Wish You Could Hit Rewind on a Conversation?

by | Feb 21, 2017 | Nonviolent Communication

image asset

After delivering a talk recently about Letting Go of Judgment (watch it here), an audience member approached me to share the impact that my talk had on him. He resonated with the content and wanted to share his own efforts to “revoke dualism” in his life.

Still in teaching mode, I suggested that using the word “revoke” might reinforce the very dualism he was trying to “revoke” and invited him to consider how he might instead both transcend and include dualism. He looked slightly taken aback, but politely thanked me for my suggestion.

I instantly regretted my response. 

The energy in our interaction shifted; he graciously withdrew and moved over to the refreshment table.

Here he was, sharing his enthusiasm and wanting to connect with me as a human being, and I responded by correcting and teaching him.

Uninvited, no less.

Unsolicited advice can have a jarring impact on the flow of conversation.

I’ve made this mistake before ~

… Like the time when my daughter told me about trouble she was having with friends, and instead of first deeply listening and joining her, I began analyzing and coaching her on what to do next.

… Or, the time when someone wanted to challenge the principles of nonviolence in an intellectual discussion, and I took the bait instead of first getting more present and reflecting what was deeply important back to him first.

I am often in such a hurry to teach, strategize, fix, coach and educate that I sometimes forget the sheer power and simple beauty of empathic human relationships.

These are the moments when I wish I could hit the pause button, rewind and get an instant do-over.

If I could have a do-over, I would slow my self way down.

  • I would choose to connect as two human beings first, and would offer my thoughts, analysis and insights only if invited to do so.

  • I would remember the importance of leading with connection and empathy.

  • I would get more present in that moment, and savor the energy, ideas and enthusiasm.

  • I would notice and take in the resonance and engagement being shared, and I would join the other person where they are.

  • I would practice getting back to power-with by intentionally switching out of “teacher” mode (or mommy mode!) and into “human being” mode more quickly.

I want my default responses to be humanizing, connecting, gentler.

Thinking back to the stranger who wanted to connect, I can imagine saying all sorts of things that would have felt better to me –

“It’s so lovely to meet a fellow journeyer on this path …” 

“I so enjoy your feedback and engagement with this content …”

“Thank you so much for sharing with me the impact that my talk today had on you …”

“I love seeing and hearing about the various connections you are making as a result of my talk …”

“I also struggle with my relationship with dualism and finding a way for it to fit …”

Marshall Rosenberg used to quip: “Connection before correction; empathy before education.”

This week, I am renewing my intention and my practice:

Slow Down. Get Present. Connect. Lead first with Empathic Connection. What one small step could renew your own practice?

1 Comment

  1. Sally Anne Smith

    I want to thank you for putting LETTING GO of JUDGEMENT out for us to view. I have watched it several times this week. I think I am really in need of remembering! I needed your idea that it is not just one political party or group, but the collective for all people that needs to be addressed.Even though I listened attentively…. by the time my day was up yesterday substituting teaching in a sixth grade middle school I was so aware of my anger at how the day’s challenges left me, totally at my wits end. I had the opportunity to by chance be asked by the acting building principal when I left, how my day went.
    I described how frustrated I was, blunt, angry, feeling taken advantage of… yes, indeed I let him have it! The anger followed me home. So, I am trying to sit with this anger, be aware of it, and replay in my head how I wish I would have responded to his very simple question. I am shocked at how the anger came out. I continue to wonder what needs are unmet in my childhood. I have so much to practice and learn and your talks and your writing have helped me immensely! Thank you, Yvette


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *