What’s Up Next? Sunday, June 4, 2017 ~ Crazy Like a Fox (Method to Jackal Madness)


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

Hymne joie 01

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.

Martha Graham


Crazy Like a Fox

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)


Steps Write
1.  Stimulus (observation)

(write out)



2.  Jackal Thoughts

a.  Write the thought
b.  Say aloud with energy!
c.  “I’m telling myself…”

3.  Review the original stimulus

Jackal thoughts:




4.  Self-empathize

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.

Unmet needs:




Feelings around unmet needs:




Steps Write:
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

Ode to Joy

Schiller an die freude manuskript 2

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).

Phrasing Needs

Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Phrasing Needs

(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):

Needs List

1) ScenarioMarshall Rosenberg developed a communication process in the 1960s.[3]

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)

Courtesy of ~ Need vs. Strategy or request – NVCWiki

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

martha_graham_by_nickolas_murayPortrait 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.

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5/17 ~ On Long Neckin’ & Anticipatory Beneficial Regret


What’s Up Next?

May 14, 2017 ~ On Long Neckin’ [Homo Prospectus]
& (Anticipatory) Beneficial Regret

Flickr - Rainbirder - High-rise living.jpgSteve Garvie –
High-rise living

“We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? …A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise.” ~ Martin E. P. Seligman


How do you learn from the past and/or apply lessons learned — ‘beneficial regret’ — towards the future (while staying grounded in the present moment)?  We’ll explore how needs-consciousness & NVC skills can be useful in processing more painful emotions.

Credit:  Havang(nl) (via Wikimedia Commons)

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Power

(Via Wiki: Team Naked Pictures of Be a Arthur)

(beneath is courtesy of the work of Jim and Jori Manske)

Beneficial regret

Acknowledging and learning from one’s missed opportunity to meet needs, without guilt, shame, or self-punishment.

(via Matrix)

Positive Intent | Need Missed

Action Taken (as observation) Positive Intent – Related Need(s) Need(s) Not Attended To
Arriving later than time agreed to Efficacy (completed task) Consideration (of another)
 Did not do _____  Need X Need Y
 Said, “______”  Need X Need Y

Which need animated your conduct (positive intent)?
Which need wasn’t attended to in how things unfolded?

Sustenance  Order Belonging Meaning  Transcendence
Security  Love  To Matter Honesty  Freedom  

Needs consciousness

Awareness of (and the willingness to honor) needs, the essential universal elemental qualities of life (like sustenance, love and meaning).

(via Matrix)

“We may believe that mistakes have been made already and that we cannot go back to the past to change things. When we look deeply into the relative nature of time, we see that the past has created the present. If we seize the present moment with mindfulness, we are in touch with the past. We can actually go back to the past, while staying firmly rooted in the present moment, and heal the past. We forgive ourselves for our mistakes, knowing we didn’t have enough wisdom or the right conditions at that time to do better. We transform our regrets in the present into compassion and understanding, and in this way we also transform the past.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Savor


Matrix | Pathways to Liberation

Beneficial regret: Acknowledging and learning from oneʹs missed opportunity to meet needs, without guilt, shame, or self‐punishment.

Unskilled:  Takes responsibility for the feelings of others with guilt and/or shame, or defends oneself; apologizes to protect oneself by assuaging anotherʹs feelings.

Awakening:  Newfound awareness that othersʹ  feelings are caused by their needs, and may want others to ʺget over it”. Heightened awareness of habit of self‐ blame.

Capable:  Increasing ability to transform guilt into learning. Fostering willingness to seek connection with others (with empathy and honesty) when events did not work for others.

Integrated:  Consistent willingness to openly own oneʹs part in outcomes that did not meet needs; willingness to feel and express regret; seeks learning and growth.

Credit:  Sidney Smith (1877-1935)

We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment – The New York Times

We are misnamed. We call ourselves Homo sapiens, the “wise man,” but that’s more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart from other animals? Various answers have been proposed — language, tools, cooperation, culture, tasting bad to predators — but none is unique to humans.

