By Elizabeth Doshi

On July 13-16 Ashwood faculty took part in the introductory training for  Nonviolent Communication, through the University of Maine/Hutchinson Center. This online course was taught by Peggy Smith, cofounder of the Maine NVC Network and a certified trainer with the Center For Nonviolent Communication.

I came away from this course with the conviction that, in every situation, this way of connecting with others has the potential of reconfiguring any unhealthy power structures that exist. It is profoundly anti-oppression, and when practiced regularly puts every being on equal footing, acknowledging feelings and the needs that underlie them. The faculty agreed at the end of the week of training that we hope to continue this work together, applying it to our work as colleagues, with students in the classroom and on the playground, with parents, and with the larger community.

Founded by Marshall Rosenberg, NVC is a process that helps people cultivate moment to moment awareness of what is alive in themselves and others, and to act in ways that contribute to life. It is designed to help us develop our ability to respond in a beneficial way and to inspire compassion. NVC is based on a practice of thinking that reinforces our ability to retain our heart-centered qualities. It is our commitment to reconsider the way we express ourselves and how we listen to others.

The process has two parts: expressing ourselves authentically and listening with empathy. These two actions take place in four steps:

  • Observing facts without evaluation, interpretation or judgement
  • Expressing feelings
  • Expressing the needs behind those feelings
  • Formulating clear and concrete requests for actions

Although it is taught in reference to a concrete model and designed as a communication process, NVC is indeed much more than a process or a language: it is a way of being more compassionate and of living more compassionately in relationship to ourselves and others. It is a permanent invitation to focus our attention where we have the greatest chance of finding what we are seeking, connection. The objective of NVC is to remind us of the profound value of human interactions and help us live with that awareness.

Elizabeth Doshi, Class Teacher