News & Events

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How to Handle Awkward Conversations?

Do you ever find yourself in awkward conversations with friends or family where they are putting someone down or voicing an opinion that is uncomfortable for you?  What to do?  Until now, most of us have had one of three options. Choice #1:  Change the subject as quickly as possible or remove yourself.  “Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom.”  Choice #2: Joke about it. Choice #3:  Go along to get along.  You know what that looks like.  You put a fake smile on and you go into agree mode – even if something in you doesn’t feel totally honest.  After all, how else CAN you respond?  So you kind of skirt the conversation as best you can but every now and then say something that you don’t actually mean.  That’s painful right?  

I recently had one of these experiences.  Friend A was voicing her opinion/concern about another friend of mine (Friend B) who is in the midst of building a mansion.  I, too, had a lot of uncomfortable feelings just after viewing the construction site.  It took me a while to figure out the needs related to my discomfort.  I felt happy for Friend B because I know she works hard, and I want all of us to celebrate her success.  On the other hand, I had thoughts about inequity and global resources and found myself mourning awareness, care, and shared values. 

I think Friend A was concerned about these things as well and she went on to say things like, “I just don’t know.  If I had that money, I just don’t think I would spend it like that.”  There was more said, but you get the point.  I was left frozen.  I could agree but I really wanted to avoid judgmental comments, or I could just change the subject (which would have been difficult and awkward) or perhaps make a joke, which has never been my forte’.  So I did that thing of kind of agreeing but not feeling totally cool about it.  Yuck!!  Was there a way to respond without judgment and with an ability to hold everyone with dignity?  

After the fact, I realized there was another response which would have been more connecting for all and more in integrity with how I want to show up in the world and in daily interactions.   In NVC I actually teach empathy – being present, understanding, and listening for the need underneath all the words.  Darn – how could I forget that?  The good news is that there will always be another opportunity – another time when I’m in one of those awkward conversations, and as I grow with the NVC process I have hope that I will remember this option more often than not.  Besides, now I have a story to share with the hope that you can live through me and remember the empathy a bit quicker in your own evolution.  Here’s to peace – internal, external, worldwide! 


Even a 5 Year Old Can Give Empathy! Can You?

A former student of mine posted the following experience on my Facebook page a couple of weeks back. 

I received some empathy from my 5 year old last night, which made me think of NVC. Boy W is in the tub and I walk in and say in an exasperated and melodramatic voice, "There's water all over the floor!!" And he looks at me for a few seconds and replies, "You're tired?" I had to smile at his wisdom and natural empathy. 

Wow, it’s actually in our nature to give empathy, and sadly somehow we lose that capacity over time - especially when we have an experience of “being attacked.”  Yet, it is this core practice which can stop conflict in its tracks.  I’ve seen this magic over and over again in working with others and experienced it first-hand in my own interactions.  Honestly, the NVC process is the most powerful way I have seen to make peace go from this abstract concept to a real world, concrete, in our daily lives experience. 

To that end… my mission continues! 

I have so much going on to help our NVC community continue to blossom.  Please join me or send people to join me to any/all of the following events.  My next Communication Solution Intensive is June 22 and 23.  You can see more details to the left of this writing as well as a link to sign up.  I also have a Taste of NVC Event coming up this week and the ongoing weekly practice session

Lastly, just want to share that I will be teaching NVC for 10 weeks at the Palmer Monroe Teen Center to approximately 30 teens who have been referred by the Juvenile Justice system to the Community Connections program which is run out of the Teen Center.  This is a dream come true for me – to be able to share NVC with individuals and plant these skills of peace and connection at a ripe age.  Please send loving thoughts as I take this ride; I’m guessing it may be challenging and I’m so grateful that I have NVC skills to navigate the journey.


A "Taste of" Compassionate Communication - Mini Course

Join me for a $10  mini-course on the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) Solution. I am facilitating this session in particular for people who have been interested in knowing a little more about the NVC process and who have been “on the fence” to sign up for a Weekend Intensive.

When: June 12, 2013, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: Unity Eastside – 8551 Buck Lake Drive
Sign Up:

Non-Violent Communication helps you:

  • Free yourself from the effects of past experiences and cultural conditioning
  • Break patterns of thinking that lead to arguments, anger and depression
  • Resolve conflicts peacefully, whether personal or public, domestic or international
  • Create social structures that support everyone’s needs being met
  • Develop relationships based upon mutual respect, compassion, and cooperation

If you have heard about NVC and want a first-hand experience with the process, this is a perfect opportunity to learn more. Be a part of this movement and take advantage of a low-cost way to become involved in NVC.