Update from Shenzhen; By Jim Manske

Greetings from one of the newest cities in China, Shenzen.

About 30 years ago, this sleepy little fishing village across the bay from vibrant, colonial Hong Kong became the first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in China.  Like Yantai where we were a couple of weeks ago, China began reaching out to the world here.

Now, almost 12 million people, with an average age of less than 30(!) live, work and play here.

The city vibrates with an effervescent intensity an octave above Yantai.  For me, it seems the height of consumptive society, yet with a quality of care for the future inching toward sustainability.  Because it is an SEZ, Shenzhen attracts lots of ex-pats and business folks from all around the world.  It has an international and cosmopolitan flavor like Shanghai.

The economic output of this single city is about the same as all of Portugal!  It’s a place where lots of new businesses spring up, and perhaps that “fertility” will support the growth of NVC here.  In my dream of the world, someday there will be at least one trainer per million folks, so this single city may have 12 trainers in the not to distant future.  As my mentor Christa Morf says, “We’ll see what happens!”

We’ve just completed a two day workshop with about 35 folks, the first NVC workshop by certified trainers here, as far as I know.  When we did a process early on the first day to understand how much previous NVC experience folks had, we discovered that about 70% of the folks had less than a year and some had just learned about NVC days ago.  How inspiring to be present for the first baby steps of helping to support an emerging NVC community here!

We offered our 9 skills training coupled with some introductory processes exploring universal Needs and the connection between feelings and needs.  The participants eagerly assimilated our offering as fast as we could give it.  They seemed content with brief breaks and a leisurely lunch, allowing us lots of time for practice.

Hearing the checkout round this afternoon touched me deeply.  It seemed they were taking away deep learning and inspiration to continue their practice.  If you are still doing the gratitude practice we encouraged before you left, more than a 100 Chinese folks are now joining us from all of the cities we have visited.

One of the highlights of the training was showing a brief video Jori and I had seen this morning of the leaders of North and South Korea connecting and shaking hands.  There is a precious moment in the video that demonstrated the power of an invitation as Kim Jong Un gently encouraged his South Korean counterpart to step over the line into North Korea.  Many of the participants seemed to be as touched as we were.  I could barely control my emotions as I shared how impactful this moment is for me, how much hope I have in the possibility of peace and denuclearization.  What a long distance we seemed to have come since that wild morning in January when we all freaked out about the incoming missile that turned out to be a false alarm!

Tomorrow we facilitate a meeting of volunteers who visit schools in southern China hoping to inspire kids there to dream big, even in the face of a traditional rote-learning strategy still common in many Chinese schools.  I wonder what will happen.

We hope all is well with you!  We have one more weekend workshop in a few days before heading home for Maui.  Until we see you in mid-May, please keep going to Zero, keep refining your intention to connect and enjoy this precious moment.

Warm aloha!

Jim

Link to video:  https://youtu.be/i7LXeCTOEuU

“The Zero Step:  What we do before we open our mouths influences what happens next!  Jim Manske Certified Trainer for The Center for Nonviolent Communication

“The Zero Step:  What we do before we open our mouths influences what happens next!  

“Know what you want before you open your mouth.”  -Marshall Rosenberg, developer of Nonviolent Communication

The Story of the Zero Step 

Shortly after meeting Marshall Rosenberg in November of 2000, Jori and I started attending the Community NVC Practice Group in Albuquerque. One member of the group, Mel Schneider, offered the group a lesson he called “The Zero Step”.  Mel started the presentation by writing the numbers 1 through 4 on the whiteboard:

 

1.

2.

 

3.

4.

He then filled in the blank next to each number, enumerating the four components of NVC.

  1. Observation
  2. Feeling
  3. Need
  4. Request

He briefly reviewed what each component meant.  He said something like, “Observation refers to what we see and hear.  Feeling means the physical sensations and emotions we notice in our body.  Needs are the universal values that cause our feelings.  Requests are the action step that moves us forward into making life more wonderful.”

