lifestyle for the modern yogi
marshall rosenberg
by william mark stierle

a pioneer of life-serving communication

Emotional safety and expression, the freedom to say anything you want without feeling like you are walking on eggshells, these are considered unattainable luxuries by a vast percentage of our population. So many people struggle with feelings of fear, sadness, loneliness and helplessness in their relationships with others. They are looking for a way to connect but don’t know how to overcome the violent communication patterns that have been passed down to them by their parents and their culture.
Inside Yogi Times
Los Angeles Edition
February 2005
issue 29
editor's word

cover story
Sacred Unions

health
Healthy yogi
Stop and Breathe
yogi lifestyle
Yogi Traveler
To Indian with Love
Yogi's OM
Moroccan Moderne
Yogi Yummies
Valentine
Chocolate Cupcakes

yoga
Power of Yoga
Mending
My Broken Heart
community
Community Feel
Extending Hope
Across The Sea
for the mind
Indian Philosophy Corner
Lord Krishna
for the soul
Special Guest Interview
Marshall Rosenberg
The communication technique of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg provides people with a way to communicate safely with intimacy, peace and a greater level of connection. Dr. Rosenberg has introduced his communication technique as a mediation technique to provide peace in over two dozen countries to educators, students, parents, managers, mental health and heath care providers, military officers, peace activists, lawyers, prisoners, police and clergy. Nonviolent Communication provides a powerful tool for resolving differences at personal, professional, and political levels.
I spoke with Dr. Rosenberg in Switzerland, and asked him about how NVC can help communicate to transform our most intimate partnership into a Sacred Union.

when i can get both sides to hear each other’s needs, it is amazing how conflicts seem to solve themselves.

YT: Many people struggle with criticism and judgment from those closest to them. How does NVC help us to deal with criticism from others?
MR: If you use our technique you can hear no criticism; all you can hear your partner saying is, “Please!” When you hear the “please” behind what used to sound like a criticism, you can see it as an opportunity to nurture another person.


MR: Even more specific, this technique is based on an assumption that all criticism, judgment, diagnosis… all of this ugly stuff is a tragic expression of an unmet need.

YT: How did this language of judgment and criticism get started?
MR: For about the last 8,000 years we have been educated in a language that is not very effective in enjoying any kind of relationship. Especially a close intimate relationship, because when people are not getting needs met, the best way they know to express it is by saying, “The problem with you is that you are too….” And that is a suicidal way of saying “Hey, a need of mine is not being met.” So NVC translates any criticism into an unmet need. And no matter what the other person says, all you hear is the unmet need they are trying to communicate. Then, what would have sounded like a criticism is really a gift.

YT: So people are not listening to the unmet needs behind what their partner is saying?
MR: Not only are they not listening, we have not been conscious of it. Finding the need gives us as human beings a chance to do what we enjoy doing, contributing to the well-being of people. But the expression of the language is usually in the form of a criticism, analysis or diagnosis or something that implies some kind of pathology. That makes the divorce lawyers and the makers of Prozac wealthy.

YT: Does the language then guarantee conflict escalation?
MR: Take a look at the divorce rate, more than half of the people are not able to stay with it; and even the ones that are staying with it are not really enjoying it fully. I ask couples that I work with, “What is the nature of your intimacy?” and very few of them have an answer to that question.

YT: How do we get to the truth in a sacred union?
MR: I like what my partner says to me, she says, “What are you afraid to tell me?” The questions and messages that are the hardest to express are the really important ones to know. In a way it is a gift to answer that question. The most intimate things are the most important to us and are the things we need to learn how to express well. If we regularly say to each other in partnership, “What are you afraid to tell me?” that opens us up to greater closeness. And to put it in needs language, “Which need of ours is not being met?”

YT: Is NVC used just when things are not going well?
MR: No, it is important to balance it out with celebration. By focusing and balancing what contribution the other partner has given to us, “What needs of ours are being met.” Just as we focus on expressing our pain, it is important to take the time to celebrate how our needs are being met. Not just complements and praise, but telling the partner exactly what
they did and how it enriched our lives. So those two things: saying the scary things, how our needs have not been met and celebrating needs met. What has the other person done to contribute to meeting our needs?

YT: That scary question from your partner will send a shutter down the spine of our readers.
MR: I hate that question. Yet, I love it when she asks it, because it requires me to look inside and really say, “Hey, what needs of mine are not being met to my satisfaction in the relationship?”

YT: So the truth steps forward in one’s partnership?
MR: The truth is the hardest to express and is the most important. And we may have some strong needs that for whatever reason, culturally or whatever it is not easy to ask for.

YT: In a sacred relationship, how quickly can conflicts be resolved?
MR: When I can get both sides to hear each other’s needs it is amazing how conflicts seem to solve themselves. The sacred connection that occurs because I believe that needs are life in action within us. And I think life is divine energy. So needs are the best way I know of connecting to the divine in all of us; that is why it has so much power.For more of the Yogi Times interview with Marshall Rosenberg, visit yogitimes.comWilliam Stierle, 310 433-8380 or williamstierle.com for books about NVC see cnvc.org

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