Street Giraffe [tele-practice] ~ First Sunday of each month:
We’ll experiment with practical skills to:
- Overcome fear of entering into and navigating challenging dialogues
- Awareness of choice/choice-points, whilst in the moment
- Cultivate the capacity to embody “Nonviolent” consciousness
- Develop fluidity with naturalized NVC language
- Re-center and remain connected to the values at stake
View Contact Info.
Additional questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Teaser: Universal Human Needs]
“Dialogue is a conversation … the outcome of which is unknown.”
~ Martin Buber
A Tele-Practice Group Towards Building ‘Street Giraffe Cred’
The intention of Nonviolent Communication is to inspire compassion by strengthening our capacity to be present, to receive others with equanimity while still evoking an authentic mutual regard. Street Giraffe is a term used to depict a colloquial form of NVC, although it’s come to mean much more than this (for me). Being a ‘street giraffe’ practitioner — in the context of our telepractice group — entails leaning into our edges, cultivating a capacity to engage intentionally in dialogue* that adapts to the context at hand while living the consciousness, inspiring awareness of our shared humanity as we attend to commonly held values. In our daily lives, we strive to become mindful of our reflexively ingrained (critical/‘jackal’) reactivity and instead opt to broaden our repertoire, such that we may have greater choice as to how to embody presence and a conscious capacity to respond — symbolized by the farsightedness & bigheartedness of the giraffe — which is derived in part from a cultivated attunement to what we are observing, feeling, and wanting (discerning that which matters most — our Universal Human Needs — from the variety of tangible, strategic means at hand that may fulfill upon this valued end). We express honestly and listen empathically, clarifying what’s at stake, even – perhaps especially – amidst trying circumstances (at least whenever possible, given the likelihood of human error). Finally, maybe even counterintuitively – given all that’s above, we hope to move beyond the dualism of giraffe/right and jackal/wrong.
‘I am a girackal. Or a jackaffe. Or some such creature.’
This blog, as may be rather obvious, is a kind of scribbling on the back of a napkin (albeit quasi-curatorially so), a form of structured procrastination, and, in the context of our tele-practice group, a collaborative inquiry or discovery process as to how coming from an intention of wanting-fully-without-attachment — read, ‘NVC consciousness’ — actually works (exploring its ‘hypothetical efficacy’).
By Jamie Holmes
When we present knowledge as more certain than it is, we discourage curiosity.
“True dialogue can only happen if I enter the conversation willing to be changed by it. If I am unwilling to change, to be affected sufficiently to consider options new to me, on what grounds am I expecting the other person to change?”
~ Miki Kashtan
Three [Dialogic] Choices:
How to Practice Nonviolent Communication: 4 Steps
Excerpt: “…Needs have a special meaning in NVC: they are common to all people and not tied to any particular circumstance or strategy for fulfilling them.”
NVC in the news…
TIME 100: One of the first books Satya Nadella recommended to his staff after taking the top job at Microsoft was Nonviolent Communication, an unconventional choice for a company where aggressive communicators thrived. Bill Gates famously upbraided staff with the phrase, “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” plus one expletive unprintable in a family publication. His successor Steve Ballmer was one of the few executives who could give it right back to Microsoft’s formidable founder, according to co-founder Paul Allen, who offered a frank account of the pair’s nose-to-nose shouting matches in his autobiography… (continues) [See also: Microsoft CEO Nadella’s interview, “…look, let us make sure we are empathetic to each other’s needs, because it requires that.”]