What best distinguishes our species is an ability that scientists are just beginning to appreciate: We contemplate the future. Our singular foresight created civilization and sustains society. It usually lifts our spirits, but it’s also the source of most depression and anxiety, whether we’re evaluating our own lives or worrying about the nation.  Other animals have springtime rituals for educating the young, but only we subject them to “commencement” speeches grandly informing them that today is the first day of the rest of their lives.

A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise. Looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is a central function of our large brain, as psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered — rather belatedly, because for the past century most researchers have assumed that we’re prisoners of the past and the present…(continues)

The giraffe ‘neck-shortening’ cartoon further up and neck-elongating video clip below…

…Reminded me of one of the symbolic reasons as to why Marshall Rosenberg chose the long-necked giraffe: the evolutionary adaptive trait of being able to see far out into the distance — as is described in the video beneath:  seeing the “big picture”, taking the “long view” — as a characteristic of choosing our words wisely (considering their potential impact, in advance).  I’ve heard it said that other animals will gather around a watering hole, when a giraffe is present, as there is a sense of trust that they have scoped the surrounding terrain and deemed it safe.

In a sense, these evolutionary traits, the long-neck and large heart, offered Marshall a symbolic shorthand for conveying the intent of communicating with NVC consciousness in mind.  To choose one’s words with the long view and from a big-hearted (or emotionally connected) orientation to life.

(Courtesy of Etan J. Tal via Wikimedia Commons)

One of the stories told during the time of Marshall’s memorial was by Dominic Barter when he spoke of hitch hiking from England to Marshall’s residence, then in Switzerland, and having Marshall pose the question of ‘what is the evolutionary value of emotions?’  In an NVC context, of course, our feelings are akin to our nerve endings, by alerting us to pain, our emotions can help us make adjustments (away from the too hot stove or any similarly destructive scenario).  Dominic, who had been studying anatomy and physiology at the time (in a formal academic setting), was struck by how in all his previous, more ‘high brow’ consideration of the human organism, that fundamental truth (emotions ‘raison d’être’) had gone unremarked.

While it may have been noted that those with a kind of brain damage that effects their emotional range might have difficulty with discernment and judgment, the direct linkage of our emotions as ‘nerve-ending’ like indicators of what we are valuing (a.k.a. universal human needs), at any given moment, was’t even a blip on the proverbial scholarly radar.

Feelings awareness

Ability to identify and experience our physical sensations and emotions.

(via Matrix)

Evolutionary function of Feelings —–> Needs

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) – “Feelings” Is Parsley


Transforming the suffering of loss; letting go of resistance to what is, and being willing to allow our experience to unfold.

(via Matrix)

 Joanna Macy – Embracing Pain

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4/17 ~ On Being All Ears


What’s Up Next?

(Courtesy of Holger Motzkau)

April 2017 ~ On Being All Ears
(& the Dynamism of Universal Human Needs)

Russian figure skater wins gold with program that included audio from 9/11


A jest’s prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hear it, never in the tongue
Of him that makes it…

~ William Shakespeare
Act 5, Scene II of Love’s Labour’s Lost

Courtesy of Irina Polikanova (via Wikimedia Commons)


How do you speak into the listening of others?

Practice:  Write down a stimulus, as an observation, and then notice how your interpretation morphs as you journal four differing evaluative contexts (of jackal/giraffe ears, both outward/in).

Handout for Sunday’s tele-practice group:

Communication Flow Chart (2nd page)
&/or Jackal/Giraffe Ears – Four Choices

(Building on our experimentation with strengths & learning/growing edges, we’ll continue to explore the NVC skills which might help transfigure —  Strength/Edge_Worksheet — the listening context that we lend, both to ourselves and others.)

Anubis mask (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

 Thich Nhat Hahn:
We need someone to be able to listen to us and to understand us. Then, we will suffer less. But everyone is suffering, and no one wants to listen.

