Free Geek is a diverse and high energy environment. Our communication needs are constant and vast. Geeks are renowned throughout the world for their unusual and often awkward communication styles. This is one of the things that makes Free Geek so much fun! When we experience blockages in communication it is best to address them in a manner that is accessible and stress reducing. Non-violent communication is one way to achieve this.
What is Non-violent communication?
Non-violent communication (AKA compassionate communication) is a way of relating to others, moment to moment, free of past reactions. By learning to identify your needs and express them powerfully, as well as to bring understanding to the needs of others.
Compassionate communication's purpose is to: 1.create human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving 2.create governmental and corporate structures that support compassionate giving and receiving. NVC involves both communication skills that foster compassionate relating and consciousness of the interdependence of everyone's well being and using power with others to work together to meet the needs of all concerned.
This approach to communication emphasizes compassion as the motivation for action rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat or justification for punishment. In other words, it is about getting what you want for reasons you will not regret later.
NVC is NOT about getting people to do what we want. It is about creating a quality of connection that gets everyone’s needs met through compassionate giving, which is what Free Geek does everyday!
The process of NVC encourages us to focus on what we and others are observing separate from our interpretations and judgments, to connect our thoughts and feelings to underlying human needs/values (e.g. protection, support, love, geeking out), and to be clear about what we would like towards meeting those needs. These skills give the ability to translate from a language of criticism, blame, and demand into a language of human needs -- a language of life that consciously connects us to the universal qualities “alive in us” that sustain and enrich our well being, and focuses our attention on what actions we could take to manifest these qualities.
NVC offers practical, concrete skills for creating connections of compassionate giving and receiving based in a consciousness of interdependence and power with others. These skills include:
*1.Differentiating observation from evaluation, being able to carefully observe what is happening free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us; An example of this at Free Geek could be between a volunteer coordinator and an adoption volunteer:
- V- The card sorting station is a mess, I can't work here! (Evaluation)
- VC- Are you finding this station stressful? or is it something you are disinterested in working on? (Observing, asking to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us)
- V- Yes I find it stressful, its messy and I like order.
- VC- Well, there's two things we can do to make you happier, first we could move you to a more ordered station or we could find a way to order the station better. You seem like a person who enjoys organization, so perhaps you are the perfect person to improve this station for everyone.
- V- Thanks, I would love to reorganize this station.
*2.Differentiating feeling from thinking, being able to identify and express internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment; An example of this at Free Geek could be between two members of staff:
- Staff 1: You block everything at staff meetings! You're so difficult to work with because you never agree with anything I say! (Judgment, criticism, blame)
- Staff 2: I can hear that you are frustrated, can you tell me what it is that has frustrated you specifically?
- Staff 1: Yes I can, you blocked my holiday request at the staff meeting.
- Staff 2: Yes I did and I explained that we were understaffed that week, so thought it best for Free Geek if you didn't go on holiday.
- Staff 1: Okay, I know that but I still felt picked on.
- Staff 2: That was not my intention, I respect you and your work. I didn't want you to feel picked on. I'm sorry.
- Staff 1: Thank you for your apology. (Cue hug)
*3.Connecting with the universal human needs/values (e.g. sustenance, trust, understanding) in us that are being met or not met in relation to what is happening and how we are feeling; and
*4.Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we don’t want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving).
These skills emphasize personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others, as well as how to contribute to relationships based in cooperation and collaboration.
With NVC we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others, and to identify and clearly articulate what “is alive in us”. When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, needed, and wanted, rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC fosters respect, attentiveness and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
Who can benefit from using Non-violent communication?
The use of NVC does not require that the persons with whom we are communicating be literate in NVC or even motivated to relate to us compassionately. If we stay with the principles of NVC, with the sole intention to give and receive compassionately, and do everything we can to let others know this is our only motive, they will join us in the process and eventually we will be able to respond compassionately to one another. While this may not happen quickly, it is our experience that compassion inevitably blossoms when we stay true to the principles and process of Nonviolent Communication.
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