1. Assume positive intention of the other person.
Know that the other person is always trying to achieve something life affirming. Even if they go about it in ways that have a further impact on you.
When someone does something I find challenging to receive, I find it incredibly helpful to ask myself ‘What are the very good reasons that so and so is doing this?’ This question validates the actions of the other person.
This assumption helps us to genuinely consider the perspective of the other person, and possibly ‘step into their shoes’. This is about empathic understanding.
2. Name impact clearly
I will encourage you to name impact in the following way:
1. Naming what happened – what the other person said or did.
2. Focus on the impact on you, (rather than focussing on the other person)
3. Focus on your values or what is important to you that wasn’t lived up to in the situation
Eg, when I read this email, I felt hurt and angry because being included and hearing from everyone is so important to me.
The reason this is helpful is that it focusses fully on you, what happened to you, the impact on you and on your values. If this gets heard, then you and your experience is validated.
If,on the other hand, you spend your time saying that what the other person has done is wrong or outrageous or whatever, you spend your energy focussing on them. Your experience actually gets lost.
I’m trying to give more space to your experiences. This is how reconciliation and healing can happen.
3. Hear impact without reacting
I’ll often invite people to reflect back what they are hearing during a conflict support session.
• I’m hearing you say that ….
• Don’t follow it with .. but… (that undoes all your work of listening!)
• Don’t follow it with your perspective immediately.
• Check that this is accurate if necessary. This means the person speaking feels you are listening to them.
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I've got a little pack of Flower Essence cards made by the Findhorn Foundation. Each one has a picture of a plant, the plant’s name, a quality that this plant evokes and a sentence affirming this quality. I pick a card a day or whenever I need to and a life affirming quality comes into focus for me. Today I picked GORSE – Joy – I live my life with joy and passion. Other cards show that GARDEN PEA is associated with Expression, HAZEL is associated with Freedom and SPOTTED ORCHID is associated with Creativity.
For me, there is a resonance between the qualities shared in the Findhorn Flower Essence system and the ‘human needs’ that Marshall Rosenberg catalogued as he went about creating Nonviolent Communication.
As we get deeper and deeper into chaos, polarization, confusion and inequality on a societal level, these qualities - through whatever system or modality that is harnessing them - are touchstones or guiding inner resources that I absolutely know the felt sense of because I will have experienced each of them at some point in my life. I can actively recall these experiences in order to reconnect to the quality right now. This supports me, when on one level, I am faced with overwhelm and a sense of powerlessness about the state of the world. Holding awareness of these qualities gives me an anchor, a resource, some relief and a little bit of juice to move forward.
I bring focus to this similarity between the list of Needs in the Nonviolent Communication system and the Qualities in the Findhorn Flower Essence system because I’m very interested in the places where different traditions meet. I imagine that someone who might have never heard of Nonviolent Communication might see this connection and feel a spark of opening towards it; similarly someone who might have never heard of the Findhorn flower essence system, might suddenly feel a resonance with this earth-connected spiritual system. Both systems have a fundamentally spiritual basis.
Here is a link to the Findhorn Flower Essences website
Here is a link to NVC UK website where you can get Feelings and Needs cards
Here are the Human needs outlined in the modality of Nonviolent Communication (NVC)