Four Choices When Hearing a Difficult Message

Judgmental (Jackal) Ears Out

Blame or Criticize the other person

“It’s your fault.”
“You’re bad/wrong.”
“You should____.”

(Voice of Anger)

Judgmental (Jackal) Ears In

Blame or criticize yourself

“It’s my fault.”
“I’m bad/wrong.”
“I should_____.”

(Voice of Guilt, Shame, Depression)

Generative (Giraffe) Ears In

Connect to your internal experience

“I’m feeling__________ because I need/value____________.”

(Voice of Self-Empathy)

Generative (Giraffe) Ears Out

Connect to the underlying cause of the other’ s communication

“Are you feeling________ because you value/need____________?”

(Voice of Empathy)

FYI ~ Here is a link to the recording from “Recovering from Reactivity” (utilizing the giraffe/jackal ears handout:  Four Choices.pdf) via a  free webinar courtesy of Jim & Jori Manske
papilio_polymnestor-kadavoor-2016-07-27-002“Papilio polymnestor-Kadavoor-2016-07-27-002” © Jee & Rani Nature Photography is used here under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License – Life cycle of Papilio machaon

For as Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us:
Listening is a very deep practice… you have to empty yourself. You have to leave space in order to listen… especially to people we think are our enemies — the ones we believe are making our situation worse. When you have shown your capacity for listening and understanding, the other person will begin to listen to you, and you have a chance to tell him or her of your pain, and then it’s your turn to get healed. This is the practice of peace.


From the book, The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci, which begins a chapter on empathy with this instrumental analogy:

“Although I am not a musician, I once had the opportunity to hold in my hands an exquisitely made violin dating to the eighteenth century.  What amazed me, even more than its harmonious lines or the beautiful grain of its wood, was that, holding it, I could feel it vibrate.  It was not an inert object.  It resonated with the various sounds that happened to resonate around it:  another violin, a tram passing in the street, a human voice.  If you hold an ordinary, factory-made violin, that just doesn’t happen.  There can be hundreds of sounds around it and the violin remains numb.  In order to obtain that fine sensitivity and extraordinary resonance of the old violin, the makers had to had an exceptional knowledge of wood and its seasoning; they were supported by the artisan tradition of generations, and they were endowed with the talent of cutting the wood and furnishing the instrument.  This marvelous responsiveness is an active virtue.  It is the capacity of the violin to enter into resonance, and it goes hand in hand with its capacity to create sound of extraordinary quality — music with a soul, able to move and to inspire.  We human are, or at least can be, like that violin.”

FT:  Putin’s cellist friend ‘interested only in musical instruments’

Guardian:  Sergei Roldugin, the cellist who holds the key to tracing Putin’s hidden fortune

WaPo:  Trump Foundation admits to violating ban on ‘self-dealing’

The “invisible foot” ensures us that in a free-market … economy each person pursuing only his own good will automatically, and most efficiently, do his part in maximizing the general public misery. ” ~ E. K. Hunt

 “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
~ Epictetus

Giraffes facing extinction after devastating decline – The Guardian

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3/17 ~ More on our Learning Curves (Rounding Edges w/ Strengths)

What’s Up Next?

March 2017 ~ More on our Learning Curves
(Rounding Edges w/ Strengths)

(Bookbinding via Simon A. Eugster)


What are your strengths and/or (learning/growing) edges?  Have you identified which NVC skills, currently under your belt, might buttress those yet beyond your grasp (e.g. using “presence” to fortify “feelings-awareness” etc.)?

