Street Giraffes is a free tele-practice group that gathers on the first Sunday of each month for “dialogue lab” experimentation w/ iGiraffe (towards building street [giraffe] cred &/or muscle-memory) — in the hopes that by cultivating presence we may enhance our conversational versatility.
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“NVC is an awareness discipline masquerading as a communication process.”
~ Kit Miller of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence
What’s Up Next?
June 4, 2017 ~ Crazy Like a Fox
Ode to Joy, by Beethoven (1824) – Credit: Kokin
|There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.|
Do you have a [universal human] needs guessing practice towards recognizing judgments (“jackals”) then fluently translating into a living-energy of needs?
Credit: Barry Goyette
Tool for the call:
While watching a family of foxes recently, I noticed the similarity to jackals in the wild, and thought to offer a couple of practices you can do at home (alone). If guessing needs, off a needs lists (whether mental or actual), could be viewed as ‘doing the math’ — let’s say algebra — then the first exercise will be a simplified version (arithmetic) while the second will be more complex (calculus).
So, to begin, much of the time our ‘jackals’ (or the judgmental thoughts that arise unbidden) murmur beneath our conscious detection. Sort of like a critter curled up, sleeping, beneath a tree. However, its eyes pop open when a stimulus arises (whether within or without). At this point our minds are offering a kind of narration, akin to the Greek chorus in an ancient dramatic play, and it has begun to intrude upon our conscience awareness (or the action of our live’s unfolding play).
As the head arises, it’s an indication of a thought/feeling tripwire that is seeking to be attended to. This is the beginning of the NVC process, distinguishing the observation/stimulus from our evaluation/interpretation. It’s also sometimes the beginning as well as the end, when we conflate observation and interpretation (or in cognitive schools, the activating event and our belief: ). So the first step is to notice the stirring of the jackal, as it raises its head, it offers an opportunity for exploration (towards something valued, crazy like a fox).
In NVC mediation, tracking needs is the name of the game, and one of the pioneers in this field — John Kinyon — has developed a list based on three meta categories of needs: well-being (peace), connection (love), meaning (joy). All the rest of the needs could fit within these three broader subgroups. This can come in handy, when an especially conflicted mediation drains our energetic reserves. Instead of the extra computational processing required in deterring a specific need, John has offered a practice of categorizing according to these three larger frameworks. Is this the realm of well-being (peace), connection (love), or meaning (joy)? And by orienting oneself to this in our quiet/down-time, it may arise more automatically when confronted by a heated situation.
Peace | Love | Joy
|[PDF] John Kinyon’s Needs List|
|Mediate Your Life Handouts – Self-Connection Process (SCP)|
A mnemonic memory device I’ve used to recall the the three needs beneath is Elvis Costello’s song:
By practicing this simpler, more arithmetic-like form of needs guessing, we’re becoming accustomed to seeing the jackal (or fox) as a guardian of something we value (one of the universal human needs) and hopefully becoming more adept at discerning between an observation and our thoughts.
See too: ABCDE Model REBT – Animated
Jackals, on guard, are a signal towards…
A second, more challenging offshoot of this peace/love/joy needs-guessing practice comes when listening to a ‘hard-to-hear’ message, such as something you disagree with in politics or culture. Ike Lasater, another pioneer of NVC mediation, has said that he’ll listen to NPR or some other news program, especially mindful of attuning to views with which he disagrees, and utilizes this as an opportunity for ‘stealth’ (or silent) needs-guessing practice. Listening, while discerning which of the three broad brushstrokes (of needs) are being valued, can come in handy when the rubber meets the road in real life.
A second, more complex needs guessing practice is converting a (single word) need to a full-fledged phrase. If you think of strategies and needs being on two opposite ends of a spectrum, the needs phrase is positioning our guess somewhere in the middle, between that which is overly generalized (as one word can be, such as the need for love or meaning), while avoiding the specificity of a strategy (something that is attached to a person, location, action, time, or object that may be disagreeable to our interlocutor). A phrase can be more connecting, as it’s more relatable, but may avoid the trap of something too concrete for common ground.
So when we think back to our jackal stirring, notice that the interpretive framework of a jackal likely includes some reference to the past or concern as to the future, a kind of probability vector that it wants to avoid.
As you become skilled at translating a jackal thought to one of the three needs, it will become second nature that jackals have a method to their madness (which may not be obvious, initially). That there is a concern, a sense of lack (an unmet need) that is calling out for attention. That the internal process of transforming a sense of mourning to an appreciation for the beauty of the need in play.
Phase One – Intrapersonal
Identifying Jackal(s) – The Probability Vector
Jackal’s role: identifying what’s not working.
The jackal raises up from its more slumbering perch when it becomes agitated by what’s not working (detecting a kind of ‘bad faith’ — whether now or in the past) and projects this trajectory, and its potential impact, into the future. It’s role is as an advocate for greater authenticity (self-honesty, authenticity with others) and a harbinger as to its view of the ‘probability vector’ that we are currently on. By howling in its “should”/”shouldn’t” dialectic, it’s alerting to likely pitfalls.
Watching the Jackal Show
Mourning & Beauty of Needs — Keep channel open…
(Courtesy of the work of Robert Gonzales)
|1. Stimulus (observation)
|2. Jackal Thoughts
a. Write the thought
3. Review the original stimulus
a. Consider stimulus
b. Name and be with the unmet needs of the stimulus
c. Name and be with the the feelings around the unmet need
d. Stay here until you feel a shift towards relaxed, relief.
