Nonviolent Communication

The Indian philosopher, Krishnamurti says the highest form of human intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating. That quote leads me to thoughts I had today, provoked by some comments made by a friend of mine as we were enjoying Sunday Brunch. Or, I had been enjoying the brunch until she began to extol her virtues without any provocation on my part. Her words came as a surprise to me because I never looked at her as having those particular virtues and I had to stop eating to take a moment to digest her words.

The text of the “thought bubble” over my head said, “Are you a space cadet? Get a grip on reality.” My face must have shown evidence of my discomfort as I forced myself not to make a sarcastic comment. I fought real hard. But then, as it happens in life, we do have some epiphanies. Mine was that behind every message, there are feelings and needs. It was a revelation to me, that all my friend needed was some sort of recognition and acceptance. Although I didn’t feel I had to agree with her on her most generous evaluation of her virtues. I would feel inauthentic if I did, but I knew I had to say something comforting. I was able to steer the conversation onto more safe territory when I dredged up a memory where she was, in fact, very helpful.

I use this example because it made clear to me something about myself, in that I can be too judgmental of people. I also learned there is a form of communication that is often referred to as nonviolent communication. It is an empathic form in which we learn to hear any message that comes back, as an expression of the other person’s feelings and needs. It’s a way of being conscious of the beauty within others and ourselves.

If you’re interested in the topic of nonviolent communication, check out a small book filled with big ideas by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D. called “Nonviolent Communication”.

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