helpful & fun critique on the practice/s of nonviolent communication :)

by Milla — she=he

Today’s songs: Beautiful South – You Keep It All In,  Dead Prez – ‘If i feel it I feel it, if I don’t I don’t, If it ain’t really real then I probably won’t’ (It’s bigger than hip hop)

This blogpost is most likely easier to understand by persons who already know some basics of NVC- Nonviolent Communication. This is about my own learning process, and how painful it has been to sort out what (not) to learn, from the many ways that people choose to pass on their ideas of  what heart-to-heart compassionate connecting communication is like.

I talked with one person who’s been stressing the importance of staying equally grounded in honesty (expressing own feelings and needs), as with empathy (sensing and guessing feelings and needs of the other). It’s as if we have an empathy leg and an honesty leg and we need to walk on both to move further. In nvc-circles, I’ve noticed a strong tendency for people to stay ‘protected’ by staying in ’empathy-mode’ – and fairly often coming across as non-authentic when the guesses are far from my own lived reality, and me experiencing it as them speaking what’s going on for them with me as a ‘cover’. More than once I’ve wished for persons to speak from their own perspective rather than guess what is happening for me. I’d rather people ask me directly what’s going on for me if they want to know – I have no problem sharing. In spite of a communication system with a heavy focus on feelings and needs, vulnerability is still not a big thing amongst nvc practitioners. It’s easier to stay guessing.

The comics above and below are from Sven Hartenstein’s ANVC (Almost Nonviolent Communication) Cartoons 🙂

Apart from staying shielded behind guesses, I’ve also noticed that I feel disconnected (frustrated, irritated, angry, hurt, sad, terrified and so on) when the one/s I’m talking with don’t move beyond feelings and needs to discussing concrete REQUESTs (how to meet the need/s).  Many times I’ve noticed that I get more unmet needs during the ’empathizing’ process than I would if I just keep my mouth shut and find some other way to care for myself – the empathy guesses being like a wall put up to prevent from anything to ever move beyond words into specific action – while the other person gets fully into their role as ”compassionate giraffe’ – I stay shamefully regurgitating the unmet needs that come up for me when the other is emo-guessing and trying to find universality in what’s sickening and agitating for me – ie. not getting heard in my request.

From Helpful critique of nonviolent communication:

“Notice if people do not allow you to make requests. This is the goal of someone who wishes to deflect responsibility from him or herself. If they can keep you talking about your feelings, then they do not have to participate authentically, and never have to hear your requests. Like Rosenberg suggests, focus on your need, and make requests that meet your need. If you focus on your anger, you will make yourself miserable. However, if you allow someone else to force you to continue you talking interminably, especially if they are pop-psychoanalzying you, you are not getting to requests. If you are not getting to requests, you are not getting to agreements, and without agreements there will be no going forward on a basis that is more peaceful, useful, and right relationshiped.


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

Song: Tanya Donelly – ‘Our future waits on the field of fair play, I will meet you there someday’ (Darkside) 


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