News & Events

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Wednesday
Feb062013

Non-Violent Communication Mini-Course 

Join me for a no-cost mini-course on the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) Solution. I am facilitating this session as part of the One Billion Rising movement.

When: February 14, 2013, 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Where: United Church of Tallahassee - 1834 Mahan Drive
Sign Up: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2822388841#

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

This ‘taste of’ event offered in conjunction with the One Billion Rising event where ONE BILLION women and those who love them are invited to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. Be a part of this movement and take advantage of a no-cost way to become involved in NVC.

Come as you are, with an open mind!

More Information >

Thursday
Nov292012

Empowering your Conflicts with Empathy

One of the key components of having effective communication is nurturing the ability to hear and give empathy to the other when in conflict. I think this is where the magic comes in and where all the retraining for human beings must take place before we can have a truly peaceful world. I’ve been working hard at growing this capacity for myself and it has been THE most difficult, trying and rewarding experience of my life. I’ve been my own guinea pig on the path of peace. Is it possible to be in a scary, hostile, triggering conversation and actually be present to the other person? Yes! Is it possible to go from wanting to scream my head off and say some really nasty things about the other to actually having a back and forth conversation where I understand them and they get me? Yes! Am I able to do this all the time, right in the moment? Not always right in the heat of the moment. But, luckily I have learned to WAIT (stands for Why Am I Talking, i.e. shut up now) and there is usually another opportunity to talk about it. I find that I have a lot of success during these second chances, and giving empathy to the other is the main ingredient for these victories of peace.

How is it possible? Awareness and practice, practice, practice. The empathetic process of being present, understanding, and figuring out the need of the other IS a skill that most of us do not use (especially when we are upset), though we like to think that we do. In heated moments, we tend to defend, argue, explain, question, make our own case, but rarely do we stay present to the other and listen for his needs. Think about your last argument. If you pay attention to your own mental processes during an argument, I bet that rather than listening to the other, really trying to get him, you are already rehearsing what you want to say in your defense.

In the communication process that I teach (based on Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. Non Violent Communication), we literally practice – over and over again – the empathetic response, so that when a difficult situation occurs, my students have the ability to respond differently than in the past.

This ability to respond with empathy has miraculous outcomes – honestly. Even with my poor memory, I can think of every time I’ve been in a triggered situation and listened with presence to the other because the situations turned around for the better every time AND ended in connection rather than the opposite. The trick is to learn the skill and practice it over and over again – so that it has a chance of actually occurring in a live situation. This is the way to building real, concrete peace in our world… one person at time learning and using empathy in conflict situations. It is my greatest dream to empower more and more people with this ability.

Saturday
Nov102012

Read this Article to Help Unite our Country!

Outwitted by Edwin Markum

He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle and took him in!

I woke up way too early this morning – thinking about this past week’s election. I was on “the winning side” and my heart has been celebrating quite a lot. There was even something enjoyable about seeing the “other side” up in arms. I loved seeing Carl Rove on Fox News squirm as he watched the election results come in. But herein is where the problem lies; the hate in my own heart is what keeps the insanity going. Most of us give lip service to wanting greater unity and discourse in politics, but our politics are merely a mirror of the individuals it serves – a collective conscious of individual consciousness. So, if we want change to happen, we must first be that change ourselves. (Gandhi is overused, perhaps, but dead on.) That sounds so idealistic and it is definitely easier said than done, but I propose a little experiment just to test this theory of being the change to bring about the transformation we seek.

Surely you know someone on “the other side.” As part of this experiment, seek him out and just listen. Do not debate, do not roll your eyes, do not question, don’t even commiserate – just be present to his pain. Listen for the need underneath everything he shares. Here is a list of universal human needs. I guarantee this person is hurting and if you can hear past his strategy (that likely conflicts with your own) and hear the need, there is the possibility for connection and maybe even the gift of softening your own anger. This will be very difficult. As you listen, you will likely have a huge urge to respond as usual – a tug in your heart to make your case and to have understanding from him. This is where your work comes in; this is where the possibility for change can happen. Einstein said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking.” It will take a totally different way of being with one another for things to change in our society. If we want our politics to heal, we (ourselves) must first learn to connect with “the other.”

Let this person talk for as long as necessary and you remain present. When he is done, let him know that you really hear his longing for – whatever need you have uncovered. Let him know that you get it, you get his need and that it is difficult to hear his pain because you want love and joy and belonging for everyone. End on that – it is the truth! No need to debate.

Here is a little tip when the conversation gets hard and you notice yourself wanting to defend. Ask yourself “what in this person hurts so badly that he thinks he must hurt me or ‘my side’ in order to heal?” If you can go to this question, right in the moment of wanting to smack him silly, you will have a great opportunity to touch his humanity. In that moment, there is the possibility for a whole new world.

By the way, if you want to learn how to stay present in moments when you are pissed, please come to one of my NVC trainings. I long to create a world where everyone has this skill. My next training is December 8-9 in Tallahassee, FL.

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