What next after an introductory workshop?

Q. “I’ve completed a weekend introduction to NVC/NbC (also known as a Foundation training). What next?”

A. Workshops are a great way to learn and practise NVC skills and sooner or later I hope you’ll find a further workshop which appeals. Some trainers talk about ‘deepening’ or ‘intermediate’ trainings, but there are no specific graded steps or trajectories to becoming proficient in NVC/NbC. It’s also well worth repeating the foundation training with a different trainer. In the time between workshops there are other ways to expand your understanding and skill levels. Here are the key ones I recommend.

1. Read ‘A Language of Life‘ by Marshall Rosenberg. This short book is the ‘Bible’ of NVCers worldwide; it’s been translated into dozens of languages and has sold over a million copies. Pretty much everything you need to know to become a competent speaker and listener of NVC is in this one book!

2. Start a Gratitude Diary and a Judgments Diary. In the Gratitude Diary, note down each night before you sleep 5 or 6 things you have received that day which you are grateful for – and what needs were met for you by what happened. In the Judgments Diary, note down what it is you say every time you hear yourself passing a judgmental comment or thought, whether about others or yourself. Just the simple act of noticing these two processes in you and the effect they have on your feelings and peace of mind will start to support greater awareness and a shift in consciousness towards non-violence.

Q. “Is that all?!”

A. It’s more than you think! Just noticing your judgments will give you masses of useful information about your unmet needs and about your typical patterns of thought. Starting to keep track of these and balancing them by developing a habit of gratitude will support greater awareness in you and a shift in consciousness towards non-violence.

When you can more easily distinguish your feelings from your thoughts and your needs from your strategies, there’s more to do!

Q. “I’ve done a couple of workshops now and I get all the basic concepts. I just can’t seem to make it work in practice, when I try to use NVC with my partner/ kids/ mother / work colleagues etc.”

A. I hear that you really see the value of these teachings and can’t wait to apply them in the real world! You want to improve communication and connections with the people you interact with, I guess?

My recommendation is to have patience. You are literally trying to speak a foreign language which is new to you and totally unknown to your audience, so don’t be surprised if mutual comprehension is lacking! Don’t try and ‘use’ NVC in the real world yet, especially with your nearest and dearest, except by practising your listening skills!

You have learnt the concepts, now you need to practise in a safe environment where there are no serious consequences if you mess up. I have two suggestions:

1. If there is a practice group in your area, join it. Regular interaction with other NVC learners can be very useful, especially if the group is facilitated by a trainer or more experienced NVCer. You will get into the key habit of ‘check-ins‘, will practise empathic listening and very likely do role plays or other games and exercises.

2. Get an empathy partner. An empathy partner is usually a peer (in this case a fellow beginner) who can you practise the key skills of empathic listening and honest self-expression with on a regular basis. I suggest one hour once a week which you divide 50:50 into listening and speaking, so you each get a turn. You can agree to just listen or to listen and then reflect back the feelings and needs you hear. Make a commitment to this weekly time and it will become a rock and a safe place for you to return to for grounding, learning and very likely healing as well.