This was already familiar.  As I once heard Marshall say, “you can learn the basic components of NVC in 5 minutes or less.”

Then he went back to the board and wrote a 0 at the top o

 

0.

  1. Observation
  2. Feeling
  3. Need
  4. Request

And after the 0 he wrote two words

0.   ZERO STEP

  1. Observation
  2. Feeling
  3. Need
  4. Request

Intrigued, we all leaned forward.  I thought, “What is this?  I don’t remember seeing this in Marshall’s book!  He didn’t mention this at the workshop we just went to. I wonder what this is about.”

Mel explained that his understanding and practice of NVC centered around the idea that “all the rest” of NVC follows from one underlying premise: the intention that we each bring to every communication matters to the outcome!  He also reminded us of the ever-present environment in which we practice NVC: the present moment.

In other words, when we take the time and energy to get clear about our intention, before communicating with one another, we increase the likelihood of living compassionately.  In the moments before we engage in a conversation, the choices we make profoundly influence everyone involved.  When we begin with an intention to connect, we naturally enter into the present moment, the only “time and place” that the connection we so fervently want actually exists.

The “Rest of NVC”

I have come to understand that “all the rest” of NVC also supports our clarity of intention because each component of NVC awakens us to another important quality of consciousness- Openness to Outcome.  Rather than pre-judging the moment based on beliefs and images rooted in the dead past or the imagined future, we open to the possibility of something new arising that can make life more wonderful from now on.

In each moment, our consciousness focuses on what is arising with four lenses:

1.What’s actually happening, right now?;

2.What feelings are arising, right now?

3.Who needs what right now?

4.What might contribute to those Needs, right now?

So the intention of NVC, in a dynamic feedback loop with NVC’s components, creates and sustains a natural quality of connection, a quality that makes compassionate giving and receiving both possible and inevitable.  We creatively move through each moment of presence, awake and open to the almost infinite potential of what could be.

What happens if we forget the Zero Step?

With another intention, the same four components can be used at a great cost, one that adversely affects one’s own well-being and integrity, and likely leads to something other than compassionate giving and receiving, a world based on who deserves what punishment or reward.  In other words, violence rooted in separateness.

When we view the world through a screen of life-alienated “jackal”* consciousness, we live our lives alternating between the dead past and the imaginary future.  We fall into habits of:

1.Evaluation and analysis

2.Separative thinking and moral judgment

3.Resistance and addictive attachment

4.Demands and expectations

Even after we learn the basics of NVC, we may fall into these mostly unconscious habits.  We may begin to use NVC as a mechanical process devoid of warmth and care.  We can use the lens of NVC to become analytical and diagnostic.  We can try to use NVC to manipulate others to get what we want without regard to our interdependence.  We might start judging others for not using NVC “the right way”, or correcting others for not being vulnerable enough, honest enough, empathic enough.  We might become the “NVC Police” correcting others for using words that are faux feelings or when they seem to mix up needs and strategies.

“”We might ask ourselves whether we are more intent on applying the process “correctly” than on connecting with the human being in front of us. Or perhaps, even though we are using the form of NVC, our only interest is in changing the other person’s behavior.” -Marshall Rosenberg

Becoming aware of any of these deeply embedded habits awakens us to the possibility of shifting our intention.  Instead of an intention to correct, we can shift, right now, to an intention to connect!

What does living this intention look like?

When we shift our orientation to connection in the present, it affects our body, mind and world.

For the body, the intention to connect results in heightened awareness of sensations and emotions which can be read to support us in cultivating our own vitality, ensuring that our body’s needs are met with ever-increasing reliability.  We learn to listen to the body and respond compassionately to its requests.

For the mind, we experience clarity, insight and openness to outcome.  The safety and security we experience in our body influences our minds to become both vulnerable and empathic.  We enjoy each moment as an opportunity to sense fully the whole range of human experience with a respectful quality of allowance.  The luminosity of our awareness invites self-connection in the service of life.

With body and mind in resonance, our interactions with the world shift.  The separateness we have habitually felt dissolves into connection and compassion.  Our willingness to both give and receive blossoms.

