Nonviolent Communication

Today began a three-day workshop on nonviolent communication based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg.  Sunil Britto is the facilitator for the workshop.

He began by showing how violence can result from people not getting their needs met.  In fact, he said that nobody’s needs get met unless everybody’s needs get met.  When this happens people tend either to dominate or move to submission, while others simply withdraw.

Sunil then went on to organize a role play where the participants expressed their feelings in the context of a conflict and then linked the feelings with the unmet needs.  In this exercise the participants were exposed to a wide emotional vocabulary, and this helped broaden people’s ability to describe how exactly they were feeling.

Using the metaphor of the giraffe and the jackal, Sunil described how the giraffe has the biggest heart of land animals and has the ability to take a bird’s eye view of life due to their height!  In addition they can manage to eat from the acacia tree despite the many thorns on the branches – surely a good metaphor for the person who manages conflict.  The jackal, on the other hand, is more inclined to attach, ambush and destroy. He hunts in packs and is ready to feed on the dead meat of animals.  Again, a good metaphor of the aggressive and violent approach to life

Sunil explained how we often use the word ‘I feel’ when in fact we are thinking!  The only way we can justifiably use ‘I feel’ is when we immediately follow it with an emotion.  So, ‘I feel that you are wrong’, is a judgment while ‘I feel angry’ is describing an emotion.

Sunil also introduced the four agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz by focusing on the agreement:Be Impeccable with your word.  In this he was showing how gossip and negative talk becomes toxic both for the speaker and for the listener.

Continuing with feelings, Sunil invited the Brothers to ‘sculpt’ their feeling in an attempt to show that we can judge how people are feeling by their gestures, facial expressions or bodily structure.

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