Pole-Vaulting toward Honesty – Wham!

Message from Leslie at the Institute for Empowering Communication

Dear Friends,

One side of me wants to write only about things against which I have prevailed because the heroine story is very fun to tell. The following account is more difficult to share because I’m still in the midst of the NVC Dance. I am neither heroine nor have we as a family arrived at a strategy. I hope not to prevail, but for all our needs to be valued in the process.

I’m thinking about the three places one can ‘be’ in the model of Nonviolent Communication consciousness, honesty, empathy or self-empathy. One can express oneself honestly, one can receive another empathically, or one can connect with oneself in self-empathy. My tendency is to want to pole-vault to honesty from wherever I am in the process. Beneath this is my longing to be heard.

I did this recently when I was discussing with my family dates for inviting
friends over to our house. I felt distressed and needed order in our home. I wished to finish some unpacking from our move before opening our home to others. When another member of my family proposed a strategy contrary to mine I jumped to expressing myself. We still are working on hearing each other’s needs and have not arrived at a strategy that meets all of our needs.

It is often in times when strategies conflict that I pole vault into honesty. I get caught up in the outcome of strategies, rather than staying in the process.

When I find myself pole vaulting to honesty, I am, in my experience,
shortcutting the process. I’ve usually spent some time hearing another, some time hearing myself, but not long enough. I long to grow in my ability to choose not to respond, to choose silence until I have spent more time in both areas hearing someone else and hearing myself before I speak.

This reminds me of one of my children’s pre-school teachers who had what I considered remarkable relationships with children. “I just have to stop talking sometimes”, she said, “There is a time to stop talking”. I think I understand what she was doing. She wasn’t becoming inactive in the classroom. She was becoming more heart connected to the children or to herself. She was either assessing what the children needed or she was figuring out what she needed, a break, support in a situation, or cooperation potentially?

Silence is not ‘nothing’ in Compassionate Communication, it gives one two
distinct opportunities to hear what the other is feeling and needing and to hear oneself, to hear what is going on deep inside oneself.

Pole vaulting to honesty has usually meant landing on top of the other person. Wham!I like the metaphor that Compassionate Communication is like a dance, because it reminds me that stepping, gliding and jigging are more likely to achieve trust and connection in a relationship than launching into honesty on a pole.



About Institute for Empowering Communication

Co-founder of the Institute for Empowering Communication
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