This mini-intensive emerges from years of exploration and a deep conviction in the possibility of a creative integration of the following:
- A commitment to the principles and practices of NVC which are designed to support us in relating to self and others from within our shared human needs;
- An understanding of the impact of thousands of years of living in societies where access to resources is based on already having resources rather than on needs;
- An intention to support all of us who want to restore our individual and collective capacity to engage with each other and share resources based on needs, willingness, and capacity.
The result is an understanding that every aspect of learning NVC, integrating it, applying it within our lives, and sharing it with others is influenced by our own and others’ social location: what we observe and how we name it; what feelings are more or less likely to arise in us in different situations; what needs we become aware of and prioritize; what we feel able to ask for or how we respond to others’ requests; where empathy and care flow more or less easily; and much more.
The aim of this course, then, is to invite those of us who have been learning, integrating, and applying NVC for some time, especially those already sharing NVC with others, to a passionate exploration of what we need to do so that everyone has the most possibility of engaging with self and others in ways that align with the vision of liberation for all.
The course is comprised of four 90-min sessions held on four consecutive days. The outline below is loose and may shift to adapt to needs, experiences, and situations as they arise in the course of our time together. The plan is for the basic presentation each day to be held by Miki and for Menaka and Aurélia to participate in interactions, track and support what is unfolding, and present their own work within the overall framework of the course.
Monday: Power and Liberation: Caring for All of Life Using NVC
Since 2005, when Miki was working with her late sister Inbal, she has been aiming to find a path of integration so that the understanding of how deeply differences in social location affect everything about our lives can be described staying as close as possible to observations and to needs and as far away as possible from right/wrong language. This session focuses on understanding power through the lens Miki and Inbal developed, the impacts of social location on the potential for learning, integrating, applying, and sharing NVC, and the vision of liberation for all based on unconditional, universal solidarity that is at the heart of this approach.
Tuesday: What’s Power Got to Do with Observations, Feelings, Needs, and Requests?
One of the deepest premises we lean on when engaging with NVC is that all human beings have the same basic needs. Learning NVC and applying it makes it possible to put on the table all relevant needs and experiences and move forward in a way that works for all. The vision here is radical, simple, and exciting. And yet almost everyone socialized into patriarchal societies finds it challenging to learn and apply NVC. Such challenges show repeating patterns based on social location. For example, it’s consistently challenging for women from impoverished communities in the global South to say “no,” which makes it difficult to engage in requests with authenticity and strength. As another example, it’s consistently challenging for men from affluent contexts in the global North to express themselves with vulnerability, which makes it more difficult for others to fully see their humanity. This session is designed to focus on as many examples as we can explore together using the Pathways to Liberation with Power/Not Power additions to the toolcreated by Jacob Gotwals, Jack Lehman, Jim Manske, and Jori Manske. The goal is to support all of us in knowing better how to support people from many backgrounds in being able to learn and apply NVC in their contexts.
Wednesday: Staying within Capacity: Practices for Attending to Power Differences
Even as we aim to care for all, we are all too likely to reproduce what is already happening in our patriarchal systems, especially since the acceleration of capitalism: the needs of some people are consistently left out, the impacts on the same people are invisible, their perspectives and concerns remain unknown, their ideas and creativity remain untapped, and their capacity limits are overridden. This tragic state of affairs is sustained through formal structures, informal habits of those with more access to resources, and, most painfully, the internalization of messages and habits within those with less access to resources. If what we are seeking in living and applying NVC is to create the conditions for all needs and experiences to be on the table, we will need a conscious and active practice regardless of our own social location. This session focuses on finding a way to do it that is within our own and others’ capacity and mourning the rest as we focus on vision and release attachment to outcome. This is key to applying NVC across power differences without recreating right/wrong, should thinking. It means reducing all inner and outer barriers towards speaking truth with total care for others’ capacity to receive it, as well as receiving others’ truth-telling with total care for our own capacity. Both are lifetime commitments to liberation.
Thursday: Talking about Power and Privilege: Matching Our Approach to the Purpose at Hand
In this final session of the course, we take up the complex and fraught topic of how to talk about power, privilege, and liberation in different contexts and for different purposes. Learning to do this, which none of us have done sufficiently, invites us into deep humility. This is where challenges arise even within the NVC community: despite our shared commitment to the practice of NVC, the CNVC Certified Trainer group has been in struggle about these topics for several long years. A potential integration we envision is to consider whether and how much to explicitly talk about power and privilege based on context and purpose. For example, in some contexts, including within some NVC communities, talking about power and privilege can be alienating. In such contexts, creating the conditions for everyone’s needs to be on the table may mean not mentioning the specific words and terms while aiming to attend to the experiential gaps using frames and practices that are less alienating. In some contexts, anything short of mentioning and anchoring an understanding of power and privilege is what would be alienating. Our hope for this part of the journey is to walk a few steps together towards learning how to discern how to engage with these vast topics as we learn, integrate, apply, and share the revolutionary practice of NVC.