This is my all time favorite example of Compassionate Communication so I will start with it and then share the lesson.
A Mom was coming home from a 4 day “locked in” workshop with Prison Inmates. She had been the leader of the training. She was exhausted.
At her home was her grown son, who was stranded during a business trip by coming down with Chicken Pox and with a 10 day old infant and just delivered wife at his home, rather than infect them with illness, he had asked to stay at his mother’s house for recovery.
Observation: Mother, “When I come in the door, I see a suitcase open on the floor, the TV on, a sock on the dining table, shoes in the middle of the floor and son blanketed on the couch,
Guessing at feelings: Mother,” I am thinking you must be feeling very ill, feverish and sad to be away from your new baby and wife and that you need some TLC?”
Son, “I am feeling rather helpless when I cannot be home helping out. I am angry about being ill”
Needs & Values: Mother, “I am in need of order, cleanliness and peace, while I go and take a shower and put my things away,………….
Request: “…….. would you be willing to pick up your clothing and create some order in this space?”
When the Mother came back she found that the room had been picked up and the table set and order had been restored. She found that her needs had been met for order, and cleanliness and she began nurturing her son’s needs by making him dinner and listening.
This lesson of Nonviolent Communications is about the 4th part of the communication, which is making a request.
NOT A DEMAND – once someone hears a demand they turn on a defensive posture right away. It is just human nature. Most likely, you will not get your needs met nor will the person you are attempting to connect with and have a complete communication.
Years ago if I had come home exhausted to such a messy situation, I probably would have fallen apart and cried – which would have been construed as making a demand!
The difference with a REQUEST is that the person issuing the request must not expect any action in return, unless that action is taken with a willingness and openness to fulfill that request for your joy and contentment and to meeting a need.
Because we live in a demand and control society, it will take a while for folks to figure this out and hear a request as a request and not as a demand.
If you find the person you are talking with always hears a demand, then simply make the request, “Would please repeat to me in your own words what I have just said to you?”
“It seems to me you are hearing this as a demand? How might I help you hear this as a request?”
There are other parts to this equation and compassionate language of connection, such as “the protective use of force, empathy and gratitude, and assisting others in recognizing their needs and feelings,”
I make a great many demands on myself and have found using the nonviolent communications model has greatly improved my understanding and getting my own needs met.
My primary source of this information has been Dr. Marshall Rosenberg’s workbook on Nonviolent Communications, 8 years of being in practice groups, and teaching workshops, along with practicing with myself and my family. I am not a certified instructor.
Many schools are now using Rosenberg’s methods of communicating and I am excited that it is proving to be so worthwhile.
Do you believe we need more instruction on conflict resolution in our families our communities? How could we train more teachers in these models and should we? I have found this model to be very helpful in assisting people in healing and finding peace within themselves, what do you think?