The Traps of Nonviolent Communication

How to Use Nonviolent Communication
to Get to the Place You Have Always Wanted to Go
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by Kendra Gettel

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Preface

I have to warn you. This book is not a perfect one and it is written by a less-than-perfect human being. If you are looking for the perfect person to tell you how to get out of your trouble, I am the wrong one.

But if you want to unearth and release your wrong and disabling beliefs about yourself and others, find your true Self and learn to live from your heart, then I am at your side.

Are you haunted by the impression that you have already tried everything?

With motivation and enthusiasm have you read books, been to seminars and have really given your best to communicate in a „nonviolent“ way? Have you been driven by the true intention to improve the relationships in your life – with your partner, your family, your coworkers or your friends. But you still have that feeling of hitting an invisible wall? Perhaps what looked so easy when Marshall Rosenberg was doing it, so convincing during the role plays in workshops and sounded totally clear in those books just isn’t working in your life? At least, not in those relationships that truly matter to you?

If this sounds true to you, you are most likely unnerved, exhausted and doubting yourself. And there may be anger towards the others who unfortunately do not behave like the ideal partners in role plays, workshops and books, but stubbornly keep driving you crazy – and are totally unimpressed by all your efforts. Well, it wouldn’t be surprising if you were about to give up. But surely you have not yet, because deep down inside you hunger far too much for a real change, for a new quality in your relationships which is marked by mutual understanding, consideration and care. You are not willing to settle for what you have. You long to live a joyful and fulfilling life.

I would like to confirm to you that what is driving you is absolutely valid and leading you to the right direction. What you are looking for exists. It is waiting for you, and you will find it. The only thing is: Getting that is a much longer and more challenging path than we first suppose. We think we can do it, if we just visit a few classes and read a couple more books.Or at the latest, after the year-long intensive training, right? Well, sureley we’ll get it after the next 10-day-retreat!

What we are absolutely unaware of (and that might be better to get us started) is that before us lays a long path of transformation which requires all our endurance and willingness to surrender.

So please do not despair if everything seems so difficult. If you are serious about your
goal, you will reach it. All you need is a consistent change within yourself. I say this not to put you off. I merely want to let you know that you have chosen the biggest challenge life has to offer. Therefore it is normal to have the impression that you are supposed to learn an exotic language, far too difficult to even try. But no, it is possible. However, you won’t get anywhere if you only try to be “nonviolent” once in a while in a situation here or there and apart from that continue as before. The trick lies in practising again and again and to let reacting nonviolently become a habit which underlies every moment of your day.
And when you start, this is everything but easy. Our society is dominated by a countless number of thinking and behavior patterns that alienate us from ourselves and each other and that lead to conflicts. This is the beginning of violence. Have you ever had the opportunity to watch a small child and how eagerly it imitates the adults around himself? Isn’t is actually heartbreaking to see, how hard it is trying to be like them? And so have we copied the people around us. By doing so, we have adopted a lot of stuff that is unfortunately in our way when it comes to creating relationships and a satisfying life. We are influenced by such old patterns through and through, and it can’t be any different than that, because we simply lack examples about how it could be different. We didn’t have any back then.

If you have grown up in a place where different groups were fighting each other, then you
have surely been told from a very young age how dangerous members of another group are
and that you have to protect yourself from them. Most likely you have never had the chance
to meet one of “them” without prejudice – and fear. You don’t know anything else and will be just as afraid of that other group as the generations before you. And if you come to the point of being tired of the whole thing and wanting to mediate between the two groups you first have to deal with your own fears. You have to start with overcoming your own, deeply rooted mistrust, and for that to happen you first need to become aware of the fact that you are full of mistrust and anger. You need to acknowledge it. Because of these feelings you probably behave a lot more defensive and uncompromising towards members of that group than you behave towards other humans, and this keeps the vicious circle of mutual rejection alive.

Interestingly enough we often don’t even notice that we are driven by our old patterns and
fears and our effect on others is not exactly heart opening. We think our behavior and what drives it are natural, but this is only because what we have taken in during our early years has taken dominion of our subconscious and rules our life from there. Remember your driving lessons? In the beginning you had to concentrate on every little action and it was pretty exhausting to think of everything and get it right. Then, after a while, things happen without effort. Start the engine, engage a gear, look into the mirror, indicate, go. And while all of this is happening, you can even chat with your passenger! But it does get tricky if you suddenly want to drive an automatic car. In this case you have to unlearn what you have learnt and learn something new. It takes a conscious effort to stop yourself from hitting the non-existent clutch. Again it’s a bit tiring and takes a while until everything goes automatically.

If Nonviolent Communication does not bear the results you have wished for, then some
old programming in your subconscious sabotages your conscious efforts. In this book I show
a number of patterns of how this often happens, and how you can liberate yourself from
them. I call these patterns “traps” or “wolves in a giraffe skin”. They formally look like
Nonviolent Communication, but are driven by our old fears and patterns and therefore do not have the powerful and transformative effect that you are looking for. This leads to the assumption, we were following NVC but it didn’t work.

The phenomena and approaches I describe stand in the context of Nonviolent
Communication (NVC) as presented by Marshall Rosenberg.This does not mean though that
the subconscious mechanisms I talk about only happen to people who use Nonviolent
Communication. On the contrary, they are universal, and every one of us who wants to
transform his or her relationships will be confronted with the same challenges – no matter
which path they choose. Therefore this book may also be interesting for readers who have
not looked into Nonviolent Communication yet or have only little experience with it. Should you be one of these readers you might find the short introduction to NVC at the beginning of the book helpful. It will enable you to understand the references to Nonviolent Communication and will tell you, for example, what is meant by “giraffes” and “wolves”. If you are already familiar with NVC, you can skip the introduction.

The bibliography at the end of the book presents a few books about Nonviolent
Communication. Many other publications about NVC can be found in bookstores or online, if
you want to learn more.

This book is mainly structured according to the description of the so called ”traps of
Nonviolent Communication” which one can fall into along the way. These traps consist of
wolfish behavioral patterns that secretly creep into our giraffe intentions and undermine
them. Sample dialogues will show how to identify the wolves and how to return back to the
power of your heart which gives Nonviolent Communication its power.
My characterization of the masked wolves does not claim to be complete. I explain the
ones I have identified so far – especially because I have unknowingly played these roles
myself, and sometimes even still do today!

I share my present state of development with NVC while still learning. Some ideas you will
agree with, others you will reject, some you will find helpful and some not. Start your own journey of exploration, because only you can find out what works for you.

May our search lead us all into the depth where we have access to the power within us,
out of which we will automatically live nonviolently – our miracle working giraffe heart. By no means does this turn us into doormats – a suspicion often raised concerning nonviolence. Just the opposite, we will discover the power of our true self in order to make a difference in the world. There is not bigger power than ours.

In love. And peace. Because a life of love and peace is simply more fun!

©2014 Kendra Gettel

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