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Disagree and Celebrate Anyway

Part of the magic and power of NVC (Compassionate Communication) is that provides a way out of dualistic evaluations like agree/disagree, good/bad, polite/rude, etc.  When you think you have to agree or disagree to remain in integrity with yourself, you can miss powerful opportunities to connect.

A student of mine provided this example.  I will call her Gloria.  Gloria has been working to create more connection with her adult son.  She recently had the opportunity to visit him at his new home.  The day was busy with a large family gathering.  At the end of the day her son said, "You didn't say anything about the house."

Gloria froze.  When she looked at the house through her own values around simplicity and practicality, she didn't have any positive feelings.  She was caught in the idea that in order to connect with her son she had to betray her own values and express dishonestly some admiration of his house.

Coming from a NVC consciousness, Gloria can experience this differently.  She can make a guess that her son's comment might be a request for acknowledgment and celebration, which has nothing to do with opinions about the house.

Accordingly her response to him might sound like this, "Yeah, seeing your house I see that you have created all that you dreamed of in a house.  You've worked hard for this.  I'm guessing you feel very satisfied?"

Gloria's son may respond by expressing his own pleasure or celebration of the house or he may press Gloria for her opinion thinking this is how he will meet his need for acknowledgment and celebration.

He might say, "Yeah, but do you like it?"

Gloria may be tempted to slip back into the world of agree/disagree here.  Working to stay connected she can respond to the need rather than the question itself.  Gloria can then look for something she did enjoy about the house that day.  It might sound like this,

"Hmmm, I really enjoyed walking down the staircase and seeing the family pictures as I went.  I also loved standing on your back deck and looking at the Doug Firs towering above."  

Gloria might also connect with her son by honoring the difference between them.  It might sound something like,

"You know son I love my simple little cottage.  This isn't really my style.  But that doesn't keep me from appreciating how hard you have worked to create this home for you and your family.  I can also tell you that I really enjoyed walking down the staircase and seeing the family pictures as I went.  And I loved standing on your back deck and looking at the Doug Firs towering above.  I see that you have put a lot of care into this."

Sharing her experience of the house that day and acknowledging what's important to her son rather than giving her opinion or dishonestly hiding the difference between them, she can connect and celebrate with her son and still remain authentic to her own values.

This week watch for moments when you might get stuck in agree/disagree, or right/wrong thinking.  These moments usually arise in the context of someone expressing an opinion or asking you for yours.  Rather than giving your opinion (agreement or disagreement) experiment with sharing your actual experience of the topic being referenced. Experience includes observations, sensations, feelings, needs, and behaviors.

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