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You don't have to agree to be supportive

When your sister tells you what a jerk her partner is being and you say you agree, you're likely to get in trouble later when your sister and her partner have made up.

Collusion, aligning with someone against a "bad" other, is a costly strategy for showing support.  When you notice you are tempted to collude, it's a good time to fall back on the basics of Nonviolent Communication.

Basic #1: You don't have to answer questions literally.  In fact, answering a jackal* question just makes things worse.  If you feel yourself squirming when someone asks you a question, there's a good chance you are being pulled into jackal land.  Give yourself permission to take a breath and respond from your heart.

Basic #2:  When people are expressing emotional pain they almost always want connection first.

Basic # 2: When you want to create connection you have two choices; honest expression or empathy.

If you choose honest expression, you leave out your opinions and labels.  Instead you express your own feelings, needs, and request.  Using the example above, it might sound something like this:  "When I think about what happened, I feel frustrated and scared, because I care so much about you and want you to have your needs for consideration and respect met.  Is there anything I can do to help?"

If you choose empathy, you take a guess at your sister's feelings and needs:  "Sounds like that didn't meet your need for consideration?"

Just the other night someone asked me a collusion question, "Don't you think he's a difficult person?".  I was surprised and at first avoided the trap by saying "I don't know." This bought me a few minutes to connect with this person's heart.  I then made some empathy guesses.  I'm not sure how much empathy she took in, but I do know I was happy to be able stay in my heart and my integrity.

This week see if can spot collusion in your own or other's conversation.  Notice how your heart feels.

*Jackal is a term referring to any disconnecting thinking and language.

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2 Responses

  1. Apr 16, 2010
    robbie lapp

    Such timeliness for me as the Columbia River Peace Fellowship honors the 40th Earth Day with the 4 day Conference on Drones and Warfare in the midst of Blossom Festival and a support the troops rally.

    I sent this on to circle friends in the Peace Fellowship.

    For me the opportunity will be in sharing my home with three others for the conference. I feel excited and afraid as my needs for connection and self reflection will need a new balance.

    13 thank yous, Robbie

  2. Apr 20, 2010

    Wow Robbie inspired to this was of service and that you are spreading the compassion out into the larger community.

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