Bring your life into balance

Empathy works. It always does.


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Appreciation NVC-style (1/3)

“When we use NVC (=Nonviolent Communication) to express appreciation, it is purely to celebrate, not to get something in return. Our sole intention is to celebrate the way our lives have been enriched by others.” (Rosenberg, M, Nonviolent Communication, A Language Of Life, 2003, p. 186)

Appreciation NVC-style inspires us to express ourselves in a way that fully reveals our experience without judging others. We share the specific actions that contributed to our well-being, the needs that have been fulfilled, and the feelings engendered by the fulfillment of those needs. The focus is to create a clear understanding of how our life was enriched. The specifics of our observation and the honesty about our feelings and needs enhance the impact of our communication. The lack of judgement invites a shared acceptance and connection around the purity of the celebration.

12287525_910657528989506_173872630_oWhen our needs are unmet, requests help to ask for what we want.

When our needs are met, appreciation celebrates what worked for us.

Here is an example of what NVC-appreciation can sound like:

“When I saw your FB-message “You can absolutely use my cartoons! I just went to your blog and the cartoon looks so cute and I love your post! I’m thrilled that you like my cartoons enough to put some on your wonderful website.”, I felt excited, happy, and enthralled. It met my needs for support, creativity, and collaboration.”

Or, maybe less formal:

“Wow, I felt excited, happy and enthralled, when I read your FB-message. I so like the support, creativity and collaboration!”

Appreciation NVC-style might take more words. It might even be a bit more vulnerable to share our feelings and needs directly and honestly. I find NVC less gratuitous than praise (“You’re such an awesome person!” “That was a fantastic thing you did”), as it zooms in on the clarity of our experience and not on judging our supporter through praise. Marshall describes all “praise and compliments to be life-alienating;… it establishes the speaker as someone who sits in judgments.” (Rosenberg, M., p. 185)

We don’t want to sit in judgment. We want to be vulnerable and authentic. Appreciation takes us out of playing God. It brings us back to who we are and what we need. Appreciation helps deepen connection between two human beings who both have the power to enrich life and appreciate the contribution.


You want help to appreciate NVC-style? Contact me for a free, discovery session, 512-589-0482.

Thank you, Amy, for allowing me to use your cartoons on my website. I feel real excited to work together on a world with more compassion, empathy, and veganism! Add a link to RedandHowling, if you want to repost this cartoon.


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Requests are SMART (3/3)

What are requests?

Requests are an invitation to support our needs. After we have shared our observations, feelings and needs, we ask for what we imagine would meet our needs. Hearing feelings and needs without hearing requests is like living in hell. Hearing feelings, needs and a request empowers us to create heaven, because we understand how to contribute to the other person’s needs.

Danny Shanahan, New Yorker cartoonRequests are SMART

Specific:

We use specific language to ask for what we want, and avoid vague, abstract language. Instead of asking “I want you to be interested”, ask “Could you spend 30 minutes before 5:00 pm today listening to me and reflecting back what you heard me say?”

Measurable:

In the above example, we can check if our friend listened 30 minutes and reflected back what they heard us say.

If our request is specific and measurable, it helps us, because:

  • We know when our request is fulfilled or not fulfilled.
  • If it is fulfilled, we can express appreciation for the contribution the other person made.
  • If it is not fulfilled, we can ask the other person what stops them from fulfilling our request and engage in a collaborative dialogue to support their needs too.
  • It allows the other person to check if they can say ‘yes’: do I have half an hour available before 5:00 pm?

Achievable:

Ask a ‘do’, not a ‘don’t’. If I want to book a holiday for my friend and all she says is: “Not Syria”, would she be happy if I book a holiday to the slums of South Africa or organize a bike ride through the Netherlands? It is very hard to do a don’t.

Our request won’t work either if we know in advance it is hardly doable for the other person. Don’t ask me to listen to you for 10 hours. It will leave me exhausted. Ask for what is within my influence and capacity: an hour of solid empathy is probably doable.

Relevant:

When we connect to our feelings and needs, before we make a request, we increase the likelihood that we ask for something that is important to us.

Time oriented:

If we specify when we want our request to be fulfilled, we avoid the stress of not knowing when something will happen. A time specification gets us on the same time frame and helps both of us understand what we are saying ‘yes’ to. If I ask you to review my paper, and I don’t tell you when, you might get confused because you don’t know my sense of urgency and I might get stressed because I don’t understand why it takes so long (or surprised that it takes so short!).

SMART Requests help all parties to contribute to life and needs being fulfilled. Try it yourself!


You want help to make SMART requests? Contact me for a free, discovery session, 512-589-0482.


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Requests are not demands (2/3)

“We demonstrate that we are making a request rather than a demand by how we respond when others don’t comply. If we are prepared to show an empathic understanding of what prevents someone from doing what we asked, then by my definition, we have made a request, not a demand.” (Rosenberg, M, Nonviolent Communication, A Language Of Life, 2003, p. 80-81)

What are requests?

Requests are not about getting what we want. Requests are a suggestion of a specific strategy that supports an unmet need or needs. A request is an invitation to a dialogue that intends to meet all needs, not just our own. They are the cherry on the NVC-cake. Hearing feelings, needs and a request empowers us to respond effectively in a way that requires no compromise. Requests are about building an understanding relationship based in trust and a willingness (maybe even enthusiasm) to see and support all needs. And because we have an excitement to include their needs, we are willing to hear a ‘no’ to our request. Any ‘no’ is a wonderful opportunity to empathize with the needs behind the ‘no’.

