On Being Non-Violent and How to do it

There are a few things being celebrated here in our nation’s capital today: Martin Luther King’s birthday celebration and President Obama’s second inauguration.  It is a special day here and a busy one.  My daughter Kate recited this quote in the car the other day when she said how difficult it was for her to understand most of King’s speeches, except for this one, and she recited it in its entirety.  I cried, of course :

I have been thinking lately about non-violent communication and how very important it is in the divorce process. So, with today being in honor of one of THE non-violence ministers and advocates, I think it is the right time to talk about it. It is also something that I plan to really dive into on the call this week. Have you registered yet? If you haven’t yet, do that through this link. Spots are limited for the live call, so make sure you register early.

As I practice mindfulness everyday in my own life, there come times when I fall. I get so angry, fearful, insecure in my relationship that I begin to attack (a bit passive aggressively, I might add). I throw out words that mean nothing and probably would not sting me but hurt him badly. Even though I am not hitting — something you would easily think of as violent — I am throwing violent word punches. Oh, the damage words can do. You can’t be perfect and that’s okay. But, what you can do, is try and keep moving forward (not backward).

This is why, even though you have decided the relationship is over, taking a class or reminding yourself how to nonviolently communicate can make a world of difference in the divorce process (and beyond). This is one of the things that to me makes the North Star Sessions™ so different and so valuable. I didn’t have this information when I went through my divorce. I had some innate ability sometimes to communicate but I mostly just muddled through and made lots of “violent” mistakes. It took almost two years to work through a settlement. That takes a lot of energy and money. By using some of these tools, you can save yourself thousands (I mean it) of dollars and worry and anxiety and time. And, that goes for work you must do post-divorce too.

To start, here are five nonviolent communication techniques to help you through your next negotiation debacle :

  1. Stop. Breathe. Notice the communication situation. What is really going on here? Step back and look at the situation without judgment. Step back from your own emotion and look at it.
  2. Look at your own judgmental thoughts. What judgment have you been tossing at the other person? Just notice it.
  3. Now that you have separated yourself from the judgmental thoughts and words, express how this conversation has made you feel or how you feel about what it is you are arguing about. For example, instead of saying “I feel like you never really listen to me!” say “I feel alone and misunderstood because when I speak you often talk over me.”
  4. Identify for yourself what you need from the other person. In the example above, the need would be, I need him to listen to what I have to say.
  5. Express that need and ask for what it is you need with your whole heart. For example, “Can you please give me some uninterrupted time to finish and then please tell me what you heard me say?” In this example, one is not feeling like the other is listening and needs some reflection of what she is saying. Often, it is working both ways. Meaning, if one of the two feel like they are not being heard, the other feels the same. Once you begin this process, it changes the dynamic completely. It slows down the conflict and helps you to see one another as beautiful human beings again. To end, after the requester receives what she or he has asked for, thank them for listening, acknowledge what they have done. Appreciate (one of the five A’s of an adult relationship).

Try them out and let me know how it went. Please email me your questions and insights. I would love to hear from you. Just hit reply to this email.

With love and light,


P.S. Let’s keep this work going. I am getting ready to open up a new North Star Sessions group. I am giving a free one hour tele-class on January 24, 2013 from 2pm – 3 pm ET. Click here for the link to register. And, if you miss it, no worries because there will be an encore call on Friday, January 26 (Saturday) and I am recording it. I will be sending more details, so keep watching for more information!

You must click here to register for the call on Thursday.

P.S.S. If you are struggling to find a way through this process and you live in Washington, DC or Maryland, call me to discuss my family mediation services. (202) 587-2772.

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