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When You Want to Scream

When you think about screaming at someone you probably imagine a barrage of criticism and blame.  If you value kindness, you likely don't want to scream in this way and at the same time you want to express yourself and stand up for your needs.

A common misperception in learning Compassionate Communication (NVC) is that it means always being calm and kind.  In truth the practice of NVC is about being fully alive and authentic.  Sometimes this means feeling angry, exasperated, frustrated, irritated,
etc. . . The hard part is when you express difficult feelings in the form of criticizing others. The key is to screaming compassionately is to make what you say about the situation and your experience of it.

When you get home from a long day at work and open the door to a living room strewn with papers, food, and cloths, you might be tempted to scream at your teenage children,

"Didn't I tell you guys to clean up when you got home!  Why can't you do what I tell you?!" 

While this may or may not set them in motion, it certainly doesn't do much for your relationship.  In NVC, it might sound like this:

"Arrg!  I feel so angry and frustrated when I see this living room.  I need order and help.  I am going to take ten minutes to rest before I can talk with you."

From a NVC consciousness, you recognize that engaging in a dialogue from anger rarely yields effective results.  If it does get results, you will pay for those results later.  Resentment, disrespect, and a loss of connection are the long term results of interacting while you're angry.  Express that you are angry and then take responsibility for it by walking away and coming back when you are connected with the feelings and needs underneath the anger.

If the parent in the example above came back later and started a NVC dialogue, it might sound like this,

"Hey guys, I am calmer now, would you be willing to sit down with me and talk for ten or fifteen minutes.  I am really wanting us to get along around this cleaning issue."

(teenagers agree to ten minutes).

"When I see the state of the living room, I feel tired and frustrated because I am wanting to feel comfortable at home and a clean orderly house really helps.  I want to be sure I am being clear.  Could you tell me what you understood me to say?"

This is just the beginning of a dialogue.  The emphasis here is on dialogue.  That is, you're expressing your feelings and needs and in a space to hear theirs.

Take a moment to think about the last time you felt angry.  How could you have expressed that anger in a way that expressed your needs without making someone wrong?

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2 Responses

  1. Jul 18, 2009
    arno struzina


    so much to learn here
    so much to let go
    at 75 i wonder have i got time


  2. Jul 20, 2009

    Dear Arno,

    Yea, sounds like you have a sense of what is possible and the depth and breadth inspires even as it brings up overwhelm.

    I am hoping the the learning itself can be fun, whether or not you reach some standard of mastery around it or not.

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