February 26th, 2007

Missions, cats and rafts

Here is our NVC group’s vision and mission statement:

Northwest Compassionate Communication is a regional non-profit association of people who envision a world in which all needs are met compassionately. Our mission is to contribute to this vision by living and teaching the process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which strengthens the ability of people to connect resolve conflicts.

One thing I read in this statement is “teaching the process of NVC”. In that statement I can see a basis for “quality control” (standards, certification etc) as a strategy to make sure it’s really the NVC process that gets taught and to make it clear to all who is teaching the “real thing”, as opposed to things, such as astrology, crystals, or NVC consciousness. (Note that “quality” and “control” are very counter-NVC notions).

The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) has its own statement. In discussing CNVC’s goals of certification,

One is to ensure that the next generation and succeeding generations are taught NVC in a way that preserves and protects the integrity of the NVC process.

Personally, I do not believe in the existence of “the NVC process” as a static thing. Rather I see the process as itself being in process, with Marshall giving most of the evolution and now some others of us joining along. Something I do not see in this mission statement is evolving the NVC process, so that it more and more fully supports NVC Consciousness. I don’t know whether more than a very few of us in this area are really interested in doing that. If the mission statement referred to “NVC Consciousness” instead of “the NVC process”, maybe we’d be playing a different game.

I notice myself at times getting swept into an old argument habit. Then I’m looking for ways to prove I’m right, to win the debate, and get the prize. When I look at that, what I really want instead is clarity & openness. I want simply to express what game I’m interested in playing in ways others can understand, listen to them express the games they want to play, and see whether there’s a big enough overlap so that we’ll both enjoy playing together. As Miguel Ruiz says in “Mastery of Love”

Let’s imagine that you get a dog and you love cats. You want your dog to behave like a cat, and you try to change the dog because it never says, “Meow.” What are you doing with a dog? Get a cat!

So, maybe what I really want to revisit the mission statement and see who really does want a static NVC process and who wants an evolving one. (See Emergence of NVC.)

I’ll end with a quote from Marshall Rosenberg, taken from this dialog:

Q: What are some frequent mistakes you and others make when trying to use the NVC process?

MBR: One more mistake we make–especially when we’re new to the NVC process–is to think that the Nonviolent Communication process is the goal. I’ve altered a Buddhist parable that relates to this issue. Imagine a beautiful, whole, and sacred place. And imagine that you could really know God when you are in that place. But let’s say that there is a river between you and that place and you’d like to get to that place but you’ve got to get over this river to do it. So you get a raft, and this raft is a real handy tool to get you over the river. Once you’re across the river you can walk the rest of the several miles to this beautiful place. But the Buddhist parable ends by saying that, “One is a fool who continues on to the sacred place carrying the raft on their back.”

Nonviolent Communication is a tool to get me over my cultural training so I can get to the place. It’s not the place itself. If we get addicted to the raft, attached to the raft, it makes it harder to get to the place. People just learning the process of Nonviolent Communication sometimes forget all about the place. If they get too locked into the raft, the process becomes mechanical.

The Nonviolent Communication process is one of the most powerful tools that I’ve found for connecting with people in a way that helps me get to the place where we are connected to the Divine, where what we do toward one another comes out of Divine Energy. That’s the place I want to get to.


3 Responses to “Missions, cats and rafts”

  1. Sandy Fox Says:

    My heart is soaring as I read Marshall’s quote about the consciousness of NVC. I recognize the NVC raft is there to support us to reach the sacred place he calls the Beloved Diving Energy.
    When I read the quote the first time in his book Practical Spiritual, I sang a new song I’ll call the “Sacred YES!” I say YES to living in the place of the sacred place! Thank you Marshall for helping me remember where I want to live. Thank you for giving me a raft when I get lost.
    Either way I am feeling the warmth of the Beloved Divine Energy supporting and lifting me
    and for that I am GRATEFUL!

  2. Emma McCreary Says:

    Heh, I love the dog-cat quote.

    I wonder though – if there is always a tension between the small percentage of people in any group, organization, movement, anything – who want to push the edges, evolve things, take things to the next logical level – and the majority of people who tend to conservation of what already is.

    I wonder if that is a just something about human nature, or a normal curve of gene distribution for the drive for innovation. That the most innovative people will always be in the minority, and how do you deal with that? Clearly, just arguing with the conservatives trying to get them to “get it” tires out the arguer. But isolating yourself amongst people who agree with you doesn’t lead to change. So what is the ideal model?

    I’m excited by Web 2.0 that lets the innovators create the model that everyone else interacts with, so people are being innovative without realizing it. =)

  3. NVC Evolves » Presentation vs transformation Says:

    [...] to recognize and then release habits of coercive thinking and relating. See the Marshall quote in Missions, cats and rafts. (I also became discouraged with the focus I saw on perpetuating a particular stage of development [...]

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