Nonviolent Communiation Course

The big thing that I’m excited about at the moment is Non-Violent Communication. The basic idea is that to resolve conflicts and differences of opinion you express your needs and the feelings that are associated with those needs, and empathise with the other persons needs, and from that a solution should fall out. Rather than blaming everyone else and making demands and judgements that are just going to put peoples back up and make it harder to resolve anything. Everyone has the same basic needs: food, shelter, love, understanding, companionship, etc. but people meet those needs in different ways leading to conflict. This ties in nicely with the Vipassana as they are both about stepping back when you get emotional, and making a space to think it through properly. This has really helped Lisa and me to understand each other better and get along with a LOT less friction.

We had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday. We were at the cottage and I’ve always had a problem with us cleaning the cottage together as before we start I’m usually stressed about getting it all done in time for the people coming in, and making sure we’ve thought of everything; I like to try and cover all of the bases, whereas Lisa, although very thorough when it comes to cleaning, isn’t as concerned about checking all of the little things like the heating timer, the radiator settings, etc.

So our usual dialogue would be:

A: Have you completed the check list for the bedroom?

L: Just leave me alone, I know perfectly well how to do this job. Why don’t you just concentrate on finishing off your own bits. That bathroom is really untidy, I don’t know how you can let people come in and use it like that.

A: LISA! We’ve got half an hour before the people come in. Why do you have to be so difficult? The bathroom is fine and I’m just asking you to tick a few boxes.

Etc, etc. So it had got to a point where I refused to do the change over with her. So applying a little NVC we finally arrived at a rough approximation of the following dialogue:

A: You’ve not completed the checklist for the bedroom yet. That’s a bit frustrating as I just like to have things done a particular way, so if you’d be willing to do that for me I’d really appreciate it.

L: Sure. And you’ve not put the cover on that chair the way I’d like which is a bit annoying as I like things done a particular way too, so if you’ve be willing to just redo that chair.

Now, that’s obviously a bit clunky and not the exact way it came out. But the breakthrough was, when we were both a bit stressed and under pressure to get the job finished, rather than taking the requests as the other person blaming us for not doing it properly – which is a biggy for us – we could “look through the words” and see that the other person just had a certain way they liked things done.

So there is hope for us yet!