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Taking Responsibility for Our Choices
By Jane Marantz Connor, Ph.D., and Dian Killian, Ph.D.
 

Excerpted from:
Connecting Across Differences 2nd Edition:
Finding Common Ground With Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

Sometimes it’s easy to think we have no choice, that there are things we have to do. When I think in this way, I remind myself of an old saying: "No one can take from you that which is really yours."
Keep reading this article below >>

 
 
New Title: Anger, Guilt and Shame
By Liv Larsson

Now Avaiable in eBook Format in our Online Store

Learn how to make anger, guilt and shame your allies instead of your enemies. Using these practical steps they can become keys to nurturing your inner life and to realizing your dreams.
Learn More or Purchase Now and Save Over 50% >>

 
 
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Connecting Across Differences

Connecting Across Differences, 2nd Edition
by Dr. Dian Killian and
Dr. Jane Marantz Connor

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NVC Quote of the Month

"Anger, depression, guilt, and shame are the product of the thinking
that is at the base of violence on our planet."

 

"NVC enhances inner communication by helping us translate negative internal messages into feelings and needs. Our ability to distinguish our own feelings and needs and to empathize with them can free us from depression."

 
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Responsibility for Our Choices... continued

Your autonomy—your ability to choose—is always yours. In some situations, you may wish that you had more or different choices, but there are always choices. To look at an everyday example, consider the following dialogue:

Tim: Shoot—I have to go to work tomorrow.
Jack: What would happen if you didn’t go to work?
Tim: Well, I’d get fired.
Jack: So, you are choosing to go to work because you want the security of keeping your job?
Tim: Well, yeah, I guess I am.

If you are thinking in terms of reward and punishment, you may feel you have no choice. If you don’t go to work, you will lose your job: that, in effect, can be viewed as a "punishment" (as our society often frames it) or, at least, a consequence. Yet going to work or not is a strategy to meet your own needs. It is these needs—not the demand or threat of retribution—that you’re responding to and acting on when you choose to go to work.

Ultimately, we all have a choice in how we respond even in the most dire circumstances. Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and author of Man's Search for Meaning, observed when in the Nazi concentration camps, for example, that people (even under such extreme and limited conditions) exercised choice in how they dealt with their environment.

They chose, for example, to cooperate or compete with their fellow inmates and made different choices in how they responded to the guards, many of whom were acting in ways that would be considered harsh. Some in the camps, even under the most inhumane of circumstances, managed to act from a spirit of compassion.

It may be challenging to remember the choices we have. If we are anticipating or experiencing needs unmet, and don’t like any of the options we see, it may feel like we have little choice or none at all. By checking in with ourselves about what needs we are meeting—or seeking to meet—by a strategy we take, we can remember what we’re saying "yes" to and take responsibility for our choices, as well as any unmet needs. This is often also the first step in coming up with other strategies that can meet our needs.

Regarding the dialogue about the job, for example, if you are aware of how much you dislike going to your job and the needs it helps you meet—and doesn’t, this can be the first step in exploring other ways to meet the same needs, such as, perhaps, looking for a different job, considering what changes or requests you could make about the current job, working part time, or other strategies.

Regardless of what you choose, it is empowering and even sometimes liberating to take full responsibility for your choices and the needs they meet, and to mourn any needs that are unmet by the strategies you engage in.

Exercise 9: Uncovering Choices

The following exercise will give you practice in translating "have to" statements into statements reflecting choices you have and the needs you may meet in your choices.


Statement


Consequence of

doing the opposite


Translation into a positive choice statement/Needs Met


I have to go home this weekend or my mother will kill me.


If I don’t go home this weekend, my mother will be hurt and disappointed.


I am choosing to go home this weekend because I know it will please my mom and I enjoy that. Needs met for contribution, care, connection.


I have to write a paper this weekend.

 

 

 


I have to go to work.

 

 

 


I have to call my boyfriend.

 

 

 

 

Empathic and Nonempathic Choices

One of the most liberating and creative ideas in NVC is that we have choice in how we hear others and how we respond to them. When a person gives us a message, especially one that we consider critical, there are two choice points:

  • Do we focus on the other person or on ourselves?

  • Do we respond empathically (about feelings and needs) or nonempathically (with judgment, evaluation, and blame)?

When combined, these two choice points lead to four types of possible response:

 
Four Types of Response (Empathic and Nonempathic):


Stimulus:


Focus on:


Nonempathic Response: Blame, judgment, disconnection


Empathic Response: Focus on feelings and needs

Parent says "Your grades are so low I wonder why you are in school if you’re not going to do your best."

Self

Blaming self: "I’m a failure. I don’t deserve to be in school."