Now, we can connect!  More and more often we can catch ourselves connecting naturally.  Every time we notice a pleasant sensation in the body becomes an opportunity to taste and express gratitude.  Each moment of sadness or despair invites us to inquire into the source of our pain:  what need is crying, “please!” right now?  Each connection to a need invites us to open to the possibility that there exists a strategy (or a myriad of strategies) to fulfill the needs arising.

Here are some practices to experiment with to connect with The Zero Step:

•Acknowledge, “I am Giraffe*”, or “I’m putting on my giraffe ears.”

•Cultivate Warmth toward self and other

•Care for your vitality as well as the vitality of other(s)

•Cultivate Gratitude

•Cultivate interest in what is alive: What’s actually happening? What feelings are arising? Who  needs what right now? What might help?

•Mental practice:  This refers to a strategy of using the brains power of simulation to practice the Zero Step in challenging situations before they happen.  I sometimes do this kind of practice just before going to sleep and/or just upon awakening.  If I end up in a sleepless period in the middle of the night, one can also utilize the time for this kind of practice.

Write down one new thing that you will do to cultivate your zero step.

(*Giraffe is the symbol of Nonviolent Communication, chosen by Marshall Rosenberg because giraffes have the strongest heart of any land mammal.

C) 2017 Jim Manske peaceworks radicalcompassion.com

Jim Manske
Certified Trainer for The Center for Nonviolent Communication, cnvc.org
President, Network for NVC
 
Please join me in a commitment to live from the consciousness that we are
one.
Please, let every word that you speak or type be empathically cleansed of
any thought or feeling of separateness before you open your mouth or press “send”. (This in no way implies there is a correct form!)

Please, let every word you hear be filtered by empathy so all you hear is “Please” and “Thank you”.

Please, let every communication express our common aim of living nonviolence and compassion.

May we remember our vision and mission each and every moment, and measure our own actions (and inactions) in relation to those commitments.

—-

The Potential of Mourning Integrity by Aubree Moon

Week four of my internship with NVC NextGen is coming to a close, and there are many wonderful moments of learning to reflect on. After attending the last two NVC practice groups, I had experiences of the lessons integrating into my daily life. Last week, Jim and Jori taught about ‘have to’, as in things you feel like you have to do. They guided the group through finding to activities that we feel like we have to do, and then explained how to connect to the need that we are trying to meet through doing that activity. For example, I feel like I have to read my texts for school, but by reading the texts, I am trying get my needs for security and integrity met. We also looked at the needs that aren’t met by these activities and held space both to mourn the unmet needs and celebrate our attempts to meet some of our needs. This process of mourning and celebrating has really affected my thinking; I’ve noticed most of my experiences boil down to either mourning or celebrating something. To allow the space for both to come up naturally has really given me a more balanced view of my life.

Just the other day this lesson became very apparent as I was driving to the store. On the way, there’s a turn that is pretty sharp without much visibility. I can’t remember what I was doing while I was driving, but this particular time there was something taking up some amount of my attention, like drinking from my water bottle or opening Spotify on my phone. I turned the corner without anticipating how sharp it would be, and regrettably I didn’t navigate it with as much precision and attention as I would have liked. Luckily, I was taking it slow, but the woman in the car coming towards me didn’t seem pleased with my driving. I got to the store and parked, and I felt some shame. As I gave more attention to the feeling, I could tell there was a part of me that wanted to ignore and suppress it. Instead, I invoked the quality of mourning, and connected to the needs that weren’t met by my behavior: integrity and safety. When I allowed the mourning to occur, there was much more space for the feeling of shame. I also connected to the needs that I had been trying to meet during my inattentive moment of driving, probably ease and fun. I celebrated my attempt of trying to meet those needs.