Handout for Sunday’s tele-practice group:  Strength/Edge_Worksheet


We’ll experiment with differing strength/edge skill pairings during the dialogue lab (w/ iGiraffe) portion of our call:

Alternate_iGiraffe (remote_control)

(Wikimedia Commons Figure Skating Edges courtesy of Hergilei)

Strength or Edge?  e.g. Try divvying up (into the two columns beneath) which of these handful of Matrix skills you consider to be either a strength &/or edge:  Presence;  Observing;  Feelings-Awareness;  Needs-Consciousness;  Request-Consciousness & Making Requests;  Honest Self-Expression;  Empathy;  Patience;  Reconnecting-to-Self & Recovering-from-Reactivity

Strength      |           Edge    



Recovering from Reactivity

Presence  Observing  Feelings-Awareness  Needs-Consciousness  Requests
Honest Self-Expression  Empathy   Patience Recovering from Reactivity  Self-Acceptance  

What’s an edge that you would like to build upon?
(Pick a complementary strength that might support you in developing this skill.)

Pathways to Liberation – Matrix

Listen to a (free) recording of one way to use the Matrix here.


Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2.pdf
Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2 large.pdf

Three Necessities for Integrating NVC

An individually crafted practice
to support integrating NVC in your life.

1. Identify an edge
2. Identify a strength

(Consider, how can you use your strength to support your edge?)

Skills to consider:

Feelings -Awareness
Recovering from Reactivity
Making Requests Empathy
Honest Self-Expression

Strength/Edge practice originated with Jim & Jori Manske via 1) Radical Compassion – Matrix & 2) Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy – see last slide of their handout here – [PDF].

Here is the link to the audio recording of their (free) 2/25/17 call.

Per Newsletter:  This is a taste of what the NVC Academy library offers.  Click here to explore the library more fully.  To support NVC Academy’s mission of making NVC available to everyone who wants it, please donate here.  The Manskes will be teaching a free class on the 4th Saturday of March (March 25th) to explore “Recovering From Reactivity” (register here).

The Flight Simulator – Mediate Your Life

(WikiMedia Commons: United States Air Force – Master Sgt. Jeffrey Allen)

Lastly, try identifying a practice (e.g. Three-Layers-of-Empathy) that may support you in utilizing a strength [e.g. needs-consciousness] to fortify an edge [e.g. recovering from reactivity] in this instance, towards ‘taking it down a notch’ — from a warmer to cooler hue:

Red, Yellow, Green


Fleshing out the concept of ‘needs-consciousness’ (via Robert Gonzales)

Transforming the Pain of Unmet Needs to the Beauty of Needs

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 


Robert Gonzales on the Beauty Of Needs

The Essential Living Energy of Needs

There is only one life energy, one life force. Everything in existence has the same life energy flowing through us. Needs are qualitative, an expression of our life energy. All needs are forms of life itself.

See the person’s longing, their need, whenever you are interacting with another person. We can learn to have compassion for ourselves – we invite and listen to the pain. At the heart of the pain is that part of us which wants to be seen and heard and invited. Compassionately accept whatever arises in yourself. So you can compassionately accept whatever arises in the other person.

Needs are an aspect or an expression of the energy of life. We experience the beauty of a need when we are in contact with the quality of its energy.

Developing the ability to focus our attention on and intention to connect to the life energy within needs is one of the most important abilities we develop within NVC. This practice is the embodied spirituality of NVC: in touch with our essence, we follow the longing, the yearning to experience this quality of the ecstatic flow of life. When we do this, we are in touch with the need in an embodied way, we experience its qualities, its essence, how it feels when that need is met and how we experience this “met-ness” in our body, emotions, and in our very being.

(Via Notes from a Workshop with Robert Gonzales – courtesy of Diane Emerson)

Learn to value Beauty/Living-Energy-of-Needs (Aliveness) more than:

  • being right
  • getting what you want in the moment
  • Learn that no one can take ALIVENESS from you


Past Experience

Physical Awareness

Emotional Awareness



Being at the center of one’s own life
(Plato’s idea of perception courtesy of RobinHEnglish Wikibooks)

Needs vs. Strategies


If you have any one of the above five (more temporal, tangible) qualities, than what you are focused on is most likely a strategy — rather than a need.

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2/17 ~ Our Corners-n-Edges

What’s Up Next?


