I had an unfortunate conversation with my neighbour over a period of the last 2 days. Their stock animals have been grazing on our land in full view of their house. Over the years I have noted that they never take them off until we complain. So I communicate this and the reasons why we need the grass; or alternatively if we want to share or enter into some kind of arrangement,then lets do so.At the moment its a bit one-sided.
This is a typical farm neighbour situation-trouble over the fencing of stock. The neighbour is so aggressive I have chosen to put notes in the mailbox-a point which I expressed some regret and hope that we could be able to at least talk in the future.
I get a letter back which begins with "You're a liar!" and ends with"So shut up!" It is full of past resentments (the neighbour unsurprisingly has cancer), judgements, defensiveness. I don't want to go into the details of it; it isn't my point.
I'm disappointed at the way that we as a culture communicate.I have, in the last 2 and a half years been involved in overhauling my own language, and adopting a new one. Like many old habits, they can be hard to break. The new way cuts out judgement, criticism, put downs etc, and instead asks one to look at feelings and the underlying needs, wants and values that aren't being met. It goes further, to asking oneself and others for something which might help fulfill that need, value or want. The languages intention is to connect with others in a real, deep and human way.
This 'language of life' asserts that negative feelings (such as fear, guilt, anger etc) arise from unmet parts of our lives.And on the other hand, positive feelings(such as joy, peace and excitement) arise from these 'needs' being met.
It is profound and it works. It doesn't work in the currently popular means of getting your needs met at the expense of others- the tough love approach pervading our parenting meetings and schools. The fallout from that is silent resentment, depression, acting out of fear, shame or guilt. It has an unsatisfied party in the conversation.It breaks down connection between people. It also teaches bullying behaviour ie the getting ones demands met by coercion, creating fear and using force. You can see the results of this on the world stage as a country awakes, angry, and rids itself of a dictator.Rather it assumes the worth of the people involved in communicating. It assumes that getting what you want doesn't mean that the other doesn't get what they want.
I'm a fan.Its creator says it embodies spiritual values most of us subscribe to: loving your neighbour as yourself, peace, trust, compassion and so on They always struck me as great words, but how to put them into action-how to 'do' love- was missing. Also I'm programmed to start blaming, judging, criticising,comparing and that's hard to shift.I was bought up with it at home, school and the greater world.
I have successfully used this new language in the classroom, at home and with my family and friends. Dont worry, I still sound like me-you won't need an interpreter. But you and I may feel quite different during and at the end of our conversation.
This isnt an advertorial, but if you want to look at it more there are ways to learn it. Have a look at www.NVC.org.nz