Image courtesy Amy Luwis, http://redandhowling.blogspot.com/p/about.html

Requests versus demands

Sometimes we think we are making a request, when we actually are making a demand. How do we know we made a demand? By how we feel and think after we hear ‘no’. If we feel dejected, angry, disappointed, sad, we probably have made a demand. If we receive the “no” as a personal rejection, it’s probably a demand. If we interpret the “no” as an expression that we don’t matter, or as an insult, hum, yes, most likely a demand.

There is nothing wrong with demands.

It is part of our human fabric to want a ‘yes’. If we didn’t care about the answer, we probably wouldn’t have asked in the first place.

The trick is to recognize the feelings and thoughts when we hear ‘no’. When these feelings arise, our lesson is to know that we can shift our view of the other person: they are not an adversary or an opponent, they are a collaborator who can make life more wonderful!  We can shift from separation to collaboration.

To support this shift we can empathize with the ‘no’. We can ask: “Which needs are not met if you said ‘yes’?” Or we can make a guess: “Do you think this request would limit your autonomy?” “Do you want to be heard about your ideas?” When we empathize with the ‘no’ we expand our awareness of all needs. With a deeper understanding of what’s alive behind the ‘no’, we will be more successful in finding strategies that support all needs. We make decisions that are not only more inclusive, they are also more sustainable: all parties are enthusiastic to uphold our agreement because they had a voice in the design of it.


You want help with requests? Contact me for a free, discovery session, 512-589-0482.


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Requests are about building relationship, always

What are requests?

Requests are not about getting what we want, requests are an invitation to support our needs. After we share our observation, feelings, and needs, we tell the other person what we think might meet our needs. It could simply be “Could you reflect back what you heard me say?” when our main need is understanding. Or: “I wonder how this lands for you?”, when we want to connect. Or: “Are you willing to do the dishes before 8:00 pm tonight?”, if you want to include needs for support and rest.

Requests are the cherry on the NVC-cake. Hearing feelings and needs without hearing requests “is like living in hell.” Hearing feelings, needs and a request empowers us to respond effectively in a way that honors other’s needs and our own needs too.

Relationship, relationship, relationship

Requests are about building a relationship that is built in understanding, trust, and a willingness (maybe even enthusiasm) to support all needs on the table: mine and ours. We want to create a world of and-and, and get off the either/or wagon. We share our observation, feelings, and needs to help the other person understand where we are coming from and find merit in our perspective. Our request is an invitation to the other person to brainstorm strategies that support all needs: theirs and ours. And because we have an excitement to include their needs, we are willing to hear a ‘no’ to our request. A ‘no’ is just a wonderful opportunity to get to know the other person better and understand the needs behind their ‘no’.

A simple question

This can help: “If that doesn’t work for you, what can you imagine would work better for you, that would include my needs too?” For example: “I am noticing we are six days away before my brother arrives (observation). I feel overwhelmed and scared (feelings) when I think of all the cleaning I think needs to be done before he arrives (thought, impacting feeling). I have a need for support (need). Are you willing to vacuum clean the rooms before Tuesday 2:00 pm? And if that doesn’t work for you, what can you imagine would work better for you, that would include my needs too?” We engage the other person in finding strategies that support all needs, because we acknowledge both of us are in this relationship.

“The NVC process is designed for those of us who would like others to change and respond, but only if they choose so willingly and compassionately. The objective of NVC is to establish a relationship based on honesty and empathy. When others trust that our primary commitment is to the quality of the relationship, and that we expect this process to fulfill everyone’s needs, then they can trust that our requests are true requests and not camouflaged demands.” (Rosenberg, M, Nonviolent Communication, A Language Of Life, 2003, p. 81)


You want help with requests? Contact me for a free, discovery session, 512-589-0482.


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Empathy with my judgments

Remember The Corleones?  Sonny, the hothead, who gets killed in the Five Families War? Fredo, the traitor, who sells out his family to Hyman Roth and is killed for it by Michael’s gunman? Michael, the cold-headed strategist who is willing to order the killing of his older brother to protect his family? And then of course Vito, the first Don, the founder of this mafia empire.

20-corleone-familyWell, just so you know, they are living in my head.

All the time. And if not all the time, a lot of the time. They are ready to take down anyone they judge as a threat to the safety and well-being of the family. They will jump at you, drag you out of your house, roll you in a carpet and bury you under the concrete floor.

If I don’t listen to them and their judgments, if I don’t promise to include the values they stand for, well, heck, all hell breaks loose. At best they dominate all my thoughts and impact all my feelings, leaving me unable to share my truth in a way that supports understanding and collaboration. At worst, they hijack my vocal ability and speak in such unpleasant terms that any chance of understanding and connection evaporates. Most often, I am so scared they will strangle the person I have an issue with, that I withdraw and avoid any dialog.

For the longest time I have tried to pretend I wasn’t part of the Corleone family, that somehow I had nothing to do with their judgments and black-and-white thinking. It worked for a while, sitting on my meditation cushion, bringing my awareness to my breath. Till they found out I had excluded them and broke down the door of my meditation sanctuary.

They don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and only make offers I can’t refuse.

I have learned my lesson. I have accepted them as family, with their sensitivities for respect and safety. I call them out in a joint meeting, before I even think of addressing an issue with someone else. I sit us in a circle and invite each of them to speak. I listen with respect until they know I get them. And I don’t talk to the person I have an issue with, till they express their trust. Sometimes it is hard and it takes several rounds of empathizing with their perspectives and needs.

It is well worth it. I have clarity and peace of mind when I talk to this other person. I know how to include The Family’s and this other person’s needs.

And isn’t that what life is about: finding ways to support all needs?

I see my family nod in agreement.


 

You want to listen to the judgments in your head? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a free discovery session to see how I can help.