It has been said that we reflect the five people we hang around with and the last five books we have read. I would put this book, Nonviolent Communication on my list of most important books of my life. Why? Because Marshall Rosenberg’s teaching about compassionate communication can improve all your communications, whether with your parent, your spouse or your boss. And I am it’s champion because learning about listening and expressing in this way imporved ALL the major relationships in my life for the better. This theory is about learning to listen with compassion so you really ‘get’ the other person and because of the feelings you express, they really ‘get’ you. Can you imagine a more wonderful experience?
I read the book and I signed up for a few months of groups sessions with a practitioner of this information in order to practice how to do it until it became natural for me, because this was not the way I learned to communicate. You have to put your training wheels on. I learned how to be vulnerable, as a giraffe with its neck out, and how not to judge and criticize, as a jackal might. We all learned to ‘feeling talk’, men and women alike. I grew up in a home with abuse and a strong authoritative parental model and I was defensive and angry as a young woman. Learning compassionate communications was a whole new and a brilliant idea that I saw deep value in and took to heart.
There are few more important things to do in life for the benefit of ALL your relationships that learn to be a better communicator and being a better communicator is about how well you listen and understand others. It has led to great joy and moments with friends and family that are rich, deep and satisfying.
These same techniques are used for peace talk around the world and within corporate environments as well. They can bring us together in order to tolerate, to understand and to embrace ideas that are outside our comfort zone. Fear often comes because we feel threatened by something we don’t understand. These techniques help bridge that gap and allow for understanding even if we don’t agree. They bring out the best in any conversation using them and allow people to express the feelings of their authentic selves in a safe environment of mutual respect.
Kathy Nelson is a Life Coach in San Diego