The 2 Parts and 4 Components of NVC
|NVC Model | NVC concepts | Feelings List | Needs List | NVC Chapter One|
The four-part NVC process is used for expressing and for listening:
Excerpt: Our intention and the effect of our actions don’t necessarily line up. In exploring that gap in a variety of contexts, both internal and relational, I hope to support clarity and the possibility of greater personal liberation for many of us… I invite anyone reading this blog to look at this diagram, and to apply it to actions of your own as you become more able to mourn and self-accept as you move through life, thereby becoming more present for others when your actions affect them negatively… (continues)
Kashtan, “A Naturalizing the NVC language comes from aligning ourselves with the truth and expressing from that place. I want to learn more and more how to express myself in ways that are completely authentic and require the least amount of effort for the other person to hear me. One of the reasons why the conditioning to be inauthentic is in place is because of the widespread perception that truth and care are incompatible. I challenge that assumption deeply, and have come to believe that any truth can be combined with sufficient care to maintain connection while delivering it.”
I consider these flow charts, above, as the cornerstone of my street giraffe practice.
- What are your most notable NVC learning-edges?
- What are some of your challenges, as a practitioner?
- How do you ritualize your NVC practice? (e.g. SCP: Breath, Body, Inquiry)
- What has worked? How have you grown and individuated?
- What hasn’t work? How might you do things differently in the future?
- What are some of the lessons you’ve learned?
- Identify a recent ‘thematic’ influence (read, Values/Universal–Human–Needs).
- How did things pan out with regard to this theme?
- Any inkling as to a possible theme (value/need) &/or ritual to focus on going forward?
Four Competencies of NVC (Consciousness) ~
Unskilled, Awakening, Capable & Integrated:
Via CNVC.org: This document comes in two sizes, they contain the same information. The large version is on eight pages and the other version is on four pages.
Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2.pdf
Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2 large.pdf
Or, for simplicity’s sake:
Matrix co-creators Jim & Jori Manske have suggested these five skills as “easy ways to integrate NVC, everywhere”:
- Feelings Awareness
“In a separated world, I can attend to my needs or to your needs, not to both. In a chosen interdependent world, I can embrace both.” ~ Miki Kashtan, The Little Book of Courageous Living
Empathy is defined in Webster as: the ability to share in another’s emotions or feelings in order to understand him better. In his book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. explores the power of empathy. He writes:
Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. We often have a strong urge to interrupt, to give advice. Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.
The 2 Parts & 4 Components of NVC
“NVC is an awareness discipline masquerading as a communication process.”
~ Kit Miller of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
The legacy of the Buddha’s awakening most frequently honored is his liberating insight and the potent meditative practices that lead to it. Another incredible gift and essential support of the teachings are his guidelines on how to live wisely and ethically. And one of the most central and important of these areas is “Right Speech.”
When one considers how much time and energy we spend each day communicating (speaking, listening, email, text, social media), one gets a sense of the importance of bringing mindfulness to this realm, as well as the far-reaching and transformative effects this can have on our lives. And yet, we find relatively few explicit instructions in the early texts for how to implement the Buddha’s guidelines on Right Speech.
Early in my practice, I came across Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and developed a deep interest in the relationship between contemplative practice and communication. In his system of training I found a detailed, hands-on guide that directly translated my values for insight and compassion from the meditation cushion into my life.
Over time, implementing his training, I experienced more clarity, empathy, and connection in my relationships. In my meditation practice, I witnessed a fascinating, synergistic process occurring between Vipassana and NVC. I watched with amazement as the very mechanisms of perception were slowly reshaped in my mind – and through this, how insight into the nature of perception itself developed… (continues)
See also: Keys to Mindful Communication
View an Outline-of-Call
The specificity of the outline above is embedded into a broader context of Joanna Macy’s four stations of the spiral of her work-that-reconnects. Similar to environmental activists, where burnout and cynicism often beckon, being practitioners of communication-as-a-spiritual-discipline (within the marketplace, not isolated in a cave, as Thomas Huebl oft puts it) necessitates a degree of resiliency and continual renovation-in-our-approach. Our call is thus roughly divided into quarters (20 minutes a piece) based on The WTR Spiral: 1) Coming from gratitude; 2) Honoring our pain; 3) Seeing w/ new eyes; 4) Going forth… The first three parts parallel (NVC mediation’s) themes of Celebration, Mourning & Learning, while the last portion ‘going forth’ focuses more on experimenting with how the theory of NVC informs the Praxis (process) of NVC (e.g. interactive & experiential practices such as our dialogue lab w/ role plays utilizing “iGiraffe”, etc.)
|By Dori Midnight|
When there’s approximately nine minutes left in the interview Charlie poses the question:
Q: Did you say that your greatest guru is Francis Bacon?
