13 steps model

This spatial map, adapted from the ’13-step Dance Floor’ by Bridget Belgrave and Gina Lawrence (c) 2003, combines the 3 modes of NVC  and shows how the 4 steps of the NVC model can be applied in a dialogue. Three times four equals 13 in this case, because we have the additional ‘wild card’ for judgmental thoughts, opinions, beliefs etc! I show my NbC version of the steps here, which replaces the ‘Request‘ steps with three flavours of the more general ‘Action’ step.

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The process of communication starts with self-connection (under the mid-line). The first step here may be to hear our own limiting voices: the thoughts, judgments, beliefs and assumptions which keep us ‘in our heads’ and disconnected from the life within. Once we have let go of these, we can connect more deeply with what’s going on underneath. With a neutral observation to refer to, we notice our feelings, connect with the needs associated with them and look for a strategy to meet those needs. If there are several sets of feelings and needs we might go round several times and dip back in and out of the judgments box.

The strategy we choose may be to take an Action to meet our needs which does not involve the other person at all. Or, if we want to communicate, we have a choice whether to listen to the other person first (right hand side) or to express ourselves first (left hand side).

To enter dialogue, we cross over a symbolic line into an ‘outside’ space, where we can alternate between speaking and listening. When we are thrown off balance by the responses we get from the other person, we can at any time return to our ‘inside’ space to re-connect with ourselves. In a workshop context, the line may be represented by a ribbon or other physical marker.  Often the partner in dialogue will be role-played by another student who sits just outside the dance floor facing the first actor. The choice whether to listen rather than speak, or to withdraw behind the ‘curtain’, depends on the amount of Inner Space we have available at any given moment.