Nonviolent Communication Training Florissant MO
Saint Louis, MO
Saint Louis, MO
Mental Health Professional, Osteopath (DO)
Adults (18-64 yrs.)
Doctoral Program: University of Southern Mississippi
Credentialed Since: 1988-08-11
Saint Louis, MO
Mental Health Professional
St Louis, MO
By Katy Butler
At my Memorial Day barbecue one year, I watched in awe as my friend Kathryn fielded baiting questions from a handsome, slightly drunk guest. I can’t remember the words she used, but instead of taking offense, Kathryn responded respectfully, without sacrificing her truth or compromising her dignity. She reminded me of an aikido master—in motion yet centered, calmly melding with her attacker and deflecting his thrusts without harming him.
When I later remarked on how skillfully she had handled him, Kathryn credited something called “nonviolent communication” and lent me a book by its creator, psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. She invited me to join a small group—part of a worldwide network accessible through the Center for Nonviolent Communication website ( www.cnvc.org )—that practices this approach by role-playing situations from life.
Once a month, we sat in a circle of chairs in someone’s living room, participating in role plays: a boundary dispute with a neighbor, a conflict between two singers in an interracial church choir, my tension-charged interactions with my two new teenaged stepsons. Slowly I learned to weather my intense emotions and translate my first, fear-driven thoughts into honest but nonconfrontational language, devoid of blame. Instead of a tape of You always ignore me, (which is a judgment) looping in my brain, I got at why I felt triggered—I feel lonely.
Nonviolent communication (NVC) is also called compassionate communication because the method focuses on getting needs met using compassion as a motivation rather than fear, guilt, shame, or coercion. The techniques teach you to express yourself without attacking others, and to receive critical messages without taking them personally. To do this, NVC follows a four-step protocol: observing and describing an external situation without judgment, articulating the feelings the situation triggers, connecting those feelings to an unmet need, and then making a “specific, doable request” of the other party. The most crucial points in this approach? Listening empathically and strategizing ways to meet others’ needs as well as our own.
A Gentle Giant
Marshall Rosenberg was a clinical psychologist in St. Louis who abandoned his practice in the late 1970s to, as he puts it, “give psychology away” by teaching communication skills on a wider scale. Like his mentor, the humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers, Rosenberg maintains that one of our deepest human needs is to contribute to others’ well-being, so long as our own needs aren’t unfairly compromised in the process.
Rosenberg’s childhood was full of miscommunication and pain. His parents’ marriage was unhappy, and their neighborhood in Detroit was the center of violent race riots in the 1940s. At school, Rosenberg was beaten for being a Jew. These experiences, he recalls, inspired him to explore “what happens to disconnect people from their inherently compassionate nature and what allows some people to stay c...
Author: Katy Butler
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