Communication from the Heart.
This book title is confusing. When talking about this book today, a savvy, soul-sister told me, she would name it Yoga for the Mind and I totally agree! So look past the name and explore these ideas with me.
This book changed my understanding of communication, not just the skill of what to say but more importantly how to live a kinder more human existence through authentic exchanges. Big stuff, am I right?
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, author of Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships is literally an international peace keeper. Growing up in an inner–city Detroit neighborhood Dr. Marshall Rosenberg was confronted daily with various forms of violence and dedicated his life and founded an institute for reducing violence thru clear and honest connected communications.
Think Nonviolent Communication = equals the talk between that negative uncle, cousin, neighbor, co-worker, kid (not in my case kid but in your case maybe) that you always ends in an argument – or even just sometimes ends in an argument.
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a simple idea: All humans have the capacity and desire for compassion and only resort to violence, negativity or behavior that harms others (like screaming, name calling, the silent treatment, or shouting ‘empty the damn dishwasher’ yes, I resemble some of these) when they don’t see more effective strategies for getting their own needs met.
On Audible, Dr. Rosenberg reads the book which is a real treat. Much of the book features his personal experiences, so it crafts the subject with an even more authentic voice, like he is sitting across from you. And it only takes 5 hours to listen to, so if like me you walk your dog each day, you can finish this puppy pretty quick.
The book description is
this renowned peacemaker presents his complete system for speaking our deepest truths, addressing our unrecognized needs and emotions, and honoring those same concerns in others.
Sounds pretty great huh?
It focuses on three aspects of communication:
- Self-empathy (compassionate and deep awareness of your own inner experience)
- Empathy (using your heart as the lens to see the beauty in the other person)
- Honest self-expression (an ability to express oneself (feelings specifically) authentically to inspire compassion in others).
There are models and steps – which are simple to implement once you understand his brilliant way of thinking. This is the premise – unending listening and speaking from the heart.
A few examples:
Emotions ignite much of our negative (violent) communication in everyday life.
The root of the book is that you are 100% accountable for your own emotions. Read that again with no buts. You are 100% accountable for your own emotions. Others can be catalysts for how you react they can be fuel yet it is up you alone to control and understand your own needs behind your emotions. Ideally before an explosion.
Your perspective, is YOUR perspective chocked full of judgement and predetermined beliefs. You always view yourself as “right”. You build up your own decision making as correct, creating your own version of every story – here is his example: “Thus if my partner wants more affection than I’m giving her, she is ‘needy and dependent.’ But if I want more affection than she is giving me, then she is ‘aloof and insensitive.’ If my colleague is more concerned about details than I am, he is ‘picky and compulsive.’ On the other hand, if I am more concerned about details than he is, he is ‘sloppy and disorganized.’” Hello this is me daily!
Marshall writes “The Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti once remarked that observing without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence.” He continues “For most of us, it is difficult to make observations, especially of people and their behavior, that are free of judgment, criticism, or other forms of analysis.”
And any statements that we are making judgements on are often about how we feel about ourselves, not what the other person feels at all.
Express feeling not thoughts so when trying to create action or non-action, choose words carefully to make sure your needs are fully understood. Ask for what you really want, which most likely has nothing to do with what a fight is about.
The book is filled with stories and specific take-aways that will help you immediately be a better communicator while understanding your own needs and creating more constructive relationships.
I was sad to learn Marshall passed away in 2015. He was an inspired teacher, dedicated peacekeeper and put himself in harms way in more than 60 countries to help inspire peace. Blessings to his family and rest in peace Dr. Rosenberg. Learn more at the non-profit he started: www.cnvc.org.
The Joy In the Book: Compassionate communication = more joyful life.