There are so many things that I have learnt from NVC that have been profoundly life changing – far more than learning a 4-step process. The underpinnings of what I have gained is a natural giving from the heart that helps me to live from the richness of life as I communicate in this way… whilst still having full compassion for myself when I don’t!
For example; one of the premises of NVC is that we would only want someone to do what we ask if they are willingly saying yes, rather than saying yes from any sense of duty or submission to our request. The reason this is so important is that otherwise, we will both pay for it later in low-level resentment and in the level of trust within our relationship.
In contrast, when there is a true willingness, a natural giving from the heart, then there is joy for both of us… the giver and the receiver. And the overall level of joy and trust in the relationship increases. It’s like bank deposits… the more we care about the other (and ourself) in this way, the richer the relating becomes.
We can trust that both of our needs matter.
For some people, I’m aware this might sound a bit like Pollyanna… an “idealism” that is impossible to practice. You might be thinking that sometimes you just have to do things for someone else that you don’t want to do. But think about this for a moment.
What is it like when someone gives to you from a sense of duty? Is it enriching to receive from this place?
I remember a story that Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of Nonviolent Communication, told me once. He was lying in bed listening to his baby crying for a feed. He could feel the resentment of getting up from his warm bed and the annoyance of being woken. He was determined that he didn’t want to take any actions from this sense of “should” in his life. That it would be too costly for everyone! He lay in his bed hearing the baby cry. Imaginings of newspaper headlines appeared in his head like “Psychologist Kills Baby” and similar thoughts. Finally, the sense of obligation subsided and he actually wanted to get up and feed his hungry child. A natural compassion and desire to contribute arose in his heart.
How this unfolds is different for every person and every situation.
And gratefully, the connection skills of NVC helps us to navigate these situations and speak from the honesty of the heart. For me, this has been invaluable!!!
I admit that at first, this can seem tricky, particularly in navigating boundaries with children (that is for another article), but my experience is that the more and more I move from this within my day to day, the easier it becomes.
I invite you to reflect on the questions; “What is it in life that you are saying yes to that you wish that you weren’t?” And then, “What needs* are you trying to meet by saying “yes” when you would rather not?”
I’d love to hear what you discover.