This weekend I attended a course in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) at the Birmingham Buddhist Centre.

NVC is nothing to do with Buddhism per se (tho it does sit well alongside it). It was developed by an American, Marshall Rosenberg out of work he was doing with civil rights activists in the early 1960s.

I really enjoyed the weekend – both because I love learning within a supportive and respectful context such as the FWBO (a considerable contrast to some environments Ive tried to learn in before) and also because NVC seems like a very powerful set of tools. So much so that at the close of the session, many of the participants felt – amongst a range of reactions – a real sadness that they hadnt encountered it earlier on in their lives.

Briefly, introductory NVC covers three modes: Self Empathy, Expressing and Empathising. It recognises that communication is often an attempt to share feelings, which in turn arise out of our needs – these needs being universal amongst us all. By responding to the feelings and identifying the underlying needs its possible to devise a strategy that meets the needs of all concerned and if suitable – to express the strategy in the form of a request (not a demand, because a demand – a question to which there is only one acceptable response – does not meet the others need for autonomy and is thus rarely satisfying to either party).

It may seem a bit stilted and artificial to think and speak in this way to start, but for me it feels like a natural progression in the direction in which Ive been moving my way of communicating for a while, both in personal terms and in what I and others have been encouraging within contexts such as Project X Presents so its something I think I’m very likely to want to continue exploring.

Birmingham Thoughts

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