Nonviolent Communication as a doorway to Focusing

I find it useful to use NonvioLogo_Focusing_ES_croplent Communication as a doorway to Focusing, especially in El Salvador, where people are not used to the idea of self empathy.

NVC defines Jackal Language (naming, blaming, diagnosing, proving who is right and wrong, etc) as separate from Giraffe Language (describing an interaction without evaluating it, turning inward to notice ones own feelings and needs, listening empathically to the needs of others, making requests to meet needs, etc). People can identify easily with the big difference in the two languages. I don’t usually go into the request step until later, because my goal is to teach felt sensing.

Next the Revolutionary Pause is introduced. The pause is the moment when one decides which language he or she wants to speak. People start with noticing the difficulty of pausing in daily life, and then start to get a sense of what a difference it can make. They start noticing when they are making statements that imply judgements and blame. From there they can also notice the way they are judging themselves, thus opening to the notion of empathy toward their own inner world. As people start noticing their own feelings and needs, they are already in level 5 of the Experiencing scale:

The NVC concept that Beautiful Human Needs are what unite us as human beings is new for most people, experienced Focusers as well as non-Focusers. Noticing ones beautiful human needs and how they feel inside can lay the groundwork for noticing naturally-arising felt senses. I love the NVC concept that other people are not responsible for how we feel. Our needs, met and unmet, give rise to how we feel. Everyone is trying to meet his or her needs, but without communicating about this, we often don’t understand each others needs.

From there, through sensitive, spacious listening, one can make space around that which can’t yet be put into words. With practice and good listening, people are on their way to learning to pause and pay attention to the felt sense of the whole. This can often extend far beyond what could be defined as values and needs. That is where the whole basis of what was a conflict can transform into forward movement.

NVC is a theory, the practice of which, can lead to felt sensing. Felt sensing is pre-conceptual— fresh, intricate and unpredictable in every moment. A lot of practice and careful listening is necessary before people can learn to trust the felt sense in all its transformative potential.

I find that the seamless combination of NVC and Focusing lays a good groundwork for learning both. I am really enjoying teaching this combination online to two wonderful groups of young people who work with at-risk youth in El Salvador. They are beautiful, bright, dedicated, courageous and eager to learn. I will be launching another online class for Spanish speakers at the end of March. Three of my Salvadoran students have started an online Changes group that nourishes their souls. Hopefully, once they get a good, consistent rhythm established, they will open it to other Spanish speakers.