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Responding to Arguments Against NVC

 A gem reader recently wrote: "In the experience I had, a woman said that she felt I was suggesting NVC "as a way to avoid confrontation", adding that she feels she "has the courage to deal with things directly". 

 Our gem reader asked,  "How do you handle statements that position NVC as an avoidance of conflict?"

 The first thing I do any time someone offers an argument against what I am suggesting is listen with empathy. In the woman's comment I hear an expression of nervousness and possibly anger.  I am guessing she values honesty and authenticity.  In addition, when she heard our gem reader suggest NVC, she may have interpreted that she was being judged as incompetent in communication.  If this is true, she may have felt angry and defensive wanting acceptance and appreciation for what she has to offer.

As I was teaching a NVC workshop last weekend, I was surprised at the number of times students wanted recognition for the skillful ways they were already creating connection and resolving conflict in their lives.  I was happy to reassure them that in offering NVC I was not intending to discount the skills and understanding they already possessed.  In a workshop setting this was pretty easy to do.  In personal situations it can be more difficult.

In the example our gem reader offered I am reminded of an important NVC mantra - empathy before education.  The woman's response let's us know that more trust and connection is needed in the relationship before she can take the risk of trying something new.

Another difficulty arises when you identify your way of talking as you, hearing someone suggest that you talk differently can be perceived as a rejection of who you are.  This is why it's especially important that when offering NVC to others you first establish a connection in which the other trusts that you see and value them as a person.

This week notice even a small instance where someone argues with something you suggest.  Experiment with offering empathy (reflecting back the feelings and/or needs you guess you're hearing or expressing) or simply asking the other person what's most important to them in this situation.

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4 Responses

  1. Apr 22, 2010

    Dear Lashelle
    Another important post from you that addresses an issue we nvc practitioners face alot of the time. Authenticity seems to be a great need in communication, maybe it's something you can talk about to use nvc in an authentic connected way.Thank you!

  2. Apr 22, 2010
    Mark Hashizume

    I totally agree on empathy before education. I wonder how does one get to having empathy. There are more times than not that I am not inclined to give empathy.

  3. Apr 22, 2010
    Tam An Tran

    Dear LaShelle,

    As a result of ongoing difficulties with people I really care about and am unable to even get them to keep promises made without them then saying I have harrassed them, I have decided that in my best interest - the hurt of not being heard, etc. is affecting my spiritual practice and some of my interpersonal relationships is that I have decided to start writing about my spiritual experiences, both painful and joyful ones, by using giraffe language and showing it to my spiritual Teachers for their comments.

    I have found it so important to also use the royal 'we' in suggesting ways in which we can have happier lives and benefit all sentient beings through our thoughts, speech and actions.

    Anyway, LaShelle, as one whom i know and appreciate the help and 'classes' I've had from you, i would like to share my first essay when i get around to finishing it enough for feedback. I want to use this first such essay as a basis of a book and perhaps study guide in helping others as well as myself. It will be a 'secular' approach to Buddhism as it is meant to be read by anyone interesting in true happiness.

    This is the first time, as you know that I have responded to any of your beautiful 'Wise Heart Gems' because, perhaps I feel more confident in my ability to do such a thing and share it with you. Thanks!

    Tam An

  4. Apr 24, 2010

    Yea Mark my guess on what keeps anyone from wanting to give empathy is that they haven't received enough empathy and/or healing themselves.

    Congratulations Tam an

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