to get the geodome finished as quickly as possible. In the meantime we hung out a lot and had a really fantastic connection and time together. Despite being in a very small space for so long, we both really enjoyed each others company and we had fun playing music, talking ,cooking and eating good food and generally passing the time well.
Three weeks passed and finally the geodome was ready, and V moved in. After one more week had passed it became apparent to me that she hadn't really had the time or energy to help out on the land much at all. Most of the time she did spend helping was with things that she wanted to do, rather than things that we really needed or important.. such as painting a beautiful bird and scenery on her compost toilet, and making a spiral garden with stones. She also gave quite a lot in terms of her energy and other lovely surprise gifts such as some clothes and a painting for my shrine which was looking quite bare! I realised that we would need to talk so that i could explain to her that the exchange was not really happening in terms of what i would have like to see. Whilst i didn’t have any specific expectations, i did want to see more than around 10 hours of work over the entire month. I had given her space to adjust and deal with the difficult emotions relating to her breakup and starting her life again.
Then one day around a week ago things started to get challenging! We have an issue on the land whereby the neighbours dog has been visiting us and taking some of our clothes that were hanging up to dry. It was quite annoying and we had to keep searching the area for them after the dogs had finished playing with them. V came to me and said that she wanted to go and speak to the neighbour about it to see what could be done. I was not comfortable with this idea since i knew straight away that there was nothing really that he could do, other than tie them up on a rope. These dogs were past being controllable, and were his guard dogs to protect his many sheep, goats, chickens and other animals. They were free, perhaps too much so! I explained to V that i felt it was our responsibility to protect our land and personal items, and didn’t want to put this on him.. especially since just a few weeks ago i had visited him to complain about a dog he had tied up all day and night. It used to bark none stop and after my complaint he was very good about it and agree to move the dog the next day.
V got quite upset about this, and was also having quite an emotional day due to other happenings in her life. A few minutes later she came to me quite angry and told me that she agree and very casually slipped into a sentence that she was going to leave soon and then proceeded to finish talking about how hard it had been for her not having space.
I became enraged, and rather than explode at her i left my yurt and went outside, threw a table over and sat down on a bench to try to cool down. I wasn’t even sure why i had reacted to intensely and told her that i needed time before i could talk with her about it any further.
It took me two days to center myself and try to understand why this had upset me so much. In the end i think it was mainly because i had done so much for her over the course of three weeks, and i felt quite disrespected and unappreciated that she would not only so casually tell me she was leaving, but also did so in anger and with judgement about some of the decisions i had made. I was also very aware that she had not really done much to help me in the ways i wanted, and began to feel quite unsafe and threatened because her desires and feelings were often shared in an aggressive, judgemental and blaming way. I knew she needed space, but i was of course unable to provide it until the geodome was ready. All in all i was also really upset, and i messaged her that i felt it would be better if she found another place to live. It was a hard decision but i felt very unsafe being judged and verbally put down for many things. More importantly it was clear that she did not really want to spend much time helping on the land which was my main need for this exchange.
So, three days later we agreed to talk.. we had tried to share a few words before that and it didn’t go well. Therefore we both agreed to share our feelings using NVC, to try to get through this conflict. In fact we spoke three about this over the next two days. The first time we spoke, V was able to share why she had reacted that way, and why she said she wanted to leave. It was a very pleasant surprise to hear her speak only about her needs and feelings, rather than to speak about me, what i had done wrong or done to upset her. This made that particular conversation much easier and i quickly understood why she was so upset. In fact it didn’t have much at all to do with what i said, but was more about her needing space and time to settle in..
I understood and i was happy that the conversation had gone so well. I didn’t not mention that i still wanted her to leave, and felt it would be better to wait a few days for things to settle before i told her that i still wanted that to happen. Two more days passed, still with almost no help from her, and then on the second day a mutual friend of ours let her know that i was still wanting her to leave. I told him this whilst we were texting, and he then told her. V therefore asked me if we could speak again, and i agreed. I wanted to let her know that i still wanted her to go, and also wanted to speak with her about the exchange as i was not satisfied with it.
She asked me immediately whether I still wanted her to leave. I confirmed it and explained that there were a few reasons why i was no longer comfortable with the arrangement. It didn’t go down well, and she asked me to explain why i still wanted her to go after we had talked the first time and it went so well. I responded that there were a few reasons, and started by explaining that the exchange was not happening as i had wanted. This upset her as i hadn’t ever specified how much help i wanted to exchange. Fair enough really, so i explained that i was not upset about that and just wanted to make the arrangement a bit more specific. I told her very clearly indeed that the exchange was a small issue compared to the next issue i had, and that i realised we had not made any clear timings or understanding.
V didn’t seem to be taking this well, and suddenly got Very upset and stood up and left the geodome. She was shouting about a few things that i could not understand and so i went outside to continue talking. It was clear that i had hit a sore nerve but i did not understand her reaction.
