Join us on Saturday, February 23rd and Sunday, February 24th as the Calgary Public Library presents the Mind, Body, Spirit Weekend. It is a weekend full of insight, rejuvenation, and inspiration held in the John Dutton Theatre at the Central Library. Over the next four weeks we will interview four of the nine presenters. This week we have Anne Walton, who will be presenting Compassionate Communication on Saturday, February 23rd from 10 - 11 am. If you missed the first interview don't worry you can still see it on our Good Life blog. For more information on our Mind, Body, Spirit Weekend and to register please see our program page.
Compassionate communication is also known as nonviolent communication. Where does the name come from?
Marshall Rosenberg, the man who developed the process, uses the word “nonviolent” in the sense that Gandhi used it, the place where my heart is free of blame, judgment and criticism. My understanding is that the term comes from the Sanskrit word “ahimsa” which can be translated as “nonviolence” however a fuller, more accurate translation would be “the force of love in action”
Compassionate communication is a non-judgmental approach to communication, what makes it unique?
Compassionate Communication focuses on needs and values. It suggests that everything we do is the best we know how to meet our needs in any moment and that needs are the direct cause of our feelings. For example, if I feel upset, it’s not because you said “blah, blah, blah” but because I have a need for consideration, inclusion, mutuality (whatever is important to us in that moment). People describe needs in various ways, one that works for me is that it’s life energy flowing through us. Also, on the surface Compassionate communication is a set of simple and effective communication tools, on a deeper level it’s way of living life more consciously.
Many relationships experience conflict because of a breakdown in communication. What impact can compassionate communication have on one’s relationship and life? How have you seen an impact in your own life?
Compassionate communication gives us the tools to check in with ourselves in any moment and see if what we’re about to do or say will lead to our needs being met. It also gives us tools to make a guess about how another person is right now and to express ourselves in a way that will lead to connection, understanding, and communication. In my own life I’ve noticed such a transformation in me – I’m much more compassionate with myself than I used to be. I’m also much more able to hear what’s going on for another person and have the language to check this out in a way that won’t be intrusive or triggering.
Can you share some practical compassionate communication tips?
Any time we’re triggered or upset, we can pause and take a breath and connect with what’s going on inside us. For example I could say to myself “right now, I’m pretty sad and I would like some understanding for what this situation is like for me”. Just the simple act of taking a deep breath supports us in gaining access to more inner resources (physiologically this facilitates a shift from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex). Then once I’m in a more resourceful state, I might be able to connect with my intention, perhaps ask myself “is what I’m about to say or do, in alignment with my values and likely to lead to what I’m wanting?” Getting to a more resourceful state also enables me to consider what another’s needs are in the moment.
Anne Walton is a Certified Trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communication who finds deep meaning in sharing these tools with others in Canada and the US. Anne’s other passion is doing comedy so she loves generating fun and laughter in her trainings!