In his book, Words That Work In Business, Ike Lasater suggests that you should practice nonviolent communication silently with your coworkers as a first step to introduce the concept into your middle cycle.
When you realize you may have been violent when communicating with a coworker, reformulate your sentence internally while following the NVC framework. You can also form an internal inquiry about the other using the framework, which will help you shift your own energy to something more constructive.
Think back to your most recent interaction with someone, however brief. What need might that person have been trying to meet with their words or actions?
— Ike Lasater, Words That Work In Business
Switching between self and silent NVC is a good way to practice and learn to be more conscious of yourself and others without placing you in a spot that could make you feel uncomfortable. For example, it would probably come off odd if you were speaking out loud in the middle of a meeting with an extremely long and detailed sentence about your feelings.
The next step for improving your NVC skills is to start celebrating progress and mourning mistakes. For the former you need to recognize that needs were met, for the latter you should acknowledge that needs weren’t met and work on understanding why and how you should be able to change it. Practicing silent learning cycles will help you gain confidence and move towards verbalizing NVC.
1.) Choose one recent situation where you would like to have acted differently. Take a moment to mourn, and consider how you would like to have acted.
2.) Think of something that happened at work recently, however small, that you liked. How might you be able to celebrate it with your coworkers?
— Ike Lasater, Words That Work in Business
Practicing Out Loud
Choose your cycles. Ike’s advice is to start trying NVC with your outermost cycle. By practicing with strangers you will meet once, you will feel less ashamed of formulating your feelings in a way that feels unnatural, and they will be less likely to notice change or discomfort since they don’t know you. This practice will give you confidence to use this new communication tool with people you know.
Get agreement. Ike recommends then to shift to the innermost cycle as those people are more likely to be empathetic towards you. Nonetheless, he recommends to first get their agreement to make sure that you have a space to explain to them what you are planning on doing, and that they will let you know if they get uncomfortable with the practice.
Whom in your inner circle might you make a practice agreement with? Practice how you might phrase your request.
— Ike Lasater, Words That Work In Business
To move to the middle cycle, especially with coworkers, it is important to get a clear agreement from them before practicing. Agree together on the distinction between a request and a demand. If any of you are agreeing to a request in order to avoid punishment or criticism, then it’s a demand.
I have been practicing nonviolent communication with my outermost and innermost cycles for a couple months. I am certain that it has helped me bring more peace in my relationships. I am calmer and more conscious of my own feelings, and I understand my own triggers better.
I recently started to practice silent NVC at work and was able to spot several situations in which I could have used a different language or approach to my communication with teammates. I haven’t dared yet to put it in practice nor to make a formal agreement with any of my coworkers, but I have set it as an objective for next month.
To help me improve my NVC skills, I have also joined a local reading group organized through Facebook. I regularly meet with other people that are going through the same challenges, and it has been very helpful to gain confidence and learn these skills faster.
Tell Your Own Success Story
Consider Aesop’s fable of the North Wind and the Sun:
One day, the Wind and the Sun were arguing over who was stronger. As a traveller came down the road, they decided to settle the matter by seeing who could be the first to remove the man’s jacket.
The Wind blew as hard as it could, using powerful gusts of air to lift the coat off his back. Alas, the man simply hunched over and tightened the coat up with both hands.
The Sun then took its turn. Slowly, it began to shine ray after ray of gentle sunlight. The traveller, getting warm on his journey, removed his coat with a smile, admiring the beautiful weather.
Even in the mid-6th century BCE, humans had learned that approaching a request with kindness and warmth yields better results than force. However, life’s stresses and the need to get things done quickly often get in the way of this approach. The next time you find yourself gearing up for an uncomfortable chat with your coworker, take a breath, be kind to yourself, and try a nonviolent approach to the conversation.
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