Hello and Happy Monday,
It was wonderful to be away and now wonderful to be home. Thank you for breathing with me last week.
Has anyone ever told you, you have a booger hanging out of your nose? A bat in the cave? What about something in your teeth? Toilet paper on your shoe? How about that your behavior is unacceptable? Or maybe that you should stop smoking or that you drink too much? All of these, while on the surface seem different, are very much the same.
Let’s take this from the perspective of nonviolent communication. (Based on Marshall B Rosenberg work)
There are observations and evaluations or judgments in his work, and nonviolent communication is about making observations. Typically we get tangled up in our own “stuff” and the observation is actually a judgment, or better said, “When we combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear criticism.” Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
I’ll give an example of something that used to bother me and how I handled it. Joe would leave a wet sponge at the bottom of the sink. I would see it and say this, “You left the wet sponge in the sink again! It’s so annoying, why can’t you squeeze it and put in the thing on the side? It gets disgusting when you do that!” This is my judgment and evaluation. What I’ve learned is to communicate it this way. “I noticed the sponge wet in the sink just now. When I see that I get frustrated and upset. I feel this way because I have a need to be seen. Would you be willing to put the sponge in the holder when you are done using it?” And what I learned from that is that I actually don’t even care where the sponge is anymore. Once we had a conversation about my unmet need, where the sponge was left didn’t matter. It wasn’t even about the sponge!
How does this relate to having someone tell you you have a booger? We can all agree there are ways to tell someone something difficult. The funny thing is, last week on vacation, I was sitting on a trampoline in the ocean and was talking to two women I had just met. One had a booger hanging out of her nose. I had planned to write this particular blog last week but just didn’t make the time, so for a while repeated in my head, “HEY! you have a booger!!” I did finally tell her, casually like it was no big deal.
There are ways to be compassionate when telling someone of a perceived issue. As uncomfortable as it was to tell a stranger she had a booger, it really was easy. What about the tough conversations? The conversations with close friends or family. Sometimes we avoid for fear of hurting feelings, yet the conversation could lead to growth and healing. I would suggest looking at your own unmet needs before getting into tough conversations with others, just so you don’t bring your own “stuff”.
It may seem small, but the wet sponge in the sink conversation created a lot of healing for me. I became aware of my need to be seen and how it plays out in a lot of different ways. I became aware of that unmet need in a way I hadn’t before. That couldn’t have happened with me yelling at Joe.
If you have had difficult conversations, I’d love to know how they went? Did you have a process? How did it all work out?
Hope to see you live in person this week!!