A: Yes, artistically, yes.
Q: How did he influence you?
A: Well, he was a great painter but, obviously…
He wrote… You know there’s a book called Interviews with Francis Bacon and he put forth the concept that, at that time I just hadn’t thought of, of the tension between inspiration and technique. And the way that accident is very important in art. But that you can only achieve accident, in a full way, after you’ve fully mastered technique. In other words he said, you know it’s true, that children under the age of seven are all — every single one of them — a genius painter. They’re genius because it’s totally instinctive. But you can’t be painting as a seven year old when you’re fourteen. So, you know, you have to move forward. And then you go through this painful process of learning technique when you’ve lost all your instinct, you’ve lost all your inspiration, and you’re just learning how to draw a foot. You know. And then you get through that and now you can allow accident to happen. You’re open to accident. You’ve got all the technique, you’ve got all that, it’s so deep within you that you don’t even have to think about it, it’s got to become thoughtless the technique, and then you can allow inspiration to come back. The master of this is Al Pacino. The absolute master. He’s a master of allowing — he’s totally technical — he knows where the camera, every mark, every hit he hits a mark, never fails, you know. He knows the cutting, the editing, and then within that very structured form, which film is, very, you know, very tight — he’s utterly free and it’s just so inspiring to be around.
See also Miki’s blog: The Fearless Heart
Miki Kashtan via YouTube: I’m curious to know how many people have irritated people in your life by how you speak with NVC? So, if I use NVC that is not fully integrated, then in a certain small way, I am imposing my practice on other people. So I want to take a moment of silence, as for me, this insight was of great depth for me, when I finally got it.
Than we find ourselves in a very difficult situation. We no longer want to use the old ways but we don’t have the new ways integrated. Be careful now, as you are at your most vulnerable.
One is to learn some techniques for making the language sound more natural.
Second is to have enough self-acceptance to let go of trying to use NVC with people, that are not NVC speakers, and just be spontaneous and let things happen. We all survived many years of living without NVC.
And the third thing is to try make an explicit agreement with the person. I want to give you a way of trying making the agreement. Something like, ‘I really don’t like what happens between us when I talk the way I used to talk. So I would like to talk differently, even though it sounds stilted. Because I have some hope that it will help us. Are you willing for me to try?’ And if the person says yes, than we have a practice group right there. It’s more vulnerable than using NVC on top of fear.
Usually when people try to use NVC in a context where it is not integrated, there is nervousness and fear and discomfort going on, but we don’t say it so then what we communicate nonverbally is disconnection both between the true level of our consciousness and our language and between the true feelings and needs that we have and what we say. For example, if I’m judging you as selfish and disrespectful, but I know I should speak NVC, there is a gap between my consciousness and my language. Then I say, ‘This is not meeting my need for respect.’ But I’m like this, because of that gap. And the other person picks up the discomfort much more than the words.
So if we can say, ‘There is a lot going on inside of me that I don’t know how to say usefully. And I’m nervous and uncomfortable and yet I still want to try to connect in a different way than the one that I don’t like which gets us into trouble.’ Who would say no to that? Why would anyone want the old argument. So when people say, ‘don’t NVC me’ what they are saying is be authentic. Authenticity comes before words…
The second piece is to let go of perfection and to be honest and authentic about the spontaneous truth that lives in me. Eventually I will know how to translate. For now, if I don’t have the agreement, it is better that I speak jackal that is authentic than that I speak NVC that is imposed on you without your agreement and without my authenticity. I much prefer that we speak authentic jackal than distorted NVC look-alike that isn’t real. I hope you take this deep to your heart for the benefit of all beings.” [italics, mine own]
#4) Feelings point to needs being met or unmet: Feelings may be triggered but not caused by others. Our feelings arise directly out of our experience of whether our needs seem to us met or unmet in a given circumstance. Our assessment of whether or not our needs are met almost invariably involves an interpretation or belief. When our needs are met, we may feel happy, satisfied, peaceful, etc. When our needs are not met, we may feel sad, scared, frustrated, etc. See more assumptions here.
