Learning to Make a Connection by Maureen Eich VanWalleghan
Has anyone heard of Nonviolent Communication (NVC)? I know I have mentioned it here before and I thought I would write about it again. This is revolutionary stuff. In a nutshell: nonviolent communication is making a CONNECTION with another person through communication by identifying one’s own needs and the other person’s needs as well and then working to meet both.
This really is revolutionary in that so much of my communication is about power...power over another. Me asserting that I am right. That my way is the correct and often only way. That what I want and need is the most important thing on the table or that the other person’s needs are more important than my own.
Nonviolent communication addresses all of that. I first discovered NVC when I took a local NVC workshop for parents. The eight-week workshop not only helped me improved how I interacted with my daughter, but it impacted my marriage as well. I took a second eight-week workshop, which gave me more skills with my daughter, but I didn’t use it with my husband and I basically fell off the wagon because NVC is a discipline. To really commit to this style of communication is to connect deeply with the self.
The “fall off” for me has been the process of being consumed by difficulties in life: lack of work, money issues and a general malaise I have felt about trying to pursue filmmaking as a career. Also my husband’s work has been a roller coaster ride and my daughter’s school has been tiresome in its general disorganization. In short, I have felt powerless and with an overwhelming sense that I had no control in my life. Oh yeah, I did I say I was a mother?Nuff said!
A retired friend, who I went hiking with last year, is very into NVC. In our discussion about the NVC process she explained that NVC for her was about self talk. This notion has stuck with me. As someone who yells way too much and has spent a great deal of time speaking unkindly to my husband, I realized that every crappy thing I say to him, I also say to myself. I have spent a deal of energy berating myself for pretty much everything. And so it has been in the muck and mud—of my consuming anger about everything—that not much communication has happened.
So here’s where I could go into a big sell moment about NVC, instead I am going to pose a few questions and list some books and websites below for anyone who wants to check nonviolent communication.
- Nonviolent communication: a language of life by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- Raising Children Compassionately by Marshall B. Rosenberg
- The Center for Nonviolent Communication
- Parenting from Your Heart by Inbal Kashtan
- Google Inbal Kashtan
- Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson
- Peaceful Living, Daily Meditations for Living with Love, Healing, and Compassion by Mary Mackenzie
- Peace Workshop International
Here’s the questions: When you speak what is your goal? Are your words spoken to connect deeply with another human being? Consider the everyday interactions, particularly the interactions that are difficult. Talking to a child’s teacher. Dealing with a store clerk regarding an error. Negotiating help at home with a child who’s room is messy. Planning a family vacation with a harried husband. This list goes on and on. Everyday one must communicate and that is a very big and difficult task. I invite you to check out NVC as a way to lighten your heart and feel a sense of connection in the thing we spend so much time doing: communicating.