Helping Nonprofit Leaders Transform Conflict

Leadership Coach and Mediator

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.