Well, yesterday I watched a masterful job of presenting Non-Violent Communcation skills to an audience of almost 100 registrants. Holly Eckert has got to be THE epitome of successful saleswomanship; it wasn't that it was a hostile crowd---far from it---but every questioning or dubious commenter was answered respectfully, positively, and non-defensively.
The hesitant, nervous participants were encouraged, supported, and praised for their courage in getting up in front of the group, baring their lives in an effort to find a way to communicate effectively with family members or friends when problems arise.
Some problems were real, others were made-up on the spot, but every response, correct or not-so-correct, was treated respectfully and with good humor. There was a lot of laughter, a few tears, a great deal of enthusiasm.
Having been through years and years of counseling training and because I was responsible for quite a few of the logistics for the workshop, I didn't participate fully in the workshop, just caught it on the fly between errands, food prep, and solving problems. I was pleased to note that many of my longtime listening and responding skills fall into the NVC pantheon of communication skills.
But I was reminded of something I've always believed: human actions all emerge from a need, whether perceived or unconscious.
When I get defensive, it's because I'm scared and need to feel safe. When my feelings are hurt, it's because I'm insecure and need to feel accepted. When I'm angry, it's because I'm hurt and need to feel comforted (or reassured, or some such).
When others are crabby, it might be because they are in physical pain and need comfort, or exhausted and need rest, or frustrated and needing appreciation and/or help.
One of the most helpful thoughts that I use to deal with those who frustrate or annoy me is to ask myself "under what circumstances might I behave the same way?" I don't know why, always, the person is so annoying, but if I can frame it in a personal way, it helps me get to a place of understanding and, hopefully, compassion. And that's the point of NVC---getting to compassion.