Until recently, almost nobody studied giraffes in the field, leaving a paucity of research on the stately animals that can stand as tall as a second-story window.
Findings from Merck, Inc., supported by research conducted by the Center for Collaborative Communication, document significant benefits of listening skill training in the workplace.
In a two-part study jointly conducted by Merck Inc. and the Center for Collaborative Communication, significant results were found as a result of workplace communication training, including greater efficiency, effectiveness, motivation and team work. See the report here: Summary of Impact Assessment, Research Report &/or Resources
See also: Testimonials such as that of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP): “I have recognized that there is a science to the art of communication – there are models to be used; models that can be practiced. I know how to listen to clients, understand their needs and address their issues.”
FYI ~ Additional research reports & academic publications at the Center for Nonviolent Communication’s research page.
“An NVC practice as ‘dustpan & brush’…”
~ Kit Miller
Ever feel tongue tied (only to come up with a juicy bon mot after-the-fact)? Well, we make a ritual of this! Which is to say that primarily we work with ‘posthearsals’ — drawing from past experience (scenarios that might have seemed overwhelming at the time, whilst now can be viewed from a state of repose?) — with an ear towards how to, perhaps paradoxically, both become more embodied as well as transcend (despite whatever the circumstances at hand), recalibrating our response-ability such that going forward we may have an evolving sense of possibility, empowerment and (hopefully) ease. The subtitle for this blog “the story of our experiments with truth” draws inspiration from Gandhi’s autobiography (of course), but also from restorative justice circles where the approach is one of inquiry, that of testing a hypothesis. We are, as individuals and as a group, experimenting with an efficacy hypothesis: as to whether NVC works in our lives and – if so – where/when, why and how (and, no, we’ve not yet been inducted, via secret handshake, into the Center for Advanced Hindsight). The arc of our time together is not all that dissimilar to the despair and empowerment of Joanna Macy’s spiral in her Work That Reconnects.
Click on BayNVC to see Miki Kashtan as a host of the Conflict Hotline.
“NVC is an awareness discipline masquerading as a communication process.” ~ Kit Miller
(John Kinyon has said that he practices this (SCP) process up to 100 times per day!)
- Breath – slowing, counting, deepening (being in the present moment)
- Body – head, heart, “hara,” sensation, energy, aliveness (acceptance of “is”)
- Needs – consciousness of [universal-human] needs (nonattachment & synchronicity)
“The process of learning an art can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory, the other, the mastery of the practice.” Erich Fromm
A Few Tools in Our Toolbox:
“Some of us have paid the price of hiding our authenticity to belong. Others have paid the price of belonging to preserve our authenticity.” ~ Miki Kashtan
“Freedom is the capacity to pause between stimulus and response and, in that pause, to choose the one response toward which we wish to throw our weight. The capacity to create ourselves, based on this freedom, is inseparable from consciousness or self-awareness.” Rollo May, The Courage to Create
THREE LAYERS OF EMPATHY
Empathy is being with another with compassion, connecting to the
humanness of their experience. Empathy is the silent presence
with another, not the words we use. We can express our empathy
and some possible ways to express empathy are included here.
ACKNOWLEDGING another’s experience
Reflecting: Observation, Feeling, Request, and/or Wish
NOT: blame, criticism, or evaluation
“(Something) happened. ”
“You are upset.”
“You wish (something different) had happened.”
“You would like (something).”