A few days later, I was driving another windy jungle road, and I was trying to open a podcast on my phone. I instantly felt a flash of recognition *this behavior has led to mourning my integrity in the past*. It spontaneously arose as a reminder stemming from previously taking the time to mourn my action of distracted driving. As soon as this thought came up, I dropped my phone on the passenger seat. I focused on the road and experienced a surge of joy and celebration for seeing the potential to be out of alignment with my integrity and choosing not to. I didn’t drop the phone out of shame, but for the joy of being connected to my integrity. This experience showed me that mourning unmet needs is incredibly powerful and transformative. We react to unmet needs in so many ways: anger, depression, apathy- but to consciously mourn, to touch your tender heart with empathy and compassion, provides a quality of healing. Mourning unmet needs contributes to self-awareness and consequently self-empowerment. It creates more understanding and consciousness around how to get your needs met and illuminates the pathway to a more wonderful life.

Another experience I had that came to life through NVC teachings was around inviting a conversation. This past Monday, Jim and Jori taught on this subject and we were able to practice our conversation invitations. It seemed simple enough, I thought about it briefly and then said to my practice partner: “Hey, I was wondering if you have some time to sit and chat with me. I have something on my mind and I’d really love to share and hear your thoughts.” I spoke those words once, and then we moved on to something else. A couple days later, this practice re-entered my consciousness. I was in the middle of doing yoga when my partner got home and came into our bedroom. I stopped my practice and said “hi”. That morning, I had had a realization about how my life could be more wonderful, and there was a request I wanted to make of my partner. It wasn’t a “big deal”, but it was more important that just our everyday dialogue.

As I was figuring out how to say it, he kissed me on the head and walked out of the room. As I stood there on my yoga mat and had been about to launch into my spiel, I noticed that when I have something to say that feels important, I usually just dive right in. Because my partner walked out before I could say anything, I realized: I had been about to invite a conversation. Unconsciously. This was a wonderful realization because it provided more space in my consciousness and allowed me to really think about how I wanted to approach inviting a conversation. What did I really want to say and how did I want to set the tone? And even more importantly, it gave me the space to remember the zero step, or the intention for connection. Jim and Jori coined this term for a precursory step to the nonviolent communication dialogue.

To go into a conversation with an intention to stay connected to the other person is a profound idea. In the situation with my partner, the energy I had been about to come from was very self-centered and independent, thinking only of my needs and requests. When he left the room and I realized I had been about to invite a conversation, I remembered the zero step and it shifted the energy that I would have had the conversation from. Instead of “I realized this, I need this, wow, I’m so excited about this–” I instead would have approached it instead like “I realized this would make my life more wonderful, how does that impact you?”  It’s been amazing to have these learning experiences come to life. It is so inspiring that just attending a short weekly practice group can have so much impact in my thinking and behavior. There’s nothing better than the experience of expanding consciousness contributing to more fulfilling relationships!

Conscious Leadership and Nonviolent Communication by Aubree Moon

*Note:  Aubree Henke, a senior at Evergreen State University has recently begun at internship at NVC for the Next Generation.  Part of her studies includes periodic reflections on her learning goals and processes.  As “field supervisor”, Jim Manske has the opportunity to work closely with Aubree.  When he received this first reflection paper, he asked for and obtained Aubree‘s permission to publish it here.*

Where to start! There has been so much opportunity for learning and growth in the first two weeks that I am still playing catchup to assimilate and digest it all. When I’m immersed in a quarter that is chock-full of wisdom, these papers really help me concretize the gems of what I’m learning and provide for good reflection months after I’ve completed the “learning session”. Being a part of an NVC practice group is priceless for my learning and development. To witness others going through the same communication struggles and to see their conflicts broken down with consciousness and empathy is incredibly awakening; it feels as if I am learning kinesthetically. The quality of space that is held for both the celebration and mourning of needs is incredibly impactful. It offers a learning opportunity that isn’t found in studying NVC books. As conflicts are worked out in the practice group and the underlying emotions and needs begin to be named, Jim and Jori both exhibit profound empathy by acknowledging and giving space to the met or unmet quality of the needs. Through observing these experiences, I have begun to cultivate that deepening of presence and empathy within myself. I am so grateful to be a part of this practice group so that I can witness and grow in these subtle qualities of awareness and empathy.

