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Doing NVC vs. Living NVC

NVC is a consciousness as well as a clear set of concepts, tools, and directions for using them. "Doing NVC" means you have lost the consciousness and are using the tools without the intention to connect.

Creating connection is the purpose of NVC. Living NVC means that you are conscious of connection. You carry the intention to connect to life moment by moment – the life in yourself, in others, in nature, wherever it may be.

In doing NVC, you might miss a doorway to connection because you get caught by the words rather than hearing the heart of the person speaking them.

For example, you may have said something that triggered hurt in a friend. She responds by saying, "You humiliated me by saying that. How could you? I demand you apologize!"

Marshall Rosenberg has been known to say "Never apologize." He says this because often an apology is used to assign blame or make someone wrong. However, apologies can be done from a NVC consciousness.

You can hear your friend's feelings and needs and respond to them. You might guess that she is feeling hurt and scared and needs reassurance about your caring for her.

Rather than refusing to apologize because it's not NVC, you can offer a giraffe apology. A giraffe apology might sound like this, "Yes, I want to give you my apology. I want you to know that when I see the pain my words have stimulated for you, I feel sad and regretful because I want caring and respect in our friendship and what I said didn't support that." Or even a simple "I'm sorry," might suffice if you are connected to your own feelings and needs and those of your friend.

Another example of doing NVC is offering education when empathy is needed.

For example, a co-worker is angry and complaining about a supervisor and says, "I feel belittled and manipulated. I need her to treat me like human being who has a brain."

If you are doing NVC, you might say, "Belittled and manipulated are not actually feelings. They are interpretations of what you think she is doing to you. What she does is about her not about you."

If you are living NVC, you ask yourself what is needed to create connection. My guess would be that your co-worker needs empathy. You then, give empathy in a way that your co-worker can best receive it.

This might mean listening silently while connecting to his feelings and needs. It might mean reflecting back the tone of what he says, "Sounds miserable."Maybe you silently name the feeling and verbally guess a need, "Sounds like you'd like some acknowledgement for the skills you bring to this job." Or you could just reflect feelings, "You must be feeling pretty angry and frustrated?"

Living NVC is about carrying the intention to connect. It's about following the life energy in the moment and letting it guide you to connection.

Choose an interaction today in which you set aside all your ideas about how it should go. See if you can just feel and follow the energy of connection. Where is the most life? Is it in expressing a thought, feeling, or need in you? Is it in getting more clarity about the experience of the person your talking with? This is something many of you may do automatically. If so, bring your awareness to just how you do that. Make the unconscious conscious.

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