Non-Violent Communication

From Non-violent Communication

by Marshall Rosenberg

Honestly expressing:

  • How I am without blaming or criticizing. Separate observation from evaluation. The concrete actions I am observing (seeing, hearing, remembering, imagining) that are contributing (or not contributing) to my well-being: “When I (see, hear)…”
  • How I am feeling in relation to these actions : “I feel…”
  • The life energy in the form of needs, values, desires, expectations or thoughts that are creating my feelings: “because I am (needing)…
  • Clearly requesting that which would enrich my life without demanding . The concrete actions I would like taken: “and I would like you to….”

Resources from The Center of Non-violent Communication:

How to avoid gossip, talking in the bushes, hearsay, rumor mongering and other misdemeanors.

by Seisen Roshi

One of the most important guidelines for harmony in a community is the practice of direct communication. When we are triggered by someone or something it is very tempting to talk about it among our friends. At SWZC we practice taking our upset to the person who triggered it or to the person or group most able to do something about the situation that triggered the upset.

If you find yourself upset with someone, here are some steps to resolution:

Cultivate emotional intelligence. This means be aware of what the emotion is (anger, fear, hurt etc.). Then take responsibility for the emotion. This means acknowledging that the action of another triggered this emotion but the emotion is mine. Then decide: what is the action that I want to take around this feeling:

  • Realizing that this feeling is almost completely repressed emotions from the past, I decide to meditate with the feeling, letting go of the trigger. For example: When the person next to me clears their throat in an irritating way, I realize that the burning anger that takes over my body is all about me. The trigger (throat clearing) is not the problem, it just triggered repressed anger. I can be happy that I am aware of the emotion and decide to just let it go or I can work on it in meditation in terms of transforming anger into wisdom.
  • Realizing that this feeling has to do with someone treating me inappropriately, I also realize that there is nothing I can do about it. For example: When my boss tells me I have to stay late and I cannot financially afford to offend my boss right now. Something real triggered my feelings, but I make the decision not to confront my boss about it because of circumstances. So just like in the first example, I work with these emotions in meditation. Let go of the story about the boss and be one with the anger and it will transform into wisdom.
  • When I’m not sure if this feeling is all my stuff or if I have a legitimate gripe with you. Or, if I’m pretty sure, your behavior is inappropriate. This is the time to use direct communication.
  • When the event that triggered my feelings is such that I need to take an action. For example: I hear the neighbors beating their children. This is the time to immediately call the police. My emotions may be giving me the information that I need to leave, to notify the police, to sign a petition, to quit my job, to march on Washington etc.

If you find yourself being drawn into indirect communication. 

by Seisen Roshi

There are many different scenarios involving working with someone who we perceive to be out of integrity with the grievance procedure. The most common is probably that a friend in the community wants to talk to you about their grievance with another person. It is often times very difficult to do direct communication and it is also easy to fall into listening to indirect communication. The best way to deal with this situation is to keep in mind, if you are the third party, that your main job is to get the two people to talk to each other. This could involve:

  • Acknowledge that you are engaging in indirect communication. Let the person know that you feel uncomfortable talking about someone who is not present and that you encourage them to work on their grievance directly. Let them know that you will not keep a confidence that involves someone who is not there.
  • Role playing (pretend like I’m the one you are upset with–how would you tell me about it). The point of role playing would be helping the person with a grievance develop how they can talk about it directly.
  • Offer to act as a mediator when they talk to the person they are upset about. Or offer to work with the Abbot or the Guardian Council to form a group to facilitate the conversation.
  • In some cases you will be told about a violation such as abuse, sexual misconduct etc. I think that that kind of confidence cannot be kept. We need to stop any of this kind of activity immediately.
  • Seek advice from me, your sponsor, your therapist or another spiritual teacher.
  • Tell the person who is being talked about that it is happening. It is not fair to allow someone in the community to talk about someone behind their back and not let that person know what is going on.