I proceeded to explain that it was not that big an issue, and that there was an even more important issue to me. I asked her if i could proceed to tell her, and she said i could. I then explained to her that it was very important to feel safe. I felt that the way she judged me, and some of the things she said made me feel quite threatened.. and i was Very upset with the way she so casually said she was going to leave whilst criticising me for how i wanted to handle the neighbours dog. This was my land, and i felt it is my right to deal with my neighbours in the most appropriate way.
This made things even worse, and it was clear that we would have to stop talking.. V accused me of trying to manipulate her, and even complained that i had bought her so much stuff she did not even want!She was referring to furniture and items i need to buy for anyone to live in the geodome. They were not really just for her. When i asked her for an example of how i was manipulating her she could not provide one. I felt butt hurt and sorely misunderstood! We both agreed to stop talking and i went back to the yurt feeling quite horrible. I felt that V was unable to honour my needs, and i felt very judged. V also felt like her needs were not being met, but she was so upset that the words she used were more about me, what i had done wrong, rather than about her specific needs.
When i got back to the yurt we had several voice message exchanges... but quite different to the way we had spoken in person. Somehow it seemed easier to speak by leaving messages. Finally we were again speaking about our needs! V shared with me again about her intense need for space, and that since she didn’t have the space she needed it made it hard for her to naturally give her time and energy to the land. She was basically freaking out inside for most of the time, and i did not truly realise the intensity of it for her.
So now we were again thinking and relating things to our needs and actions and suddenly we were able to make some progress! V shared with me that:
" Thats why i think i happened that i said the sentence that hurt you so much, that i was leaving to get more space. I think it was my attempt to get space, but it was not the right attempt. but i think t came totally from this need, so i just would love you to understand this and that it didn’t have anything to do with you as a person. It was not a try to hurt you somehow, it was a try from my side to fulfil my need, but in a stupid desperate way,. Does that make any sense to you?"
W>O>W .. This folks is NVC in action! Right here is the gold! You see, if we are used to thinking in an NVC way we stop blaming others, and start thinking about our feelings and needs. Almost all of our conflicts arise because of a need that is not being fulfilled. If we are not used to speaking in terms of feelings and needs then we may totally miss this! It takes knowing how to direct our thoughts to understand ourselves! V was thankfully able to look at her situation again and come up with some very clear and understandable reasons why she had said and done the things she had done. Compare that to how things went we she instead accused me of manipulating her or buying her shit she does need?!
Now that V had identified her need for space, and understood very clearly why she was to upset and unhappy she was able to understand her own feelings and actions. That meant that she no longer need to accuse me or blame me for anything,., Instead it was clear and she was able to share those reasons with me. That in turn made me much more sympathetic, and i was happy to keep communicating with her.
Things were not all finished yet though and we had one more chat face to face.. a much deeper and fulfilling chat! >There were several things that i had said to her that were not clear, and were also quite judgemental. I used the wrong words as well in my anger and had told her that i was not comfortable with the way she was. What i really meant is that i was not comfortable with some of the things she SAID. Since i had chosen the wrong words to use i had hurt V deeply since she felt that i was judging her entire character and way of being. She also shared how hard it is to hear any criticism and that she needed to work on her self love.
I head that, and apologised. I then gave her HUGE assurance that i was only referring to certain things she had said, and that generally speaking i love her character and how she was! This seemed to help a lot, and she cried a little quite deeply. It seems my careless use of words had hurt her very deeply indeed, and now we had been able to speak again that weight had been lifted from her. I gave her a comforting hug and suddenly things felt OK again.
This is a kind of magic really. NVC has given us the path and tools for us to communicate in such a simple and clear way. It bypasses so much anger, blame, and basically totally unproductive communication that actually does more damage than harm.
V was able to speak with NVC because fortunately she was already familiar with it, and i had spent several hours teaching her about. She needed help with it at first because she was having to deal with difficult conversations with her x boyfriend. Vera learned in just a few hours the basic concepts of NVC. It really can be that easy to turn your communication around 180 degrees. This is probably the best investment in time that you could make in my opinion, and will surely save you many more hours of conflict.. and many days, weeks, and months in emotional pain!
If you would like to learn more about the basics of NVC i will share some words i have written in a previous workshop post i had made!
Are you tired of having the same arguments with your friends and family, and never really getting anything resolved? Do your children not listen to you or rebel against everything you say or just keep saying "Whatever"? Would you like to learn the most powerful way I know to almost instantly change the dynamics and resolve conflicts that you may have been having for years? Then please read on and discover what Non Violent Communication is really all about, and learn practical tips and knowledge that will empower you to take control of conflicts without needing the other person to do anything differently. They will act differently quite naturally, once you understand and learn how to speak the new language of The Giraffe!
