Nonviolent Communication: Stepping Out of the Victim Role

. November 8, 2018.

With last month’s testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and the mockery and disregard it elicited from the current administration, many women (and men) have been provoked and outraged. For some who have their own experiences of mistreatment and assault, witnessing the proceedings is re-traumatizing. The scenario has created an environment of mistrust and suspicion about the intentions of others.

Most of us can think of times when we wanted our voices to be heard and respected with expected and desired outcomes but what actually transpired was vastly different. It can be painful and infuriating to fail to effectuate social change when the voices of some go unheard, or are misinterpreted or judged unfairly. Our culture doesn’t teach us how to deal with our outrage and despair. Without finding someone to blame, we can end up feeling powerless, and hopeless.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. In Nonviolent Communication we believe no one else can “make us” feel anything without our consent. Someone else can stimulate a response in us, but they are not the cause of our feelings.

Next time you find yourself outraged and infuriated, instead of looking for someone to blame, try turning your attention to what you want to cultivate in your own life. Removing blame from the equation can bring you more self-connection and awareness, and can offer you more peace, agency and choice about how you respond. If you decide to take action by talking with someone, this approach can also increase your chances for success, because instead of feeling blamed, the person may be less defensive and more open to hearing what is important to you.

In Nonviolent Communication, holding people and groups accountable for their words and actions is deeply important, and taking a stand for what we believe in is imperative. If we can do this without blame, we have an opportunity to build bridges, instead of walls.

Have an interpersonal situation you think may benefit from the NVC communication approach? Forward a written explanation of the scenario to nvclisagottlieb@gmail.com

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