Last evening, my 7 year old son, started crying and it was quite unusual for him, the crying continued and he became more and more agitated…. tears and words were flowing non stop. I had no idea what triggered the outburst, but there he was blaming everything and everyone – sister, friends, teachers, mother – the whole world was at fault. I stopped and sat with him and started listening to him, except that this time, I decided to put into practice what I was learning. I started listening to something deeper than the words, I was listening to the feelings and needs behind the outburst, without blaming and judging. It took him exactly three minutes to vent out and come out with the original need – all he wanted was a toy aeroplane and once he said that, the need disappeared and so did the crying.
It was a conversation, where I put the focus back on him and all I did was listen with all my heart – and it was exhilarating for me.
I was able to put into practice the process of receiving empathically.
Today morning, there was another difficult conversation that I was part of and I was so glad to handle it the way I did.
NVC is described as a process of communication or a language of compassion, but it is more than a process or language. On a deeper level, it is an ongoing reminder to keep our attention focussed on a place where we are more likely to get what we are seeking.
The difficult part of any conversation, more so when emotions are running high, when things are at stake, when our ego is pricked and wants to get even, is to hold ourselves back and listen. As Marshall says to keep the attention focussed. Easier said than done and this is where I think that the years of Sadhana (Meditation, Sudarshan Kriya) has helped me. So, what does receiving empathically means? Marshall summarizes:
“Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing. We often have a strong urge to give advice or reassurance and to explain our own position or feeling. Empathy, however, calls upon us to empty our mind and listen to others with our whole being.
In NVC, no matter what words others may use to express themselves, we simply listen for their observations, feelings, needs and requests.
I wish I had learnt to communicate this way much earlier in my life. Why? Again to quote Marshall,
NVC helps us connect with each other and ourselves in a way that allows our natural compassion to flourish. It guides us to reframe the way we express ourselves and listen to others by focussing our consciousness on four areas: what we are observing, feeling, and needing, and what we are requesting to enrich our lives. NVC fosters deep listening, respect, and empathy and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. Some people use NVC to respond compassionately to themselves, some to create greater depth in their personal relationships, and still others to build effective relationships at work or in the political arena.
And I am seeing the results in action.
You can read more about NVC at their website.
If you have been practicing meditation, Sudarshan Kriya or any other allied techniques to still your mind, I think it becomes much easier to put NVC in practice. Go give it a spin.