For us, NVC is a unique frame to view the world through.
NVC allows us to relate in a way that engenders respect while maximizing understanding. It let's us get beneath the bullcrap and to the heart of what matters between any two human beings, which we believe is a quality of connection that honors all feelings and embodies mutual safety. From here, we can pierce through the veil of superficiality to get to the heart of our humanity.
We believe that inside every human is a longing to connect with oneself and with others in a way that is meaningful. Fortunately the classifying and judging people which promotes violence can be unlearned.
NVC does not reduce us to quiet voices or to set aside our anger for social inequity. We remain passionate and in touch with our fury and other emotions. NVC invites us to experience and express ourselves fully - while doing so consciously, skillfully, and nonviolently.
NVC's most important use may be in developing self-compassion, as we use these tools in ways that engender softness rather than self-hatred. These tools help us honor our self, to disassemble self-judgment and self-blame, and rebuild a compassionate view of ourselves. When we are internally violent toward ourselves, it is difficult to be genuinely compassionate toward others. As playwright Herb Gardner says in the play A Thousand Clowns, "I want you to know the subtle, sneaky, important reason you were born a human being and not a chair." When we remember the specialness of who we are, we stay awake to all the wild possibilities around us.
If we're conditioned to view ourselves as objects full of short-comings, is it any wonder that many of us end up relating violently to ourselves? In our moment-to-moment evaluations of ourselves, it is critical to know how to evaluate in ways that help us learn and make ongoing choices that serve us rather than promote more self-hatred. Are you ready to learn specific skills that give you more choice in how you respond rather than dangerously doing things "because we're supposed to?" Want a realistic practice that engenders self-compassion and forgiveness? Come play with us! Or utilize our resources.
Transforming relationships of any kind using Nonviolent Communication has infinite potential. We can build a vocabulary of feelings and take responsibility for them, as well as notice the heavy cost of unexpressed feelings. We can discover and begin to celebrate our needs, and see the gift of expressing our needs honestly to others. We can learn to make life-serving requests, increase our ability to hear a "no", and create dialogue where both parties receive a meaningful quality of responsiveness to each other.
Ultimately, if we can attune to the essence of what matters to people, rather than what they are thinking, we are more likely to have fulfilling bonds. Behind harsh or intimidating messages are merely people appealing to us to meet their needs. When we know how to decode harsh messages from others, criticisms, attacks, and judgments vanish.
“If I use Nonviolent Communication to liberate people to be less depressed, to get along better with their family, but not teach them, at the same time, to use their energy to rapidly transform systems in the world, then I am part of the problem. I am essentially calming people down, making them happier to live in the systems as they are, so I am using NVC as a narcotic.” -- Marshall Rosenberg, PhD Social Justice Retreat in Switzerland, June 2005
Structural differences in social rank, economic or political power, cultural norms, or other factors, can lead people to feel less empowered or able to speak with full honesty. This can consciously or unconsciously inhibit authentic expression and connection, therefore it is necessary to learn about and acknowledge these differences, and to find ways to cross the gap they produce. We aim to increase awareness of how power and privilege affect our ability to fully connect with one another, and how inequity affects us all.
Globally, there are potential obstacles to achieving nonviolence in the way that domination systems operate within ourselves, within organizations and societies. NVC gives us tools to help shift from power-over to power with, from domination systems to partnership systems. In addition to learning and sharing key concepts about power and privilege, we can eliminate discounting - that is denying individual experiences of oppression, or seeing a person only as a representative of a category of people, or lastly, framing reality only at the individual level without acknowledging a systemic dimension.
Once upon a time ...
After performing a one-person act for years, Leif wanted compassionate comrades. First came the-one-and-only Marina, and then in the fall of 2017 these two wanted even more fellow lovers of open-hearted and self-responsible communication to play with in the Gainesville area.
The Center for Nonviolent Communication was in the process of changing its worldwide organizing model from one that was top-down and universally-based, to one that was locally-based and founded upon the notion of a weave, a collective of practitioners committed to living, studying, and sharing NVC that in turn folds into a worldwide tapestry of practitioners.
Deeply inspired by this model, Leif and Marina reached out to Eze and Noor to ask them to join Gainesville NVC, and they enthusiastically jumped aboard! A successful 2018 eventually turned into 2019 where Noor moved to a different part of Florida, and this is where the lovely Kathleen comes into the story. Joining us with a background of conscious communication practices, we are thrilled about what contributions we’ll bring to our beloved community.
GNVC continues to grow into a vibrantly flowing river spawned by unique but similarly committed practitioners of nonviolence amidst the swampy wetlands of North Central Florida.