Empathizing with self: "I’m really sad and pained, urgently wanting some understanding and support."

Other

Blaming other: "You’re so unfair. You don’t have a clue what I
have to put up with."

Empathizing with other: "Are you upset and worried because you’re wanting to trust that I’m going to be OK with the choices I’m making?"

 

With each conversation we engage in, these choice points occur. Will you respond in a nonlife connecting way, from a place of criticism and blame? Or will you respond with empathy? How will you direct your energy at the moment, toward another or toward yourself?

In the course of a dialogue, this focus of attention will repeatedly shift. At one moment, you may want to empathize with yourself; in the next, you may choose to focus on the person(s) you’re engaging with.

Exercise 10: Four Ways of Responding—Awareness and Choice

Read about the following situation and then complete the four types of possible responses (focus on self versus other, and focus on judgment versus feelings and needs).

At a party, Dan tells a joke about a white man having sex with two "Oriental" women. Peter says, "The correct term is ‘Asian American,’ and I don’t think it's funny! It’s racist and offensive!"

What are four ways Dan could respond in this situation?

Give a sample response for each kind of reply:

(Note: These responses could be actually spoken aloud or just said silently to oneself.)

A.   Blaming self
B.   Blaming other
C.   Empathizing with self
D.   Empathizing with other

(Excerpted from:
Connecting Across Differences 2nd Edition:
Finding Common Ground With Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

By Jane Marantz Connor, Ph.D., and Dian Killian, Ph.D.)

About the Authors:

Jane Marantz Connor, Ph.D., is a certified trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication and founder of the New York Intensive Residential Training in Nonviolent Communication. Jane has enjoyed sharing NVC in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Australia and now concentrates her teaching, coaching, and consulting in the Washington, D.C., area.

Dian Killian, Ph.D., is a certified trainer with the international Center for Nonviolent Communication, founder and director of The Center for Collaborative Communication. Dian has designed and led workshops in the United States, Europe, and Asia for diverse organizations including the New York Open Center, the 92nd Street Y, the New School University, Kripalu, the Insight Meditation Society, Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, New York University, and the U.N. Development Program.

 

Keep learning these vital communication skills with these books and training resources:


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"Four D's of Disconnection: 1. Diagnosis (judgment, analysis, criticism, comparison);
2. Denial of Responsibility;
3. Demand;
4. 'Deserve' oriented language."

 

"How I choose to look at
any situation will greatly affect whether I have the power to change it or make matters worse."

 

Connecting Across Differences

Connecting Across Differences, 2nd Edition
by Dr. Dian Killian and
Dr. Jane Marantz Connor

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Anger, Guilt and Shame... continued

This book can help you make shame, guilt and anger your allies instead of our enemies. Learn how they can become keys to nurturing your inner life and to your dreams. Getting to know these feelings will help you better meet your needs for respect, acceptance, belonging and freedom.

What would be possible if you no longer needed to "play small" in life to avoid anger, shame or guilt?

When you learn to use the ‘Compass of Needs’, decision making becomes easier and your life more empowered. Many of us spend a lot of time and energy trying to avoid anger, shame and guilt. With the help of the user friendly exercises in the book you can make these emotions your friends rather than your enemies.

"Liv’s book grabbed me right away in the chapter, 'The Myth of Domination in Our Everyday Life.' She opened my eyes to the understanding that educating people for peace without offering concrete strategies for changing our thinking about good and evil can very logically lead to more violence. She then unpacks the myths of domination and offers us a clear path for using our domination culture-based thinking to move toward partnership culture."
~ Peggy Smith, certified NVC Trainer and co-founder of the Maine NVC Network.

 

LOOK INSIDE THE BOOK

Anger Guilt Shame Table of Contents Table of Contents
Anger Guilt Shame Foreword Foreword
Anger Guilt Shame Chapter 1 Chapter 1

 

About the Author:

Liv Larsson, is Based in Sweden, is a CNVC-certified trainer and passionate mediator. Liv has worked internationally sharing leadership, communication and mediation skills for the past 20 years. She has written 13 books on NVC , including two for children. Her books, A Helping Hand, Mediation with Nonviolent Communication, as well as Relationships, Freedom without Distance, Belonging without Control, are both very useful for mediators as well as for anyone wanting to live a fuller life. Many of her books have been translated into several other languages. As the mother of a son, handling kids' shame has been an ongoing interest for her over the past few years.
For more information about Liv's trainings: www.friareliv.se/eng

 

 

Anger, Guilt and Shame eBook

Anger, Guilt and
Shame eBook
by Liv Larsson
Product Details
List Price: $22.95
Your Price: $10.95
Save over 50% off list price
through Sept. 30, 2013

eBook: Add to Cart