Practicing Non-Violent Communication

By Elrik Jundis

In October of 2014, the HCD team started to read the book “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux. I got excited as I read it like a novel; slowing down and putting it down only because it made me think deeply about the work we do with organizations and for what is possible for HCD.

One of the repeated themes in the book is that organizations that successfully move into self-organization, intrinsic motivation and self-directed action spend a good amount of time learning new ways to communicate. A common method mentioned is “Non Violent Communication,” or NVC, as developed by the late Marshall Rosenberg. As we shared NVC with clients, we found that it has already been a recommended tool with some of out multinational clients.

I was first introduced to NVC in October, via this 11-minute YouTube video Marshall Rosenberg demonstrates Nonviolent Communication 11:08. In the clip, a woman is engaged in a conversation with her “ex-husband”, role-played by founder Marshall Rosenberg. Using the key distinctions of NVC, she was able to be authentically communicated what she wanted and needed. The “ex-husband” also was able to communicate his concerns so he could really listen to her. For anyone who has ever had to have a difficult conversation, it’s really worth watching the whole clip.

I was impressed with how the distinctions of NVC create a space where authenticity, listening and moving forward naturally happen. I saw how it created a way to responsibly communicate upsets, assumptions and understanding, and explore common ground and respectfully communicate boundaries.

In November I facilitated internal team training for HCD. It was the first time we as a group engaged with NVC. Since then we’ve had a NVC co-teach gathering with some of our international colleagues, included NVC in a number of interventions with our clients and are currently finishing up a 14-week study group with associates in Canada, Taipei and Hong Kong.

In our work at HCD, there is often no road map, so what’s required is a higher level of listening and awareness. As facilitators and consultants, we are constantly on the lookout for ways to help teams move through sticking points. Team members like Louie Angsico, for example, specializes in Emotional Intelligence. We’ve found that NVC is a powerful tool for raising social and emotional EQ. It often frees people to be proactive and use their full capabilities.

Ultimately NVC uses communication to enhance and embrace those aspects of others and ourselves that bring vitality to life and what we are up to in the world. For me it’s one of the most accessible and heartfelt distinctions for communication that I have come across.

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