Choice Points

Beneath courtesy of Newt Bailey & Oren Jay Sofer
The Connection Continuum:
<<< You and me (always moving back and forth) >>>continuum
rage, disconnection and violence          connection, compassion, peace


The No Fault Zone

In the video beneath, Newt Bailey describes NVC’s three dialogic choice-points. And when they may come into play…
1) Self-Empathy/Connection; 2) Honest-Expression; & 3) Empathic-Listening


Two monologues do not make a dialogue.
~ Jeff Daly

Videos — Communication Dojo

Connected Communication – An introduction

Newt Bailey — paraphrasing from video clip above — on communicating based on the work of Marshall Rosenberg’s (NVC) model and when this tool, in our toolbox, may come into (relevance)/play:

“…To a large extent what I’m suggesting to people is that when they are in a stressful conversation or a fight, an argument, anything where they are finding that their communication is not going in a way that they would want, a lot of the time what I’m basically saying to people is, ‘look you can talk however you like, most of the time, you know if it works for you to say whatever you’re saying, but if you’re really clear that if it’s not working for you, or not working for the other person, then shrink down your available options down to just three options.’  That’s essentially what I’m saying to people.


And the practice is in actually, it’s maybe more difficult to shrink down and turn away from all the normal things you ordinarily do, blaming, persuading, criticizing people, making demands, telling stories, telling jokes, all of these other options, many options.

Three [Dialogic] Choices:


To shrink it down to just three options, and the three options are:  How am I doing right now (self-connection)?  How is the other person doing right now (call this empathy)?  And the third choice, just expressing honestly what you got in touch with when you checked in with ‘how am I doing’…  That creates a simplicity basically which  also, strangely enough, creates much more potential for connection between you and the other person which will then lead, more frequently, to some kind of a useful outcome that you both enjoy…”

Three [Dialogic] Choices:


Skill-building exercises from Oren Jay Sofer’s book,

Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication:

When to Speak and When to Listen – Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

By Oren Jay Sofer

Practice: Choice Points

Excerpt: “To practice, choose someone with whom you feel relatively comfortable. This familiarity makes it easier to learn the tool. During a conversation, notice when you choose to speak. If you find yourself talking without having consciously chosen to do so, try stopping and leaving space for the other person to continue. Notice what it’s like to actively choose to say something rather than doing so automatically. Pay particular attention to any urgency or reluctance to speak or any sensations of internal pressure. Use that pressure as a signal to make a more conscious choice.”

Try experimenting with these in subtle, unnoticeable ways during your everyday interactions:

  • Practice paying attention to “choice-points” (p. 44)
  • Practice pausing (p. 44)
  • Practice modulating your pace (p. 48)
  • Exploring relational awareness (p. 52)

From Oren Jay Sofer’s “Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communications


More on listening…

Excerpt from “Say What You Mean” by Oren Jay Sofer:

Learning How to Listen

“…To listen entails a fundamental letting go of self-centeredness. We have to be willing to put down our own thoughts, views, and feelings temporarily to truly listen. It’s a wholehearted, embodied receptivity that lies at the core of both communication and contemplative practice.

Every conversation requires silence. Without it we can’t listen, and no real communication happens. The silence of listening isn’t forced or strained. It’s a natural quiet that arises from interest. When you want to smell a flower, what do you do? You get close, shut your eyes, and inhale slowly. Your mind grows still as you find the aroma. This is perhaps the most powerful way to listen: with full presence.

The wilderness has taught me a lot about how to listen. The ancient steadiness of an old-growth redwood, the stillness of a high mountain lake, or the vibrant music of a stream—all have the power to quiet the mind and still the heart. In the face of such wonders, our mental chatter falls away. What remains is a state of pure listening.

We learn this kind of deep listening in meditation, discovering the stillness of awareness. With practice we can access it in the midst of conversation. The more we learn how to listen, the more available we become for others and for our life in general.

This is just as important for the wonderful moments as it is for the difficult ones. True listening allows us to appreciate the presence of a loved one or to let kindness touch us. This kind of receptive listening can nourish the spirit, heal divisions, and lead to new possibilities.”

Article, in its entirety, can be found here



See also:

Mindful Communication



Dialogue sculpture by Cezary Stulgis (2004), Queen Street, Brisbane

(Courtesy of Kgbo via Wikimedia Commons)