If you are interested in this, but don’t have much time then this four week long journey is for you! There are many online courses available, and one of the best ones, although free to start, takes SO much time to read all their materials and do all their exercises and journalling every day that most people just can't get into it. Therefore I am doing this simple version to make it possible to share with you the real core essence of NVC on Steem, without all that detail and information to deal with!
There will be a bit of reading each week, not too much, and then a simple exercise or some REALLY simple questions to answer. Most of the time these questions are your training time, where you can learn about the process of how to speak effectively. There are four pillars to NVC, and each each week we will look at one of them. The pillars (components) are Observations, Feelings, Needs, and Requests. When we can understand what these four pillars are, and how to work with them you will be ready to start changing your life and your relationships in truly magical ways!
To get you all in the mood, and whet your appetite I would like to explain a bit more about NVC to you right now, call it an introduction. If you are ready to start with us then you can also watch the short 10 minute movie and do the first exercise below. If you are reading this and are feeling like this is the perfect time for you to pick this up, and would like to put much more time and go very deep into it then you can also try the complete course on-line, free for 30 days. You can find this course at https://nvctraining.com.
NVC is a new paradigm for communication
Most of us are hungry for skills that can improve the quality of our relationships, to deepen our sense of personal empowerment or simply help us communicate more effectively. Unfortunately, most of us have been educated from birth to compete, judge, demand and diagnose; to think and communicate in terms of what is "right" and "wrong" with people. At best, the habitual ways we think and speak hinder communication and create misunderstanding and frustration. And still worse, they can cause anger and pain, and may lead to violence. Without wanting to, even people with the best of intentions generate needless conflict. NVC helps us reach beneath the surface and discover what is alive and vital within us, and how all of our actions are based on human needs that we are seeking to meet. We learn to develop a vocabulary of feelings and needs that helps us more clearly express what is going on in us, and understand what is going on it others, at any given moment. When we understand and acknowledge our needs, we develop a shared foundation for much more satisfying relationships. Join the thousands of people worldwide who have improved their relationships and their lives with this simple yet revolutionary process. Marshall Rosenberg provides us with the most effective tools to foster health and relationships. Non-violent Communication connects soul to soul . . . It is the missing element in what we do. - Deepak Chopra, author, How to Know God and Ageless Body, Timeless Mind
Non-violent Communication has two parts and four components. These are the tools that help us communicate more effectively. Once you are familiar with these tools and how to use them, you will be in a position to shift your communication dramatically.
NVC is based on natural giving and allowing our needs to be met.
- All human beings share the same needs
- Our world offers sufficient resources for meeting everyone's basic needs
- All actions are attempts to meet needs
- Feelings point to needs being met or unmet
- All human beings have the capacity for compassion
- Human beings enjoy giving
- Human beings meet needs through interdependent relationships
- Human beings change
- The most direct path to peace is through self-connection
What is NVC?
While NVC is much more than a communication model, the components below provide a structural concept of the process that leads to giving and receiving from the heart. NVC means honestly expressing how I am and what I would like without using blame, criticism or demands AND Empathetically Receiving how another is and what he/she would like without hearing blame, criticism or demands.
Whether expressing or receiving, NVC focuses our attention on four pieces of information:
Observations — Objectively describing what is going on without using evaluation, moralistic judgment, interpretation or diagnosis.
Feelings — Saying how you feel (emotions and body sensations) about what you have observed without assigning blame .
Needs —The basic human needs that are or not being met and are the source of feelings.
Requests — Clear request for actions that can meet needs
Next week in our first part, we will start our journey and learn about Observation and how to observe without judgement. Observations are simply the facts of a situation, what you heard someone say or what you saw someone do, without adding any evaluations or judgments. This is such an important concept to understand, because many people are judging people or evaluating other people's behaviour instead of just communicating what they actually saw. This is often the very start of getting 'off on the wrong foot', and usually leads to conflict.
- Punishment is the root of violence on our planet.
- Classifying and judging people promotes violence.
- Fear of punishment diminishes self-esteem and goodwill.
- At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs.
- People do not hear our pain when they believe they are at fault.
- It may be most difficult to empathize with those we are closest to.
- Compliments and praise, for their part, are tragic expressions of fulfilled needs
- Behind intimidating messages are simply people appealing to us to meet their needs.
For example, rather than requesting:
" I would like you to stop turning up late every night to dinner"
You can say:
" It would make me really happy if you come to dinner at 7pm so we can all eat and spend some time together"
Note that it didn’t say
"It would make me really happy if you would turn up to dinner on time."
Stating a clear, non judgemental, non blaming request is easy once you are used to spotting blame or judgement. In this last example, saying at 7pm is a direct request, very clear, and precise and does not trigger negative feelings in others. It also includes the feelings and needs that you have, i.e. "so we can all eat and spend some time together"
I hope this has been a learning experience for you. Below i share a very amazing video by Marshall Rosenberg. If you want to go deeper then please watch this. He explains it SO WELL!!
Much love to you all.. onwards and upwards!!
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