Connecting to the CAUSE of the feeling (the need)
Connecting to the universal need/value that the feeling is
reflecting, making no reference to any specific person (including
myself) doing any specific action. Notice there is no reference to
“I” or “me” at the causal level.
“Are you feeling _____ because (need) is important to you?”
“Are you valuing (need)?‘
“So for you, (need) is important.”
Some examples of “need” words: security, cooperation, fun, creativity, love,
respect, freedom, healing, understanding, belonging, awareness, etc.
SAVORING the need
Being with the value of the need.
Connecting to the internal resource and universality of the need.
Space / Silence
Based on the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication
© 2009 peaceworks, Jim and Jori Manske
Certified Trainers with The Center for Nonviolent Communication
“Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr., “My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence”
Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens; with a love like that, it lights up the whole sky. ~ Hafiz
“Nonviolent Communication: Gandhian Principles for Everyday Living,”
Miki Kashtan, Satyagraha Foundation for Nonviolence Studies, April 2012.
Sven Hartenstein’s cartoons: http://anvc.svenhartenstein.de
See Home Page for Next Sunday’s ‘Specialty’
In modern prose and poetry ‘street’ is used to define non-mainstream, a form of anti-establishment. It probably means to disassociate from what is regarded as ‘establishment’.
As mentioned off the top, this Street Giraffe site exists largely due to Structured Procrastination (avoidance of more significant matters) and serves as a (b)logbook tracking the travels of a tele-practice group that gathers the first Sunday of each month to build a kind of muscle memory — in this instance of the proverbial tongue/eardrum — or self-expressive competency in how one may opt to embody and convey NVC consciousness (although we have been known to resort to jackal satire whether in a pinch, or not, given it’s our native tongue). As is born out by the posts on this blog’s home page, our orientation is not at all purist, but instead quite intentionally varied and interdisciplinary. Along with interweaving the work of numerous NVC trainers, the broader toolkit we draw upon includes the exploration of a variety of other modalities – such as (in no particular order): the interplay between Nonviolent Communication Consciousness and [Inner Relationship] Focusing, Mindfulness, Applied ontology, Transparent Communication, Resiliency, and the convergence of NVC & Interpersonal Neurobiology, etc. This virtual buffet is the result of viewing ‘street giraffe’ not merely as a question of semantics (or syntax), but one of presence, discernment, even at times a paradigm shift; otherwise it’s just lipstick on a jackal. Last but certainly not least, in addition to applying ourselves to both intrapersonal/interpersonal conflict resolution (through NVC Mediation), we’re also keenly concerned as to how to engage with the broader societal context in which we dwell. We’d welcome the merely curious or anyone at all who may have feedback or additional inquiries as to our website and/or teleconference. To learn more about the possibility for participation in our eclectic ‘sangha’, please see our Contact Info. page and/or to learn of additional NVC resources, see our Other NVC Learning Venues page (other modalities included at bottom of page). For further information about either, we’d request that you contact us via email: email@example.com. Thank you.
Sven Hartenstein’s cartoons: http://anvc.svenhartenstein.de
Any questions about joining our “Street Giraffe” practice group, which takes place on the first Sunday each month @ 9 pm/ET, may be directed to our email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“There is no such thing as a difficult piece. A piece is either impossible or it is easy. The process whereby it migrates from one category to the other is known as practicing.”
~ Louis Kentner, Pianist
For an example of unconscious incompetency, see actor’s portrayal of Louis Kentner’s rendition of the Warsaw Concerto.
Developing Skillful Communication
Skillful communication is a high-order skill using ordinary capacities. It can be likened to the difference between knowing how to tie one’s shoelaces and knowing how to play the piano. Both require fine motor coordination and manual dexterity, yet playing the piano adds listening and refines these capacities to a much higher level. So how can we learn to actually do this? (continues)
Although, in the spirit of street giraffe, perhaps it’s a bit more akin to improvisation than a memorized and well-rehearsed performance…
What Is Acquired Spontaneity?
