What's that NVC stuff?
In this article from Mary Mackenzie, M.A. she gives the background and an overview of Non-Violent Communication, and how it fits with our Science of Mind and Spirit teaching.
Nonviolent Communication is a simple process that brings profound results in deepening the connections between people. It was first developed by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD., 60 years ago and is now taught worldwide, 60 countries and counting, by 350 certified trainers like me and many other facilitators. The Nonviolent Communication process is deeply entrenched in the work of Carl Rogers (Marshall Rosenberg was one of his graduate students) and Mahatma Gandhi (whose work Marshall studied for many years).
The basic premise behind Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is that violence exists on a continuum, anything from judgmental thinking to physical abuse. And, anytime we’re on this continuum, we’ve forgotten the inherent sacredness of ourselves and/or the other person. In that forgetful moment, we are more likely to do harm to ourselves or others. The anecdote to violence, then, is to remember our own sacredness and the sacredness of all sentient beings.
As a Jewish man, who was raised in the inner city of Detroit, Marshall suffered much racial abuse and he grew up tough and ready to defend himself. In his doctoral studies, he was blown away when he studied about people who had survived the Holocaust with compassion for the Nazis. How is it possible, he pondered, to suffer so much and have compassion for your tormentors?
Through his studies and research, he came to understand that it is extremely difficult, maybe even impossible, to do harm to another if we truly hold compassion for them. So, Nonviolent Communication is all about meeting conflict with a compassionate heart to inspire peaceful resolutions that value all parties involved..
It is one thing to want a compassionate heart and quite another to respond compassionately amidst the stress many of us carry daily. For instance, when someone cuts us off in traffic; the grocery clerk is moving slowly and our family is waiting for dinner; when our partner shows up late – again; when our parent gives us advice – again; or when the cat barfs on our favorite rug as we’re running out the door ten minutes late to meet our friend who we haven’t seen in a year! Can you relate?
Part of what I love about Nonviolent Communication is that it’s a philosophy for living that provides practical tools for living compassion that work in most situations, even our modern, multitasking lives. It has been successfully used in war-torn countries, to restore peace between enemies, and in everyday situations to deepen connections between family members, co-workers, friends, and all relationships.
At the core of Nonviolent Communication is a concept called Universal Needs. We think of Universal Needs as the living energy in us that drives our behaviors, such as love, beauty, wholeness, consideration, etc. And, that all people have the same Universal Needs, no matter where they live, how they were raised, their socioeconomic status or otherwise. At the heart of all people is this living energy that calls us forth.
These needs easily translate into the God qualities in the Science of Mind and Spirit philosophy – Oneness, Beauty, Wholeness, Power, Abundance, Love, Joy, Freedom, Order, and Infinite Intelligence.
Nonviolent Communication helps me to remember the inherent sacredness of myself and others, to remember the Truth of us – that we already are Wholeness, Beauty, Power, Abundance, etc. That our actions are an effort to experience those qualities even more in our lives. And, to feel compassion when our behaviors prevent us from experiencing them.
We differentiate between the Universal Need (and God quality) and our favorite method for supporting its demonstration in our lives. For instance, some people express their universal need for Beauty with color, others art or music, some prefer multiple tattoos or body piercings, and others see beauty in a wink.
On the outside, it may look like we choose our favorite methods because we want more beauty in our lives. Underneath it, though, I think we merely want to remember that we already are Beauty – and that desire to remember is what drives our specific behaviors and preferences.
Making these connections and helping people to fine tune their behaviors and choices so they’re better able to live in alignment with the Truth of them is where the process of Nonviolent Communication transforms lives. It does this through specific, practical tools that allow us to recognize the God qualities that we and others are trying to express, even when our behaviors are disappointing; to feel our emotions that are stimulated so we can heal; and, to honestly express our experience to others in a way that builds greater connection.
When we remember the sacredness in others, it simultaneously reminds us of our own. When we remember the sacredness in ourselves, we more readily recognize it in others. This is how compassion grows. I have found that blending Nonviolent Communication with Science of Mind and Spirit is a powerful way to achieve this.