February 2017 ~ Our Corners & Edges

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” 


What are your conversational street signs (e.g. OFNRRed/Green/Yellow)?  Rules of the road (e.g. [NVC] Communication Flow Chart)?  How do you stay in your own lane (e.g. Self-Connection Process)?


Tools for this week’s practice group:

Jean Béraud (Walters Art Museum)

Institute for Mindfulness:

Image result for nvc focuses on two questions

Giraffe Fighting:

Reflect on moments of tensions that you’ve experienced…

  • Write down an observation/stimulus (or several) from such exchanges.
  • Track what were the specific moments, or corners, when these interactions shifted in tone (through the Red, Green, Yellow light spectrum — see Chapman’s “Mindful Communication” beneath)?
  • How did your responses attend to ‘what’s alive’ (your own needs/values)?  How not?
  • How did your responses attend to what the other may have been valuing?  How not?
  • Going forward, identify your ‘strategic discomfort zones’ (growing edges), noting how you might more fully attend to ‘what’s alive’ both in yourself and others (i.e. with greater presence to all of the universal-human-needs on the table).
  • Can you envision what might have ‘made life more wonderful’ (strategies that might have served both sets of needs)?

“The course of conflict isn’t determined by the person who initiates but by the person who responds.” ~ Mozart In The Jungle

(Photo above courtesy of Wiki Commons via Arriva436)

(Accepting Limitations While Simultaneously Stretching) — About 5 minutes in… Being mindful of our ‘strategic discomfort’ (our growing edges)

Wanting Fully Without Attachment – Tikkun Magazine

National Archives and Records Administration

In her book on The Five Keys to Mindful CommunicationSusan Gillis Chapman writes about communication that is closed (red light), open (green light), or somewhere-in-between (yellow light).  Initially, Chapman suggest, it’s useful to cultivate an awareness of the more obvious states: green/open & red/closed.  The yellow light is a more nuanced state, often imperceptible (unless mindful), however it may also hold greater potential for increasing our communicative efficacy.


The Five Keys To Mindful Communication (book’s study guidelines)

Delineating Susan Chapman’s five essential elements of mindful communication:

• Mindful Presence (awake body, tender heart, open mind)
• Mindful Listening (encouragement)
• Mindful Speech (gentleness)
• Mindful Relationships (unconditional friendliness)
• Mindful Responses (playfulness)

See also:  The Five Keys to Mindful Communication


Triune Brain – Interpersonal Neurobiology

(Image courtesy of Wiki Commons – ManosHacker)

“First, I realized how I distort my view of other people when I’m reacting defensively. I also saw that when I can open up and see another person in a fresh way, my own self-image transforms. On the surface, these two insights might not seem to be that a big deal. Not as exciting as a dog and a hungry bear rolling in play.* But learning how to switch out of defensiveness into a more humorous, receptive state of mind is a big deal – it is the key to happy, harmonious relationships and communities.”  (Chapman’s “The Five Keys to Mindful Communication”, p. 3)

FYI ~ Polar Bear Plays with Sled Dogs : snopes.com

*The photos circulating around the Internet were of a polar bear and a dog playing together.  I first saw them in a National Geographic magazine many years ago and was captivated by the story.  A dog named Churchill was tied up to a stake in the ice.  His owner spotted a starving bear, just out of hibernation, through the window of his cabin.  He watched in horror as the bear approached his dog.  Feeling powerless to protect his pet from certain death, he grabbed his camera and snapped pictures of the scene unfolding before his eyes.  But to his amazement, what he ended up witnessing was how Churchill saved his own life.  As the bear lumbered toward him, Churchill crouched down and wagged his tail.  In spite of his ravenous hunger, the bear responded to the signal and switched from predator to playmate.  One of the photos shows Churchill and the bear embraced in an affectionate hug as they tumbled and rolled around on the ice.  Then the huge polar bear turned and ambled away.  Over the next few days, the bear returned to the site several times to play with his new friend.  The National Geographic photo essay came into my life at the right moment.  I had been preparing to teach a series of workshops on mindful communication, where students would learn practical skills in bringing awareness, insight, compassion, and choice to their communication…”
~ Susan Gillis Chapman

Bull and bear in front of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Photo courtesy of Eva K.)