Excerpt: “…One of the common responses I hear from people who study NVC, especially early on in their journey, is fear of losing spontaneity. They want to have ease and flow, to speak in ways that feel natural to them. Or they say that it’s just too hard, or even impossible for them. Embracing and living a consciousness of nonviolence challenges most of how we have been trained to think, to feel, to speak, and to act. For most of us, when we discover this consciousness, when we awaken from the socialization to which we have been subjected, we realize that the old way is deeply ingrained in us. It’s not a surprise to me that so many revolutionary movements have not succeeded in creating the change they envisioned. It takes practice to integrate a new way, no matter how much we love the new way, nor how much it may feel aligned with our deepest heart’s desires. Over the years I have been happily embracing one practice after another, sometimes several in parallel (I wouldn’t recommend that!), to free up my consciousness from the deeply embedded structures of thought that I have inherited. The effort has paid off in spades. I feel incredibly free from some pervasive social norms, I am almost entirely shameless, and I have a sense of flow in my actions and speech much of the time. This is what I call acquired spontaneity. It’s no longer effortful for me to speak without judgments, for example, because I have created new pathways in my brain that are available to me by dint of having been used again and again and again. Part of my practice is about increasing my own awareness over time by being gentle with myself when I notice myself straying off of my practice, so that there won’t be any internal fear of waking up to awareness…” (continues in Acquired Spontaneity)
“Change leads to disappointment if it is not sustained. Transformation is sustained change, and it is achieved through practice.” B. K. S. Iyengar
“Understanding without practice is better than practice without understanding. Understanding with practice is better than understanding without practice. Residing in your true nature is better than understanding or practice.” ~ Upanishads
Four Competencies of NVC (Consciousness):
This document comes in two sizes, they contain the same information. The large version is on eight pages and the other version is on four pages.
In modern prose and poetry ‘street’ is used to define non-mainstream, a form of anti-establishment. It probably means to disassociate from what is regarded as ‘establishment’.
As NVC Academy’s co-founder Mary Mackenzie once said, “street giraffe is, to me, bringing that consciousness with me, first and foremost, and then finding a way to express it (in such a way that I think I can connect with others and also that helps me maintain that connection with myself).”
Street giraffe has as its foundation a quality of consciousness or presence, which then, utilizes various tools such as “OFNR” (see Marshall Rosenberg – video clip beneath) and/or the three choices of empathy, honesty &/or self-connection to support an attunement to the aliveness in ourselves and others. It is a way of conveying our full voice and range of (integrated) expression – the breadth of emotions and depth of values – while staying keenly present (as a vessel of ahimsa, the consciousness of nonviolence). We’ll explore how to embody our unique expressive creativity while cherishing individual choice and cultivating awareness. As translators of the pure NVC “need” words we’ll refine our language until we become fluent in deciphering others and conveying ourselves in a way that resonantly adapts to the context at hand. Along the way, we hope to play (with fellow ‘giraffes’/practitioners-of-the-craft), stretch and be catalysts for one another’s development in this transformative NVC consciousness!
“There is genuine dialogue – no matter whether spoken or silent – where each of the participants really has in mind the other or others in their present and particular being and turns to them with the intention of establishing a living mutual relation between himself and them. There is technical dialogue, which is prompted solely by the need of objective understanding. And there is monologue disguised as dialogue, in which two men, meeting in space, speak each with himself in strangely tortuous and circuitous ways and yet imagine they have escaped the torment of being thrown back on their own resources.” (I and Thou – Buber 1947: 19)
In the video clip beneath Ali Miller and Newt Bailey portray a couple, Debbie and Jason, who have a mildly contentious conversation.
They then try using the “Connected Conversation Process” to navigate through their conflict with greater mutual understanding and connection.
