Tuesday
Jul232013

Entering Rumi's Field through Non Violent Communication

This is a "guest blog" from one of my students.  Hope you enjoy.

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field, I’ll meet you there.”  Rumi

NVC is a process of communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg.  Nonviolence is more than an absence of physical harm, it is a way to communicate with compassion from the heart.  The process helps us transform old patterns of defensiveness and aggressiveness into compassion and empathy.  It helps us remain focused on what is happening right here, right now.  It has 4 main components:  (1) Observation (2) Feeling (3) Needs (4) Request.  I will illustrate the effectiveness through a recent incident at work.

Just a little background to this story so you have a better understanding of the dynamics in the situation.  I grew up in an anti-religion household, and chose a spiritual path that focus on acceptance and compassion for all beings.  I also chose to hang out with people with similar believes that all beings are good, but their goodness might be covered up by dark clouds.  I have been rather sheltered in my loving, compassionate worldview. 

A couple of months ago I started working at the _____ office, and was paired with more senior attorney who has very “traditional” Catholic believes.  I’ll call this attorney Frank.  Frank is very knowledgeable and an impressively good attorney, and I felt blessed to be paired up with him.  However, I was a little shocked and uncomfortable when he talked about his believes. 

One day, we were having lunch together.  He had a meal replacement bar, and I was having salad.  He was impressed with my healthy diet, and started talking about how he eats lots of wheat and beans because he purchased pounds of wheat and beans just in case the government fails, and he has to eat what he buys.  Next thing you know, he was talking about how there are many signs the government is failing, such as: 

  • ·       Openness to homosexual relationships
  • ·       High rate of divorce
  • ·       Lack of faith in God.

I became uncomfortable and dashed out of the room with some lame excuse of having to use the restroom - not a skillful way to handle the situation, but I just needed a minute to breathe.  Thankfully, Frank gave me a second chance to handle the situation better.

Later that afternoon, he asked me if the conversation we had earlier made me feel uncomfortable.  I decided to utilize my nonviolent communication training in hopes of having a honest, compassionate conversation with him regarding the issue.  I took a deep breath and went through the 4 components of NVC: 1) Observation 2) Feelings 3) Needs 4) Request. 

Observation
My “typical” thought was how did I get stuck with this religious freak who hates everyone who does not fit into his box?  Doesn’t he see that it is people like him that is causing the hatred and division we see on the news everyday?

WAIT – these are all judgments and stories in my head.  What actually happened?  He told me about his belief that the government is failing, and his belief of the cause of the failure. 

Feeling
I observed sensations in my body, and my feelings and realize that when he said homosexuals and divorced people is the cause of our governmental failure, I felt angry and afraid.  

Needs
Needs are not things like a fast car, a hot date, or lots of money.  Those are methods to meet one’s needs.  For example, a fast car may meet one’s need for power, a hot date – to meet someone’s need for sexual connection, lots of money – to meet one’s need for independence, comfort, and/or security.

The reason I felt angry and afraid when Frank talked about how homosexuals and divorces are causing our government to fail was because such statements do not meet my need for inclusion, harmony, emotional safety, and acceptance.

After taking an inventory of my observation, feelings, and needs, I told Frank that when he speaks of government failure because of social acceptance of homosexuals and divorces, I feel angry and afraid because such statements do not meet my need for inclusion, harmony, emotional safety, and acceptance.  I made a request to Frank to speak about happier matters, such as good things that are happening in our society.

To my surprise, Frank actually agreed with me and said the Bible actually instructs people to think only good thoughts, and he started telling me about good news – such as actions of certain saints.

Later that week, I worked through the situation again during a NVC practice group.  The instructor role played the situation with me and I realized that Frank has his believes to fulfill similar needs as mine – he believes that a tight family unit without divorce and clear expectations of society (i.e., heterosexual relationships only) would fulfill his need for security, harmony, and acceptance.  Through the NVC process – I entered Rumi’s Field, where there is no ideas of wrong doing and right doing.

Nonviolent communication is a process to communicate with yourself and others compassionately from the heart.  The process has been proven successful in the workplace, in family settings, and even in negotiations between warring nations.  The process is simple and consists of 4 main components: 1) Observation 2) Feeling 3) Needs 4) Request.  Practicing NVC in your daily life surely leads you to Rumi’s Field where right doings and wrong doings do not exist.    

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Reader Comments (1)

Thank you for the informative article. Communication is the foundation for everything we do in the workplace. It happens every day, all the time. Classrooms, marriages, the public sector, and the workplace - there's no place where we don't seem to need more and better communication. It is a big part of our success in anything, including business and leadership. But why is it so hard? For one thing, there are different kinds of communication and communication techniques have evolved with technology.

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