A huge development in my consciousness these past weeks has to do with “dissolving enemy images”. Before being aware of a new language of life, I didn’t realize that casting blame was a choice. It was the way I was taught to relate, it was how I believed the world worked. To acknowledge that everyone is acting out of their own needs, and then have the desire to connect with empathy to see what those needs might be, is still a teaching that is creating roots inside my thinking. There are many tools that I am beginning to utilize to take responsibility for my emotions when I am triggered and casting blame and shame on myself others. It still can be quite a challenge to catch me in this act and change the trajectory of my thoughts. The strategy that is the most helpful right now is to practice radical self-connection and self-compassion. In the past, my thinking framework of blame created a polarity where one person could be right, and the other had to be wrong. Because this belief still lingers in my subconscious, it can be hard for me to create the space and empathy to listen to the other person when I feel triggered. To navigate this roadblock, I internally give myself as much validation and compassion as I can, so that when I begin to listen to the other person I can remember that my viewpoint is also true. NVC is helping me see that each person has a story, and each story is completely valid. I don’t have to decide who is right or who should apologize, instead, I’m learning to acknowledge my emotions, connect with my needs and give myself compassion and time to mourn. When I’m doing this process, I can listen much better and extend empathy for the other person’s unmet needs. Quicker and quicker, I am able to see when I am creating the story of “bad other” and remember to my intention to take responsibility for my emotions and understand the other person’s reality with empathy.

Another thing that I want to celebrate my learning is how my self-talk has changed, specifically around regrettable or unconscious behavior. I have spent much of my life putting others’ feelings before my own, and when I would act in a way that hurt others, the shame spiral would be devastating to my relationship with myself. In the past couple weeks, there have been many times that I have had a very exciting practice of bringing this predicament into my conscious mind. For example, one day I went to my partner while he was working on his computer and began tickling him and talking to him in a silly way. He became agitated and angry. It caused a conflict between us. I retreated into my bedroom, alone.

While I sat on my bed, I could feel my face hot with shame. I realized the shame was coming from my unmet need for conscious behavior and integrity. I hadn’t approached him with clarity about my actions, only a subconscious desire to connect in a playful way. After taking the time to connect to mourning my integrity as well as celebrating my attempt to meet my need for connection and play, I was able to brainstorm ways that I could initiate connection without losing connection to my integrity. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I also feel mourning for the innocence and ease of relating in less-conscious ways, a sense of mourning the passing of childhood. This situation is one that comes up for me often, and I’m learning to sense the desire for connection and sit with it before acting in unconscious ways. Although this new process may not have the quality of ease that it might have in childhood, it does bring a sense of excitement that I am seeing deeper into my behaviors and decreasing my reactivity to my unconscious mind.

I am feeling very excited about this learning opportunity because it connects to so many of my passions and needs. I have a deep commitment to love and compassion, and nonviolent communication is a beautiful way to embody that pledge and create positive change in the world. I also have strong needs for growth and presence, and NVC provides an unfathomable opportunity for those qualities to be employed. Changing the structure of the only language you have ever known is no small task, and there are many lessons that leave me speechless at their subtle profundity. To be able to reshape your language structure takes a great amount of consciousness and it’s those moments where I find myself so present in my experience. NVC is a tool for communication that only benefits; to structure your life with NVC sets up opportunity after opportunity to have a more wonderful life– and that meets my need for hope.

How Do You Teach Empathy?

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JULY 30, 2005

I like Marshall Rosenberg’s definition of empathy for its simplicity and clarity.  He says, “Empathy is the respectful understanding of another person’s experience.”

We also distinguish between “empathy”, which focuses our attention and presence on what is alive in another person, and “sympathy”, which shifts the focus to our own experience in a self-reflective way.  Sympathy can actually block an experience of empathy.

