Many believe it's only a true NVC request when we can ask for what we need without urgency or insistence. But what if we're the target of oppression and hate in a world with systemic inequality? Is it still nonviolence to abdicate power by allowing the person enacting harm to be the one to decide whether harm continues? The intensity of the need, degree of harm, and how chronically unmet the need is, are factors to guide us for when to apply force and demand within NVC. We can be attached to outcome, without being attached to strategy.
When conflict or criticism occurs, we can notice two layers of meaning to create connection: the content and the needs the speaker is holding. When we are able to recognize this --and ideally engage open-heartedly, with curiosity, make clear requests, imagining what they want, no matter how their expression was framed -- we have more opportunity to support the longevity of our relationships, and to decrease our loneliness when together.
The existing unequal risks and impacts people of certain race, class and identities face in society is magnified in these strenuous times -- especially with things such as illness, financial well being, discrimination, attacks, and death. As responsive NVC practitioners we can stand in solidarity with those who are differentially impacted. Read on for this, and additional ways to spot common pitfalls of doing so.
Amidst racial violence, there are things that NVC can offer. And there are places where NVC culture needs to be more vigilant. Here are examples of where, amidst incredible loss and pain, "allies" and communities commonly (and often unknowingly) create false equivalences, minimization and re-injure those who've been historically marginalized -- even when they offer empathy, or aim to stay "safe". Read on to cultivate greater understanding and ways to respond differently.
"All humans share the same needs" -- tragically, this idea can hide the reality that some people with less power in society have needs that go unmet to a greater extent, much longer, and with more dire consequences. Often, when the marginalized bring up experiences related to their membership in a certain group, their pain isn't acknowledged, and focus shifts to the listener's discomfort. The concept of universal human needs can be used to silence and minimize their pain. Read on for how to proceed.
- Explore the relationship between personal healing and social change
- Gain a fuller understanding of power and privilege
- Clarify the difference between equity and equality
- Learn how to navigate social issues with deeper love and compassion
- Create effective, equitable processes in your community
When someone's in immense pain and uses words that are hard to hear, see if you can bring in as much attention and compassion as you would to someone who was cut with a sword. Focusing on what's important to them, and not so much on how it was said. This may support greater understanding and healing. Otherwise, we risk prioritizing needs, norms, and inequities of the dominant culture, over caring for people who bear the invisible brunt of such norms.
Want to increase diversity, plus improve group dynamics and group functioning? There are things you can do to make NVC settings more welcoming to people of color. Learn more about how to use NVC; attend to impact; help the community understand and demonstrate more awareness; factor in historical context; engage; create a more inclusive climate; and more!
When we're on the receiving end of pain-stimulating assumptions, a microaggression, or prejudice --when we're reactive and resultingly have self-doubt, guilt or shame in ourselves-- is it possible to be intensely authentic while holding care for everyone in the situation? Can we effectively do this even as a third party witnesses to these things? Self-empathy, empathy, and a commitment to authenticity have become essential tools I need to keep sharpened in my toolbox if I am to show up and do the work I value in this world.