 Continuum (& related exercise) beneath via

NYCNVC – The New York Center for Nonviolent Communication

The Exercise – Shifting Toward Compassion

Even though this is an online exercise, you still need a pen or pencil and a piece of paper with a blank side. I created this exercise so people can have what I call a “Shift”. By that I mean experience a “shift” in what you are thinking about and a shift in how you feel. Read More …

The Connection Continuum:
<<< You and I (always moving back and forth) >>>continuum-connection

rage, disconnection and violence                                 connection, compassion, peace

Note parallel between Mindful Communication’s “Green Light” (above)
the NVC’s “Zero Step” (below)


Taste of Compassionate Leadership Free Teleclass – NVC Academy


Characteristics of the Zero Step:

• Warmth toward self and other
• Care for the vitality of both yourself and other(s)
• Wonder/Interest
• Vulnerability/Empathy
• Which leads directly to Connection Requests
• Openness to Outcome

More notes on “Zero Step” here.  (Recording of Zero Step presentation by Manskes, January 2017:  Download Recording)

Four Steps of NVC

“In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”
Louis Pasteur

NVC Model

empathetically listening:





honestly expressing:







What is Mindful Communication?

Additional videos:  Green Zone Communication (videos)

Three green-light faculties as the basis for mindfulness practice:

• Awake body, the ability to pay attention
• Tender heart, the ability to empathize with others
• Open mind, the ability to be honest, curious, and insightful.


Red Light

Notice when you’ve become defensive and closed off. Be careful. Communicating in this zone can lead to difficult and painful reactions.

Yellow Light

Pay attention to the limbo between open and closed. Relax with the uncertainty. Pause, reflect, linger there, and let possibilities emerge.

Green Light

When your state of mind is open, feel free to explore your connection with others. Share. Learn. Change. Expand.

Susan Chapman – Mindful Communication poster

The Three Lights

In my mindful-communication workshops, the metaphor we use to notice whether communication is closed, open, or somewhere in-between, is the changing traffic light. When the channel of communication closes down, we imagine the light has turned red. When communications feels open again, we say the light has turned green. When communication feels in between, or on the verge of closing down, we say the light has turned yellow. Participants find that the changing-traffic-light imagery helps them identify their various styles of communication, and to recognize the consequences of each.

We use the green and red lights to highlight open and closed patterns because this isn’t something we normally track. Once those are clear, we zero in on the in-between stage of the yellow light. Following is a brief overview of what the lights mean. The red light indicates that communication has shut down… (continues)

Mindful Communication – Which of Our Emotions are Accurate?


Excerpted from Chapman’s The Five Keys to Mindful Communication: Using Deep Listening and Mindful Speech to Strengthen Relationships, Heal Conflicts, and Accomplish Your Goals:

“The yellow light describes the period in between the green and red light, the gap of groundlessness that occurs just before communication shuts down. We’ve been caught off guard and we feel embarrassed, irritated, or disappointed by an unexpected event. Below the surface of these reactions, deeper fears and self-doubts are exposed. If we can meet these fears with gentle insight, using mindfulness practice, we can intercept our red-light triggers…” (continues)

Susan Chapman – online class, “working with fear”


Susan Chapman on how “green zones” help us to identify our projections

Open/Closed emotions & how to reconnect to the “Natural Communication System”

Susan Chapman is a marriage and family therapist and author who presents training programs applying mindfulness to conversations, relationships and communities.

Resources:  Green Zone Conversations – Green Light Institute

Click to hear interviews with Susan Chapman

See too:  What is Mindful Communication


In a World in Crisis – Mindful Communication Matters

“Our survival as a species depends on our ability to recognize that our well-being and the well-being of others are in fact one and the same.”
~ Marshall Rosenberg

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1/17 ~ Reflection & Renewal

What’s Up Next?