This is the mourning stage.
Feelings around unmet needs:
|5. Experience the beauty of the need.
Describe your experience of the beauty of the unmet need: if troubled, remember a time when the need was met, how wonderful that felt.
|Beauty of the Need:
|6. Bring beauty of needs awareness to original stimulus.
Notice and write down if any feelings or needs come alive.
(If applicable, make any request related to those feelings and needs.)
|Re-cycle through process, if/when necessary (cyclical rather than linear as new jackals get stimulated throughout)|
Needs exclude all tangibles, i.e. PLATO – Person, Location, Action, Time or Object
Phase Two – Interpersonal
Once connected with that which is longed for, whether in our own lives or another’s, we can fine tune our description by moving from a single word towards crafting a phrase (the calculus practice).
Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
(Between 13 – 23:30 minute mark)
Via the work of Miki Kashtan: “To focus on another challenging line to walk in learning to have fluidity in our communication. It’s the line that separates strategies from needs while still maintaining relevant contextual specificity in the choice of words for needs. (Have a copy of the needs list available as you do this activity so as to enjoy variety.) Collect a variety of situations in which you are very clear what the preferred strategy is for you or for someone else. For each of them, do the following steps: 1) Write down the strategy minus any evaluation or demand, just exactly what you or the other person wants; 2) Find the need that seems the most relevant to you for this strategy. If this is your preferred strategy, you can usually fully identify the need. If it’s another person’s preferred strategy, just write down your best guess. This will almost always be just one word from the needs list: autonomy, respect, competence, love, meaning, etc. 3) Find a full phrase consisting of a few words that is specific enough to fit the context and yet is still clearly a need and not a strategy. For example, the needs-phrase of ‘harmony with family members’ vs. the need (word) of ‘harmony’ – and not (the strategy) “to get along with my family.”
[See also: PLATO]
1) Scenario; 2) Preferred Strategy; 3) [Universal] Need; 4) Phrase
Need (word) – Effectiveness
Need Phrase – Effectiveness of a crisp message
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at the Civil Rights March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963.
(Credit: Army images)
Alternate Need Phrase – Effectiveness of large numbers
Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where he delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech during the Aug. 28, 1963, march on Washington, D.C. (Credit: Marines via Wiki)
See an additional example here: Phrasing Needs
Example (to experiment with yourself):
2) Preferred Strategy: Rosenberg opted to call it “Nonviolent Communication”
3) [Universal Human] Need: __________ – Needs List
4) Phrase: ________________________________________
Inquiry: What Need [#3] and/or Full-Need Phrase [#4] best captures why Marshall Rosenberg might have chosen the name “Nonviolent Communication” [#2] to refer to the dialogue process he developed in the 1960s which paralleled the civil rights & nonviolent resistance movements of that era [#1]?
Via the CNVC.org website:
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on the principles of nonviolence — the natural state of compassion when no violence is present in the heart. NVC begins by assuming that we are all compassionate by nature and that violent strategies—whether verbal or physical—are learned behaviors taught and supported by the prevailing culture. NVC also assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions are a strategy to meet one or more of these needs. People who practice NVC have found greater authenticity in their communication, increased understanding, deepening connection and conflict resolution.
President Lyndon B. Johnson meets with Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (Credit: Yoichi Okamoto via Wikimedia Commons)
Need vs. Strategy or request
|Need||Strategy / Request|
|Abstract, no reference to a specific person, action or time||Specific, doable, observable behaviour|
|Needs are a-scriptive, it is difficult to put words on what is also described as “the universal energy that connects all of us”. Need language is probably the closest we can get to verbally describe this universal energy.||Descriptive|
|What I want to have fulfilled||What I want others or myself to do|
Phrase to exclude all tangibles, i.e. PLATO – Person, Location, Action, Time or Object
Portrait of Martha Graham by Nickolas Muray
I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. in each it is the performance of a dedicated set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which comes the shape of achievement, a sense of one’s being, a satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some areas an athlete of God. ~ Martha Graham
Utilizing “Universal-Need-Full-Phrase” in Role Plays:
1. Engage in more role plays — here’s the basic outline:
a. In a particular scenario, think of your preferred strategy, and translate it into a full-phrase need.
i. Find the underlying need that is expressed through this strategy.
ii. Fit this need into a full-phrase need that is specific to the context and the truth of the moment without including specific people, location, action, time, or object [PLATO].
iii. If you find that elements of strategy are still present, look for a deeper need that is informing the need you previously identified. For example, sometimes clarity can be a strategy for safety. Once you find a deeper need, it will usually be easier to find a strategy free contextualized full-phrase need.
b. Communicate as fluidly as possible to your dialogic/role-play partner as that other person. Remember to include a request.
c. Have your dialogic/role-play partner respond as the other person, without use of NVC.
d. Apply the same process to what the other person says to respond empathically:
i. Find a full-phrase need underlying whatever they said, be it strategy, judgment, demand, or anything else.
ii. Put that need in an empathic guess without the words feeling or need.
e. Continue in this slow-motion kind of dialogue, choosing empathy or expression in each round.
2. Offer each other empathy for whatever you want that kind of attention, and every few moments pause the process and find the full-phrase need that would fit the context. Once you reach fluency, the goal is to focus on full-phrase need language most of the time.