While it would be impossible to really teach this method of communicating in a single blog entry, I would at least like to draw attention to a few major points of “mind-speak” at a time when it has become obvious that non-violent communication is really the only tool we have for resolving our differences in any manner that will be lasting, healing, and beneficial to all concerned.
Perhaps the first thing I notice in working with others to resolve conflicts is the method of speaking. If every sentence starts with “You…” chances are the speaker has already made up his/her mind, and the sentence will proceed to describe some action (real or imagined) in the mind of the speaker, which has in some manner wronged or inconvenienced him/her. Example: “You didn’t close the door this morning when you left for work.”
At that level of communication, a more level foundation is created – there is no automatic assumption of guilt (you left the door open), nor is there any need for the other person to defend their actions. Instead, a window of opportunity for more impeccable communication opens – and it is that window which is critical to consider in resolving conflicts at deeper levels.
It is also crucial in the art of nonviolent communication for someone who finds him/herself in a conflict to really stop and think before speaking. To speak from an assemblage point of anger is to automatically and unavoidably imbue one’s words with conflict – even if that may not be the intent. And if one cannot avoid speaking in anger (if one is angry and must confront some pre-existing conflict immediately), then it becomes even more imperative for the warrior to remember the first agreement: Always be impeccable with your word.
This is the point where a lot of people have the tendency to close off to the possibility of non-violent communication, because it is recognized that there may be what Orlando has come to call “negative pleasantries” associated with the state of being angry. Put another way – it is entirely possible (and we all know this) to actually enjoy being angry at someone because we feel our anger somehow validates us. It has become an icon of self-righteousness – a banner we may carry around like a soldier waving a flag. “Look at what you have done to me!” we proclaim. “You have made me angry!”
And yet… No one has the ability to make us one way or the other. Through our interactions with others, we may become angry or frustrated, or we may laugh and fall in love. This is not the other person’s doing, but a movement of our own assemblage point. Can someone else shift your assemblage point? Sure – but the secret is that you yourself have to allow it to be shifted. Seekers may choose to allow their AP to be shifted into all sorts of positions: anger, self-righteousness, love, hate, bliss, ecstasy, jealousy, hurt, fear – but a seeker does so with total awareness the resulting emotions which accompany such a shift are not particularly real. Like stepping into a play, the seeker with awareness realizes that his character may be passionately in love, but the actor himself may go home alone to an empty house.
The risk a seeker runs is when s/he forgets s/he is in a play. When the emotions become real as a result of something you may perceive someone did to you, it is time to go back to basics and remind oneself utterly and ruthlessly that what is real is the Self and not the attachments to which the self may adhere from time to time. In almost every case I have encountered, jealousy is a projection of fear. Anger is an expansion of self-importance. Hatred is a manifestation of greed at some level. And so on. It is human nature to attach to the emotion because it can be easily understood and experienced, whereas to really release that attachment usually requires understanding why one feels such a need to attach to the emotion in the first place. What is missing in one’s life, for example, that may cause one to feel “righteous anger” to such an extent that what would otherwise have been a minor infraction may be elevated into an outright war?
Nonviolent communication. How does it work? First and foremost, it requires at first a somewhat constant monitoring and observation of the manner in which one communicates naturally. We are all programmed to speak and to perceive in a certain manner. But when we can actually stop and hear ourselves – really listen to how our speech comes across – we begin to see ways in which we might improve our communication skills, and in doing so, actually improve the quality of our lives.
I am always suspicious, as mentioned above, of any sentence that begins with “You.” By the same token, it is important to be keenly aware of any sentence that begins with “Why?” To ask someone, “Why did you leave the door open when you left for work this morning?” automatically implies that 1) the other person intended to do it; and 2) at a subliminal level of communication, it is transmitted that this was wrong. Accusation and conflict are automatically created in the words themselves, when it would have been just as easy to stalk one’s method of speaking before speaking, and to simply reword it. “Were you aware the door was open when you left this morning?”
Nonviolent communication is a two-way street when it works best – and often that is going to require an impeccable warrior to make the first move in that direction, and to truly think about what is meant by projecting his/her words in a non-aggressive manner, and being open to really listening to the responses that are generated by the other party. Too often, until a warrior becomes a master of awareness, s/he may fall into the same old traps that any ordinary human being would: the trap of belief=projection=manifestation. Put another way: if I already believe you have stolen something from me, and I say to you, “Why did you steal that trinket?”, I am going to literally manifest a conflict, particularly if I am not able to listen/hear what the other person is going to say in response. If my mind is already made up, perception is reality, in other words. So no matter what the other person may say, it is entirely up to me to listen and to further the dialogue from there, rather than escalate the argument.
The finest warriors I have ever known are those who are the finest diplomats.
"The Front Porch Gatherings"