January 2017 ~ Reflection & Renewal

François Barraud – La Tailleuse de Soupe


Do you have any New Year’s dialogic intentions?  Such as a quality of NVC consciousness that you are drawn to, perhaps wanting to cultivate and more skillfully integrate (by this time, next year)?  How might you go about this (what ritual might support you as a practitioner)?


Try reviewing the Self-Assessment Matrix
(see more, below) to see if any one skill jumps out at you.

(e.g.  ‘Presence’)

For simplicity’s sake:

Matrix co-creators Jim & Jori Manske have suggested these five skills  as “easy ways to integrate NVC, anywhere/everywhere”:

  • Presence

  • Observing

  • Feelings Awareness

  • Needs-Consciousness

  • Gratitude

Notice how each of the skills above can also be complementary in our capacity for growth with another skill — e.g. distinguishing between observation and interpretation can lend itself to cultivating presence (wanting-fully-without-attachment) or sensing into our ‘feelings awareness’ can naturally flow into a heightened state of ‘needs-consciousness’ etc.

These skills are further delineated by clicking on the chart beneath:

Four Competencies of NVC (Consciousness) ~
Unskilled, Awakening, Capable & Integrated:

Self-Assessment Matrix

Listen to a (free) recording of one way to use the Matrix here.

Matrix small

Via CNVC.org:  This document comes in two sizes, they contain the same information.
The large version is on eight pages and the other version is on four pages.

Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2.pdf
Pathways to Liberation Self Assessment Matrix v1 2 large.pdf

I’ve structured much of the tele-conference to reinforce some of the rituals that I use to buttress my NVC practice (& capacity for ‘presence’).  For example, the four stations of Joanna Macy’s spiral (which serves as an outline for the call’s format) closely parallels the Mediate Your Life Practice honed by Ike Lasater and John Kinyon of Mourn, Celebrate, and Learn (MCL) (an NVC mediation process).  Similarly, I’ve adapted their Self-Connection Process: Breath/Body/Need which then routinely gets employed, on our call, in both an abbreviated and a more lengthy form.

One way that I’ve also found it useful to lean into a growing edge is to begin with something simpler, such as Mourn/Celebrate/Learn or Breath/Body/Need (or Inquiry) and then once that practice is under one’s proverbial belt, to expand upon it.  So, for example, one could tack on a repair action-step (along the lines suggested by IPNB guidelines for secure attachment/trust), or even the option of brainstorming possible repairs, at the conclusion of an MCL process.  Similarly, to deepen the process of Breath/Body/Need, one could intermingle some of the skills of Focusing, such as getting a ‘felt sense’ (and/or handle).  Or of utilizing Inner Relationship Focusing’s (IRF) ‘presence language’…

Here’s an example of an intention (read, ritual) that I’m currently engaged with — at least making the attempt to ingrain it a bit more consciously in the coming year (as fodder for thought for your own exploration/integration).  As with any mindfulness practice, it’s a practice of bringing one’s awareness back into focus (so-to-speak) once you’ve noticed that it’s wandered…

NVC & Inner Relationship Focusing

Free Resources For Powerful Change, Focusing Resources Free Library

Chardin, Jean-Siméon – Vegetables for the Soup

Inner Relationship Focusing [PDF] – “Presence Language”

Identified Language vs. Presence Language

Identified Language:

“I am angry.”
“I am terrified.”
“I feel so frustrated by what she did.”

Presence Language:

“I’m sensing something in me is angry.”
“I’m sensing something in me is terrified.”
“I’m sensing something in me feels so frustrated by what she did.”

If you’ve ever encountered the modality of [Inner Relationship] Focusing and wondered how it might complement self-connection/self-empathy, here is link to another video clip of Gina Censiose on Embodying Our Needs (Embodying Our Needs (rather than needs as a ‘story-we’re-telling-ourselves’).

