Living Well

Unknown[1]No Judgment Zone

I am a student of relationships – sibling relationships; friendships; spousal relationships; parent-child relationships; neighborhood relationships; power relationships; workplace relationships; political relationships; spiritual relationships. I have studied and observed; read and taught; struggled and delighted; and have committed myself and my work to the healing of relationships and the development of life-giving, sustainable relationships that (in my mind at least) reflect the desire of God for us, God’s beloved.

Thanks to the recommendation of a friend and colleague, I discovered the work and teaching of Dr. Marshall Rosenberg in his book, Non-Violent Communication. While it might be easy, at first, to imagine that this book is for those who have a hair-trigger temper, or for those who live in violent and dangerous environments, it is – in fact – a book for all of us.

Rosenberg asserts that we do violence to relationships – even, and maybe often, those relationships most precious to us – by judging one another. It happens all the time, often in subtle ways; and without being aware, we erect defenses between ourselves and those around us to protect ourselves from the hurt – and violence – we experience when we are judged by another.

In some ways, it’s no surprise. Judgment happens all the time, all around us. We live in a world that values either/or, red/blue, liberal/conservative, right/wrong, in/out. We need only turn on the TV, the radio, or connect to the web, to hear rhetoric on all kinds of issues that underscores the value of ‘being in the know’, of winning, of having the final word, of getting what we want before someone else does.

I believe, though, that we all suffer from this way of being; this way of relating; this way of parsing the world. Most of all, our relationships suffer – and with that, our freedom to be fully human.

Rosenberg outlines a 4-step way of understanding and communicating that I have found to be both incredibly (and embarrassingly) hard, and powerfully life-giving. Here are the 4 steps:

  1. observations: the concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being
  2. feelings: how we feel (be specific here) in relation to what we observe
  3. needs: the needs, values, desires, that create our feelings
  4. requests: the concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives

Here’s an example:

When I’m talking and I get interrupted (observation), I feel anxious (feeling). I need to get my whole thought out (need). I’d like you to wait until I’m finished talking, and then give me a moment to make sure I’m done, before you speak (request).

This is very different than saying:

You always interrupt when I’m talking! I forget what I want to say. You really make me mad. I don’t want to talk any more.

If you’re anything like me, the first example sounds contrived, unnatural maybe. And the second example sounds sadly familiar. I can only say that my attempts at employing Non-Violent Communication (NVC) have brought about powerful shifts in my relationships. Check it out~

(For more information about NVC, check out Marshall Rosenberg’s workshops on YouTube.)

 

 


 

Upcoming Programs and Events

Taize Worship Service

Church of Christ, Lancaster, MA

Sunday, April 6 at 10:00 a.m.

 

Soul of Leadership: Taste and See Workshops

April 21 (9-3) at Rolling Ridge Retreat Center in North Andover, MA

May 10 (9-3) at Bethany House of Prayer in Arlington, MA

  • Do you seek a community of leaders with whom you can speak freely, explore organizational values and dream big?
  • Would you like to develop your leadership style through interaction with leaders in the forefront of energized and values-driven organizations?
  • Are you looking to deepen your own spiritual awareness and resources to sustain you through leadership and organizational challenges?
  • Would you like to develop communication skills that can guide your organization to better support and affirm all of its members?
  • Do you sense the need for change to help you break through to new possibilities?

Join me, and Dr. Margaret Benefiel, for a day-long workshop to explore these questions using tools, strategies and resources we will be offering in our upcoming 18-month Soul of Leadership program. For more information, go to: http://www.executivesoul.com/taste-and-see-workshop

 

1728 Coffee House

The First Congregational Church UCC, Holliston, MA

Custom Blend in Concert

Saturday, May 10 at 7:00 p.m.

 

Preaching in Worship

Acton Congregational Church

Sunday, June 15 at 9:15 a.m.

 

 

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Living Well

  1. Susie–I love this. All faculty at Hotchkiss are being asked to go through a NVC training–most specifically for classroom learning and teaching/evaluation–over the next few years. I have not done it yet, but will be learning more about it soon! It may seem contrived, but so much more useful for everyone involved. And, the more you use it, the less contrived it feels! Thanks for sharing! xox.

    • How great to know Hotchkiss is engaging NVC for use in classroom and teaching/evaluation. I look forward to hearing about your experience with it, and your overall sense of how it is being used on campus. Thanks, Annie!

  2. I love how you start this piece by talking about how you are a student of relationships, and then connect that to the power of nonviolent communication in all kinds of relationships. Like you, I find the NVC process so simple in concept, yet so (embarrassingly) hard in practice. A life-long journey of learning!
    Thank you, Susie.
    — Margaret

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s