Cannot say how much this stuff has improved my life, Scotter. I have a lot of difficulty keeping in the NVC ‘mode’ because so much of my day to day life is based off of meetings with customers that more than anything else feel contentious.
I often use NVC with customers and they love the forthrightness, the knowledge that they’re being heard, and the fact that they can bring up topics that would often result in knee-jerk defensiveness from many of the other solution providers.
When I use NVC in my work environment, I produce more and better work because I’m able to hear things that people don’t exactly say and come to helpful conclusions and action items instead of spending time talking past each other.
It is also disarming to customers who come to meetings seemingly desiring to bring up topics and talk in a way that might encourage defensiveness and conflict; it gives me a strategic leg up when I am seemingly unflappable and am able to in a neutral, nonjudgmental, magnanimous fashion come to conclusions about what the customer is trying to say.
In my personal life, because of the way I was brought up (in my home environment as a child, language was used to control: shame, humiliate, lower self-worth. Conversation and interaction were vehicles to tunnel a meta-conversation that was a power struggle of individuation vs. Control, a “take that!” mechanic to see who could get the last word) I often enter into conversation thinking of it as a contest with “winners” and “losers” where something is at stake, where something will be gained or lost.
When I use NVC in my personal life, I can examine the feelings behind the words that I want to say and decide if they are coming from a positive or a negative place; it can act as a gatekeeper, if you will to make sure that I am going to say something that expresses my rich inner world and comes from a positive, productive place so that my real adult needs can be met and not the needs of my childhood defense and survival mechanisms.
On the other side of the coin, I can also analyze what other people say; I can try to descry where it’s coming from; is it coming from a place of hurt? Is it coming from a need to feel superior? When I do this, its so very difficult for a conversation to escalate into angry words. It makes the seas smooth and it makes stormy seas easier to navigate because your mental hands are fixed on the rudder; you’re concentrating on where you want to go instead of letting the sea toss you around where it will.
Yes, like anything worth reaching for, it’s a struggle but it is a worthwhile one. I am sometimes almost moved to tears (and have to turn my head away so they other person cannot see my eyes moisten!) whenever I feel that jolt of happiness that we all feel when we think we have been heard and understood, and the same thing happens when I feel that I’ve penetrated the miasma of negative emotion that sometimes surrounds and subsumes someone’s words and real emotions and feel connectedness.
It is something so incredibly special to see someone’s face soften when they realize that you have the ability to weather the storm of raw emotion and see at least to some degree the motivation behind the words that they say, when you can understand the message that’s been hidden in the medium. Sometimes it is almost like the way that people speak is a cipher and NVC is the key.
I would say that what has become more automatic is the knowledge that I can use NVC in any particular situation to improve an encounter’s outcome, to make it productive for everyone involved. Because of the stuff that I said in the first paragraph (so far up there! lol!), I have a naturally competitive spirit; it’s easy for me to get my Irish up when I enter critical conversations or situations. That still happens, and it might always, but now I have a small companion voice in my head that reminds me to slow down and pay attention.
Small steps over a long period of time (was it 2010 I first came to your workshops?) but you know, that two years would have passed anyway; and where would I be now if I’d never tried?