Here’s an appetizer:

“I’m going in with a full quality of presence to myself and saying to whatever is there, ‘yes, I want to hear you’. Whether my mind thinks it’s garbage, it’s worthless, other people won’t like it. I will treasure it, in the moment, right now… And that I think allows for that space to unfold. There is a kind of inner relaxing where things will come up because they’re not being judged as bad or this isn’t acceptable. Doesn’t mean I have to share it with other people. But it means that when I am with other people I will be aware of these parts of myself and holding them lovingly and not projecting them either unconsciously onto other people by saying a sweet OFNR that is not at all true or that I’m trying to be nice by using OFNR — and that is obviously a beautiful learning curve in NVC — at the beginning you try OFNR and you see it doesn’t work (people do a two day intro and say, ‘hey, it didn’t work’) …Well, if the intention or reorientation of your heart hasn’t changed, it’s not changing your language that will change anything in life…It’s not the phrasing, it’s never the phrasing, it’s your intention.” ~ Gina Censoise

For the excerpt above in its fuller/video context, click here: http://www.nvctraining.com/media/GC/TP-key-diffs-200812

DOROTHEUMGiuseppe Costantini Die wärmende Suppe

“If you want to know what the soup smells like,
it’s better not to stick your head in it.”
– Eugene Gendlin

Relatively recently, Shulamit Day Berlevtov gave a presentation in which she recalled a quote from Focusing’s originator, Eugene Gendlin (see above).

It struck a rather idiosyncratic chord in me (this time around, despite having heard it before), serving as a reminder of the value of cultivating presence-of-mind towards a greater capacity for discernment; and how by employing a ritual utilization of presence language, I may have a bit more perspective from time to time (thus not becoming as easily mired in the slippery slope of interpersonal dynamics gone awry).  I see it as holding potential in my quest to ‘mediate-our-lives’ by potentially cultivating what in IRF circles is referred to as ‘self-in-presence’ in order to better mediate our internal conflicts which would then prepare us to engage more constructively with those external conflicts as well.

Self-in-presence: an experiential introduction

by  | Jul 6, 2014 |

A friend has asked me to write about “self-in-presence in plain English.” Self-in-presence is a concept from Inner Relationship Focusing. It refers to a skill or capacity, as well as an experience, that creates the conditions for physically felt inner data-wisdom-information to come into a person’s awareness.

Einstein is quoted as saying, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Whether or not he actually said it, the idea is significant. Inner data can play an imporant role in taking us beyond what we already know and toward new, present-moment information that can be applied to day-to-day living. This enables us to make choices and take actions in life that are more self-connected, rather than following along with what is already known–either from socialized habits and ideas, or from our own thinking about issues and situations.

Because self-in-presence is a pre-requisite for access to this inner data or wisdom, much of the early learning in Inner Relationship Focusing attends to cultivating self-in-presence and its related inner attitudes. In this post, I’ll outline an exercise that will provide an experience of self-in-presence… (continues)


viejos_comiendo_sopaViejos comiendo sopa

FYI ~ Shula has offered access to a free e-book which guides how to incorporate the ‘presence language’ of Inner Relationship Focusing into one’s self-connection process:  Click here to receive a free e-book

Step-by-step guide to transforming stress with kindness

Shulamit Ber Levtov

Posted in Eugene Gendlin, Focusing, Identified v. Presence Language, Inner Relationship Focusing, IRF Resources, Mindfulness, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) - Resources, Quotes, Resources - Shulamit Berlevtov, Self-in-Presence | Tagged , , , , ,

Giraffe Communion Spot

File:Murchison Falls Giraffe.JPG


Image result for nvc focuses on two questions
Institute for Mindfulness

Free NVC Resources

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Street Giraffes – Contact Info.

(Via Wiki: Roland H. The endangered West African giraffe)

Questions?  Please contact us at streetgiraffes@gmail.com

Joining the Call


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