3 augustus 2010

Non-Violent Communication

In Aikido we sometimes say: ”Move yourself, don’t move the other.” When we move the other - when we do a technique onto someone – we treat them as an object, which means there can be no Ai. If we move ourselves and connect to the other, the other becomes an extension of ourselves. Then, when we move, the other moves in harmony with us.

A similar principle is the cornerstone of Non-Violent Communication, a process of personal communication pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg. NVC focuses on two things: honest self-expression (exposing what matters to oneself in a way that's likely to inspire compassion in others) and empathy (listening with deep compassion).

Let me explain using an example. Imagine at home someone is playing their music really loud. This is upsetting you. At some point, you may confront this person with annoyance in your voice. “Come on man, you are being really loud, don’t be so annoying.”

This way of communicating tends to be counterproductive. The other cannot but feel attacked, which usually generates verbal or physical aggression, which in turn undermines the relationship. “Mind your own business, you always play your stupid music loudly and you shout on the phone.” Forget about Ai in that house….

NVC has an alternative approach that encompasses four steps: observation, feelings, needs and requests. This may look like this. “I am noticing really loud music. This is making me feel uncomfortable. I am studying and I feel the need for some quiet. I would like to ask you to turn down the volume a bit.”

This approach is fundamentally different and will get you a completely different outcome. After all, the other is not being judged and it's hard to argue with someone's feelings and needs. True, the other may decline your request, but the communication process itself will not get in a way of being heard by and listening to someone else.

Try it on for size, it’s good fun and actually quite simple to use. The easiest thing to do is to start each sentence with ‘I’ instead of ‘you’.

So in the dojo don’t say “You are being rough, relax.” but say “I am not comfortable at this pace, could you please slow down.” Or say “I would like us to be more connected while moving” instead of “you are being a bad uke.” Moving from blaming/judging to identifying needs/facts will get you empathy rather than a counterattack.

There is a lot more to NVC than this, so if you are curious have a look at http://www.cnvc.org.

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