Ever felt that something was going on within yourself, but couldn’t put your finger on it? Ever wanted to discover where tension was coming from or why you kept on arguing while you already forgot what got it all started? Ever had the urge to convince people of what you thought was right, why you thought they were wrong? Ever wanted to make sure that they hear and understand something that is very much alive in you? You might want to refrain from “giving it your all” but rather take a step back and check the connection first.
What’s so important about connection?
Have you ever made a phone call without dialing the right number first?
It might seem a bit absurd, but in real life conversations and situations, it’s exactly the same. To reach people, or to figure out what’s going on with yourself you need connection.
Check the connection
To have a connection you need reception:
If you’re not “in the right place”, connection can be very difficult or even impossible.
… and check it again …
You need to dial the right numbers:
“Push the wrong buttons” and you might not end up where you planned to.
… and again …
You need to speak the right language:
Using the wrong language can have a devastating impact on connection.
… and again …
In a telephone conversation, it’s usually pretty obvious when the connection is lost (except for this next situation, where it can take a while before we realise what’s going on):
In real life conversations and situations, we’re not trained to see the flags for potential problems nor are we trained to keep it in mind as something that is essential to get anything across.
Yelling, getting angry or silence / avoidance are some great flags here!
So connection, now what?
It should be clear by now that connection is pretty important.
Connection in itself is not a solution, but it is a necessary condition to get anywhere together. Taking connection into account also has an effect on your perspective. It helps to see things differently and come up with different solutions and strategies for the challenges you see.
Great, take connection into account, but how?
The ideas I present here are rooted in “nonviolent communication (NVC)”. (see sources below)
NVC teaches that beneath what we do is a layer of feelings (Feelings Inventory) and needs (Needs Inventory | Center for Nonviolent Communication) that are shared by all humans. Shared feelings and needs that can help to (improve our chances to) get connection. To connect with ourselves and to connect with others. To eventually get everyone’s needs met. (please do note that this is not the same as getting what you want)
Marshall Rosenberg ( founder of NVC) believed that if we get everyone’s needs clear and out, the solution will present itself. (More on the assumptions and intentions here)
This might sound simple, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth sometimes. Connection asks that we try to let go of the urge to want to be right, to want to win. To connect before we correct.
Connecting with those needs, especially your own, is not always easy or clear, but it is worth it. Mind you that it’s best to start with your training wheels on. Tackle that big frustration or sadness once you’ve given it some time and practise.
Also note that it’s not always possible to make connection, but being aware of it helps us to “pick our battles”, to save our energy and pick the moment where we think it will be possible and worth it.
NVC works on language, but if it’s not from the heart, your words won’t matter.
So now, everytime you want to get your point across, or you feel like something’s off in a conversation or a situation: don’t shout (harder) “to make sure”, instead: check the connection.
Want to get started? Check out this introduction course (take a paper and pencil and complete the exercises!)
More information and sources can be found on www.cnvc.org
The best way to get the hang of it is through live interaction! Follow a course in your neighbourhood if you are curious or convinced.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Enjoy!