Expert Advice

Message from Leslie at the Institute for Empowering Communication

Dear Friends,
I was listening recently to a Freakonomics radio podcast titled “Do More
Expensive Wines Taste Better?” One segment of this show told a story
about an economist who wanted to test the value of wine experts.He
fabricated a restaurant in Milan, Italy complete with wine menu and
beautiful website. The economist also entered a contest to see if he
could get a notable wine magazine with ‘expert wine advice’, to
recommend his restaurant. He was very surprised when he received a phone call notifying him the magazine would recommend his restaurant!

His conclusion is that we put a lot of trust in experts without good
reason.

There are many ways one could observe a person and give him or her the
title NVC ‘expert’. One could count the hours a person has trained.One
could observe the ways someone is synthesizing NVC into his or her own
life and work. One could name those who inspire awe in us because they
demonstrate fluency through their trainings. But there is a beautiful
irony in NVC. The person someone might label as an NVC ‘expert’ for these reasons, knows how to step out of the role of
expert. The expert knows he or she can only be an expert in his or her
own life. This person knows how not to give unsolicited advice, how to get off the pedestal of the ego as ‘expert’, and how to mourn the times when she or he did not keep NVC consciousness. NVC practitioners are most expert when they are not playing the expert!

If NVC practitioners are only expert in their own lives, then they are not experts as we usually understand experts. In NVC we are each experts in our lives. No one can know what feelings and needs are alive in a person except that person. Only I can express myself fully or seek a path of healing for myself. These teachings of NVC for me have been at once terrifying, “I’m really alone in this world, no one has the ability to guide my life but me,” and hugely empowering, “I have the power to determine what I do and say next.”

‘Self-expert’ might suggest myopia, that one is centered on oneself
only. In my opinion, the good news of NVC and many spiritual traditions
is that when we look in our hearts and ‘know ourselves’, we more often
than not discover an insatiable appetite for contributing to the well
being of others. I find beauty in understanding myself in relationship
but not expert about others’ lives. We discover our own power to
contribute wellbeing within the direct relationships we are in, a power
no one else can manifest but us. I hope the New Year is one of
empowerment and contribution for all of us and that our relationships
grow because of our unique presence in them.

Fondly,
Leslie

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About Institute for Empowering Communication

Co-founder of the Institute for Empowering Communication
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