In the beginning aggressiveness seems to win, But at the end, he who is compassionate wins.” – Translated by Octavian Sarbatoare, 2002, Chapter 69
The 2 Parts and 4 Components of NVC
“For me, being self-responsble is all about empowerment — via noticing what is potentially in my locus of control, getting to know myself better, and making conscious choices to do what is in my power to do to make life more wonderful.” ~ Bob Wentworth on Self-Responsibility | Capital NVC
“Growing into full self responsibility, using others as mirrors of where we are stuck and practising the basic and wonderful skills of self empathy, inquiry, conscious dialogue and listening from empathic presence to others, are ways that NVC help us all to embody the qualities of being, or the values, that are also called needs.” ~ Gina Censiose of Embodying Empathy
I. Check-in – essentializing w/ naturalized expression of OFNR (“40 Words” or less)
II. Self-Connection – OFNR* (the root of ‘stealth NVC/street giraffe’)
III. Street-Dispatches w/Matrix** + Fluency w/Feelings & [Living-Energy] Needs
IV. “Bricks & Mortar” – Fleshing out Universal Needs: Word-to-Phrase***
V. “Blueprint” – Dialogue/Role Play w/iGiraffe (Experiments: NVC Consciousness)
VI. Check-out – Flowers, Tears & Lightbulbs w/ Connection Requests
View more details here: Outline-of-Call
See additional videos: Marshall Rosenberg | Street Giraffe
See also Chapter One of Marshall’s book by the same name.
Our meeting was inspired by a variety of maestros in the craft of Giraffe Consciousness (as is born out by attributions on the home page), however the teachings of Miki Kashtan, in particular, played an indispensable role in both its conception and format — so while it’s absolutely free to attend — any appreciative gifts we’d encourage be donated in Miki’s honor through her Bay area website: donate (this is an example of wanting-fully-without-attachment). See also: Circle of Support
FYI ~ For a succinct piece on the meaning of nonviolence, please view Miki Kashtan’s blog at The Fearless Heart — in particular her posting beneath…
by Miki Kashtan
One of the most frequent questions I hear when I talk about Nonviolent Communication is “Why Nonviolent?” People feel uneasy. They hear the word nonviolent as a combination of two words, as a negation of violence. They don’t think of themselves as violent, and find it hard to embrace the name.
For some time I felt similarly. I was happier when I heard people talk about Compassionate Communication instead of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), because it felt more positive. After all, isn’t the practice of about focusing on what we want, where we are going, instead of looking at what’s not working? Why would the name be any different? Like others, I was unaware of the long-standing tradition of nonviolence to which Nonviolent Communication (NVC) traces its origins. Then I learned more about Gandhi. I became more acquainted with the story of the Civil Rights movement. Then I fell in love with the name Marshall Rosenberg gave to this practice, and more so over the years. Here’s why. Nonviolence as Love The word nonviolence is the closest literal translation that Gandhi found to the Sanskrit word ahimsa. Although in English this word appears as a negation, in Sanskrit naming a concept or quality through negation instead of directly is sometimes a way of suggesting it is too great to be named. Indeed, avera, the word for love in Sanskrit, literally translates into “non-hatred.” Hinduism is not the only tradition that honors the unnamable. As a friend pointed out to me when talking about this, Judaism has a similar practice. The name of God is unsayable in Hebrew, being letters without vowels, without instructions for how to read them. Some things are beyond words. And nonviolence is one of them. Gandhi said: “ahimsa … is more than just the absence of violence; it is intense love.” (Gandhi the Man p. 53) What is this kind of love? It appears to me that Jesus and Gandhi and those of us following their tradition through the practice of NVC think of love as the full radical acceptance of the humanity of every person, regardless of how unhappy we are with the results of their actions. This love is a commitment to act in ways that uphold that humanity; to care for the wellbeing of the other person even when we are in opposing positions; even when all that we value is at stake. For the past 15 years I have been dedicating my life to this quest. I want to keep learning and exploring what nonviolence means. I want to live this intense love; model it as best I know how, and more; expose and seek support for the places where I falter; and support others who want the same, who want to grow their capacity to love everyone, including themselves. This blog is, at heart, an attempt to do just that.
