NonViolent Communication (NVC): A Brief Recap

I grew up believing that it was important to be good, and being good usually meant being agreeable. I mastered the art of agreeableness (“Sarah always has such a positive attitude!”), even when it meant expressing something outward that was incongruent with what was going on internally. While this may have circumvented some external conflict, it facilitated a sort of silent distancing. Being a part of the church, as well as participating in my own therapy, has helped me to (slowly!) grow in my capacity to own my contribution to the conversation, while remaining connected even when I do not “agree.”

Circle of Peacemakers hosted an Introduction to NonViolent Communiction (NVC) with Terrie Lewine on Saturday, June 11th. One of the core beliefs we hold is that Jesus invites us towards reconciliation and peace, which involves healthy (and often difficult) dialogue. At Circle of Hope, we see conflict as not only inevitable, but as an opportunity. We try to practice the motto: Truth without loves kills, while love without truth lies. While NVC is not rooted in a religious frame, many of the ideas are congruent with what I believe it means to be a peacemaker as a follower of Jesus.

One of the purposes of NonViolent Communication is to move towards, rather than away, from the person with whom you are communicating. NVC encourages the use of language that is fluid rather than static, the pursuit of justice that is restorative rather than retributive, and the building of a partnership culture rather than a dominator culture. NVC aims to create connection and compassion, rather than division, blaming, and scapegoating.

Following the training, I invited everyone in attendance over to my house for a potluck meal of shared food and continued conversation. We began to ask the hard questions about how to engage in meaningful, constructive dialogue without falling into the traps of unspoken needs, unhelpful censoring, stone-walling, and the like. Terrie’s training seemed to prime the pump, and the conversation in my backyard was rich with ideas, considerations, and questions.

-Sara W., reporting

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