One other related distinction concerns what is actually happening in our own experience when we are in empathic connection.  We are as present as possible to the experience of another person without feeling what they are feeling.  Again, feeling what another person is feeling can prevent us from experiencing the depth of empathic connection made possible by utilizing the tools and consciousness of Nonviolent Communication (NVC).  We can connect with another person’s experience without having the same experience.  For me, the experience of empathy is like “meditation off the cushion”.

This distinction may become clearer if you consider how we are defining feelings, especially about what feelings “mean” in NVC.  We define feelings as physical sensations and emotions, “guttural” feelings.  We distinguish feelings from “thoughts” or “evaluations”, which can actually block presence to our own feelings or connecting with the feelings of others.

In NVC, we see feelings as signals that give us information about the state of our needs.  To oversimplify, when our need is met, we feel a certain range of feelings (often called “positive” or “good” feelings) and when our need is not met, we feel a different range of feelings (“negative” or “bad”).  Thus, the cause of our feelings is the state of our needs, not what happens in the outside world, what we call the stimulus or observation.

We define needs in a specific way as well, as “that which is required universally to sustain or enhance life.”  We all have the same needs.  Words that point to needs tend to be vague or hazy, like “connection”, “contribution”, “learning”, or “sustenance”.  We distinguish needs from “strategies” or “satisfiers” which are concrete and specific ways of meeting a need.

One example is the need for sustenance.  Humans have invented or discovered about a million ways to meet this most basic of human needs; three strategies are a vegetarian diet, a vegan diet and an omnivorous diet.  All strategies to meet a need come with both costs and benefits, and as impermanence is the rule, no one strategy will always work to meet a need.  A person committed to a vegan diet may choose to meet their need for sustenance by consuming dairy products or meat if their pain (hunger) is great enough and their options are limited in the moment.

So, when we are training people to empathize, we are helping to clarify these distinctions, along with several more.  First we are teaching people to be aware of their own needs and what needs might be met by empathizing with another person.  We are also teaching and guiding them in certain practices designed to cultivate skills and awareness around 6 aspects of empathy:  presence (attention on the present moment and what is actually happening); focus (on the other person’s observations, feelings, needs and requests); space (creating an opportunity for the other person to explore what is important to them while letting go of our thoughts about “agenda” or “fixing”); verbal reflection (certain language patterns designed to support ourselves and others in maintaining presence, focus and space); sensory acuity to notice “shift” (indicators that another person’s needs for empathy and understanding have been met or are unmet); and finally clarifying requests (assisting the other person by empathizing with what they may want next.)

Jim Manske
Certified Trainer for The Center for Nonviolent Communication, cnvc.org
President, Network for NVC
 
 
Please check out my online newspaper:
http://www.scoop.it/t/radical-compassion

Applying the Lessons with Instant Results

“At an NVC parenting class I recently attended, I had the opportunity to go over an exchange that I had with my two year old son. The exchange with my son had left me feeling frustrated and sad, as well as at a loss for how to deal with his refusal to cooperate with me in the morning.

I just wanted a way to work together with my son that was respectful, and effective at getting him dressed!

After reviewing the scenario with the trainer, we then created a redo of the exchange to look at what I could try doing differently. I then “tried on” the idea of checking in with myself before reaching the boiling point of my frustration. I would simply pause to see what my own needs were in that moment. In this process I was able to identify what was really important to me in the situation. I then reflected on what needs were being unmet for me (the actual cause of my frustration), and what was really going on for my son, what was motivating him.

It was suggested that I also take a moment to notice that he was in fact only playing a game, and connecting with where he was at. In this case I could say, “Ah, seems like you are having a fun game right now?”

He was playing his “you cant get me game”, and I was needing to take care of myself and feeling unable to.

My frustration began melting in the realization that underlying my need for cooperation, was my need for my son’s and my own well being, i.e.; getting him dressed warmly, and myself fed.

I took this practice home and tried applying it right away, my son noticed a difference in my approach and our level of cooperation, and even more importantly to me, our level of connection improved tremendously! All of this shifted in mere moments. It turns out, cooperation and respect are only possible when both of us are feeling connection first.”

by Joy Parker-Brown, NVCnextgen Parenting Class attendee