FREE TELESEMINARS WITH MIKI
The Fearless Heart blends theory, deep spiritual wisdom, vulnerable sharing of personal insights and experiences, radical vision, and practical tips for everyday living. Join Miki monthly to discuss the recent posts on her blog.
Watch Miki Kasthan via the Conflict Hotline:
The premises underlying the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) often stand in stark contrast to the messages we receive in the culture at large — whether from our parents or teachers while growing up, or from the media or other cultural venues for the rest of our lives. They also, often enough, belie what we see around us in terms of human behavior. To take just one example, how much evidence do we see on a daily basis that would support the assumption that human beings enjoy giving? If we just look at how people behave, without adding layers of contextualizing their choices, there’s no question that the conclusion that people are selfish would be much more warranted.
Looked at from this angle, choosing to embrace Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is admittedly an outrageous proposition. Indeed, many people choose a very limited version of this practice, one that focuses pragmatically on seeing it as a set of skills designed to resolve conflicts. At the same time, I see people, repeatedly, be attracted to the all-encompassing vision that is implicitly painted by these assumptions even when they disagree with them. Often enough, I know of this inner struggle people have because they challenge me when I present NVC from the perspective of its underlying principles.
Sometimes the challenge takes the form of questioning whether NVC would work in this or that situation. Part of the difficulty stems from a misunderstanding of what it means for something like NVC to “work.” When parents bring up challenges with their children and express disbelief that it would “work,” it is a code word for “getting my child to do what I want” without recognizing sufficiently that the fundamental intention when bringing NVC into a situation or relationship is about making things “work” for everyone, which would include the child.
At other times, people triumphantly presented “proofs” that NVC doesn’t work. One of my recent entries was about one such example – the fact that “even” people with extensive NVC experience end relationships and go through breakups.
I also have my own anguishing examples: relationships I haven’t found ways of transforming or exiting; sour endings in relationships, both personal and work-related, that left my heart aching for imagining another outcome.
When many people first learn NVC, they become so enthusiastic about the possibilities they see unfolding, that they immediately try to put it to use everywhere. Often enough, the results can be disastrous, such that other people become deeply suspicious of NVC. Here is a sample of what people often hear from others in such circumstances:
- “It’s like I’ve got a complete stranger staying in my house.”
- “Don’t use this NVC thing on me.”
- “What happened to you? Can’t you speak normal?”
- “You sound so clinical.”
- “Why can’t you just be honest with me and tell me what’s really going on with you?”
The fundamental issue happening here, as I see it, is that people fall in love with what NVC can bring to their lives and to the world, while attributing that miracle to the language used rather than to the consciousness shift that precedes the choice of words. As a result, they use the language in their interactions with others instead of seeing it as a practice tool designed to support integration of principles and to facilitate navigation of difficult moments with mutual consent. Because of how challenging that distinction between the language and the underlying consciousness is, I want to carefully unpack this paradox… Read more »
“We are all capable of becoming fundamentalists because we get addicted to other people’s wrongness.” ― Pema Chödrön
For more information as to the content of our calls, please contact us at email@example.com (and view pages atop this site, labeled Tele-Practice Outline etc. and/or for additional materials/exercises – scroll through our home page, which catalogues weekly activities explored, or view: Practice-Resources and the Outline Tabs I, II , III, IV, V, & VI in addition to our Handy Handouts page. See also: Colloquial Giraffe Options with Miki Kashtan.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
“If we are able to remain open to creating a solution [or improvement] together, instead of being attached to a particular outcome, others can sense that their well-being matters.”
~ Miki Kashtan
Sven Hartenstein’s cartoons: http://anvc.svenhartenstein.de
Arc of Experiments in NVC Consciousness: http://streetgiraffe.blogspot.com