Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

Do cop killers really exist?

He is a cop killer.

The trial prosecutor wants him dead: “He’s a really bad guy”. And so it is.

We execute Licho Escamilla Wednesday October 14.

Cop killers never get a stay.

But is he a cop killer?

Well, yeah!!!

He shot an officer in the back of his head, three times. That pretty much makes him a cop killer, doesn’t it?

Nonviolent Communication teaches to value observations, as if you are a fly on the wall recording what’s happening, without emotional attachment about what is recorded. NVC distinguishes observations from interpretations, judgments, or evaluations. These judgments include our thoughts about what someone is doing, instead of an objective description of the specific action in this moment, in this place. They often confuse the part for the whole, generalizing the specific action as to the way of being of a person. He is a “thief” versus “someone who took the $50 that I thought was mine off the table this last Saturday”. And when we label people, we divide them into two categories: good and bad. Licho Escamilla is a bad guy, and doesn’t deserve our consideration. Thich Nhat Hanh is a good guy and deserves our care.

Yes. Licho Escamilla killed someone who earned a living as a cop.

All that is true. And it is not complete. No truth is true, as long as it is not complete. Yes, Licho Escamilla shot Christopher K. James to death. And he is also someone wanting to be held, loved and cared for. He is a human being with feelings and needs. He is more than the killing. He shot a cop in a specific place and time. Once. He is not a cop killer. He is someone who had no clue how to support his needs and ours at the same time. Someone who was so stuck in the habit of expressing his unmet needs in tragic ways, that he ended up killing another human being.

As soon as we see Licho Escamilla as more than this action, we see the human being who needs our help. That doesn’t only humanize him, it humanizes us. We get to stop playing God and carry the burden of deciding who is right and who is wrong, who deserves our love and who doesn’t. We return to our human state.

We acknowledge that we are more than our judgments, interpretations, and evaluations.

You want to practice observations? Contact me 512-589-0482 for a free discovery session to see how I can help.

This is the fourth blog around “us-versus-them”. Contact me if you have a topic or issue you would like me to write about.

No! No more Nonviolent Communication!

Rejection therapy, a 30-day journey for cowards” “No, that’s not a good title,” says my inner critic, “cowards is a label. There are no cowards, only people who sometimes are too scared to act according to their values, and regret that later.” “But I like the title. It’s catchy. My audience will resonate with it. People who label themselves as cowards, and want to be courageous.” “Yes, that’s exactly it. It divides the world in cowards and hero’s, this against that. It reinforces the fallacy of dualism, and forgoes the insight of oneness.” Silence. She continues “When -by the way- did you forget the lesson about ‘but’? That it diminishes the likelihood of collaboration and increases the likelihood of antagonism? Don’t you remember what Marshall Rosenberg said? ‘Never put your but in the face of an angry person’?” I remember vaguely. I know it’s true. And yet, I like the title so much. Even if it divides the world into cowards and hero’s.

I am done with always having to speak perfect Nonviolent Communication. Sometimes I want to use labels. He is an asshole, she is pretty, Kiran is adorable. Yep, as if I am God, judging who is right, who is wrong, who’s good, who’s bad. It seems much more efficient than: “When I hear Kiran say ‘Elly, watch me, I can do a cart wheel!’, and I see him put his hands on the floor, flip his legs over, land on the floor and jump up and down smiling (“My goodness, even ‘smiling’ is an interpretation! If I was a fly on the wall and had no clue about human interactions, I could not use that description. I would say something like: ‘the corners of his lips curl up, his teeth show, his cheeks rise’. You see what a drag it is to describe events in strict observations!”), I feel touched and amused, because I have a need for…”

I stumble. Which needs are nurtured when I see Kiran’s pride and happiness with his accomplishments? I don’t know! I just find him adorable! Why can’t that be enough? Why do I have to know the needs underneath my label? My critic doesn’t give up. “It helps you to connect with what’s alive in you, what’s important to you. Remember what Socrates said? Gnōthi sauton? Know thyself? That’s the whole point of life. To know yourself.” I sigh. There is some truth in what she says. It might help me to understand myself better. What’s important to me. What my life is about. Gosh, wouldn’t that be a blast? To know what my life is about! Maybe I can start here. With my needs and values, and let life unfold itself. Now it’s not so complicated anymore. I have two different needs: I want easy connection and understanding, and I want to honor the fact that I am limited by my perspective. I am sure I can balance both needs. I just have to sit with it.