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Archive for the ‘Non-Violent Communication (NVC)’ Category



Interdependence in Action: How to Change Agreements with Care

Nov28

by: on November 28th, 2018 | No Comments »

In 2004, a few days into the first of four week-long retreats of a yearlong program I was co-leading, one participant, who I will call Barbara, informed the program leaders that she was intending to leave the program after the first retreat, because it wasn’t what she had signed up for. To her surprise, we asked her to engage with the whole group about her decision before finalizing it. Barbara, who had lived in many cultures and came from a community-based tradition, quickly recognized the reality that her leaving would have an impact on the whole group, and thus accepted the challenge and invitation to engage in this process.

We then brought the topic to the group. Barbara laid out her needs that were not attended to within the program; other people brought up their needs and the impact of her potentially leaving and not coming back after that retreat. We’d been in process for a while when one woman exclaimed, in utter incredulity: “Wait a minute, but it’s her decision!” We replied: “No, if you take interdependence seriously, it’s not her decision alone to make.” The woman remained stunned, and we continued the process. At the end, we reached shared clarity that what it would take to attend to Barbara’s needs would stretch the program and the group too much, and we all accepted and mourned together the decision we made collectively for Barbara not to come back.

Something similar happened three years later with another participant who was astonished to discover that other people would be affected by him leaving and, at the end of the process, decided to stay. I am still in touch with this person, and I know from him that this process shifted something in terms of his understanding and experience of interdependence. In his case the situation is more pronounced, because he actually shifted his position based on the feedback he received, rather than reaffirming his original intention.

Engaging interdependently with others in the process of making decisions feels to many people like giving up autonomy. The freedom to make whatever decisions we want to make so long as we are not harming others is one of the core attractions of the modern world. I see it as a consolation prize for the loss of community and care.

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Increasing Prospects for Collaboration Even before Starting

Oct9

by: on October 9th, 2018 | Comments Off

Graphic from a collaborative Global Governance Model

I’ve been in the collaboration “business” for about 20 years now, working on all levels, from the most internal inner conflicts, to the most ambitious efforts to create at least a model of what local to global collaboration could look like. Up until the last few years, the bulk of my work has been with individuals learning to engage with self and other in ways that have more empathy, compassion, authenticity, and vulnerability. In recent years, I have been focusing more on leadership and on systemic frameworks as well as tools for group collaboration.

I have found that working in the way that I have is like a collaboration gym: exercising our collaboration muscles allows us to regain capacity where we’ve lost it in the centuries since we’ve been torn apart from land and community to create mostly transactional relationships that are based on negotiating self-interest and little more. I have seen people and groups get much better results after applying what they learn about collaboration in workshops and consulting services I have offered.

Something was missing, though, about why, sometimes, even with all the best collaboration tools, individuals or groups don’t get anywhere with their efforts. The beginning clue came to me when I read The Leaderless Revolution by top-UK-diplomat-turned-accidental-anarchist Carne Ross. Ross’s book, which I found remarkable in many respects, got me started thinking about what, ultimately, makes collaboration work. Most especially, how do groups of individuals come into their own power and collectively manage to improve the conditions of their life. For me, it becomes ever more interesting to understand this because I want to learn how, at least locally, we can challenge the larger systems within which we operate.

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The Power of Privacy: A Review of The Oslo Diaries

Aug6

by: on August 6th, 2018 | 1 Comment »

The signing of the Oslo Accords was, to many, a sign that Israeli-Palestinian relations would improve. Photo by Ohayon Avi

After seeing The Oslo Diaries at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, I felt inspired to start keeping a diary of my own. The Sundance-selected documentary, directed by Mor Loushy and Daniel Sivan, tells the tense and moving story of the secret 1992 peace talks and their tragic failure, using interviews, reenactments, and primary sources to give us a holistic perspective on the historical moment. I recommend you see it too.

 

The film is named quite literally, as much of the film’s dialogue is taken directly from the diaries of the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators of the Oslo Accords. And while their journal entries aren’t in literal conversation, they do provide the inner dialogue of some of the story’s most important characters — and frequently overlap in their subject matter, like two sides of the same coin. Without a doubt, the film holds great emotional power, and even, at one point, brought me to tears. Despite the diaries’ centrality to that power, however, the filmmakers fail to realize their practical and symbolic significance. Ultimately, the film paints a beautiful picture, but misses an opportunity to create something more meaningful, condemning itself to the same fate as the Oslo Accords.


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Matching Resources to Needs: Learning to Receive through Participating in “Money Piles”

Jul18

by: on July 18th, 2018 | 2 Comments »

Embracing the consciousness of togetherness, of caring for the whole, of interdependence, is immensely challenging in cultures that are not based on these values, regardless of where we are positioned on the power map of the world. Most especially, I find that those of us living in modern settings are weak in reclaiming the simple relationship between resources and needs. The concepts of “deserve,” “earn,” and “owe” are so deeply lodged in our way of seeing things that they appear almost natural. That so many in the world routinely don’t have enough for their basic needs appears to many to be unrelated to the global capitalist logic within which we live, which separates resources from needs and allocates, instead, based on concepts and on pre-existing access to resources (money and certain forms of power).

Ever since patriarchy, and especially capitalism, we’ve lived in the horror of no longer being able to receive, without exchange or debt, just because we have a need. We only experience it, and only partially and imperfectly, early in life. This is what I am committed to restoring: a flow from where resources exist to where they are needed, based on wholehearted willingness. I want all of us to be part of this web.

In the rest of this piece, I describe my experience of a process – ‘Financial Co-responsibility’ created by Dominic Barter as part of his pioneering efforts to support system building within communities – that I consider a quantum leap in creating a collective capacity for challenging the hidden assumptions that surround money, and resources more generally, and approximating ever better the matching of resources to needs. This process involves two interconnected circle dynamics, one in which resources are pooled and another in which they are distributed. Here I want to talk mainly about the second dynamic, which Dominic calls ‘the money pile.’ Having now experimented with it a few times over the last couple of years, I am ready to share some of what I have seen and learned.

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Stepping off the Line into Freedom and Interdependence, Part 2: How

May20

by: on May 20th, 2018 | Comments Off

In my last blogpost, I introduced the idea of stepping off the line we all live on, where most of us are constantly trying to get ahead, and described the value I see in aiming to step off the line and what we can gain by doing it: reclaiming our freedom to choose for ourselves, from within, aligned with our deepest needs and values, and reconnecting with our place in the vast web of interdependence. In this piece, I focus on the actual process, the inner and outer spiraling dance of transformation we can engage in, from where we are, to move in that direction, knowing full well we cannot dismantle the line.

Freeing our consciousness

We can start with cleaning up our own consciousness from the effects of our own socialization. This means examining our internal landscape, facing the helplessness we inevitably feel about the existence of the line, and transforming and releasing any judgment we find, of self or other. We can focus on remembering that this problem is not of our choosing; that it existed before any of us were born; that our choices have been scripted by the existence of this line; that even our capacity to resist the line is scripted.


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Stepping off the Line into Freedom and Interdependence, Part One: Why

Apr28

by: on April 28th, 2018 | Comments Off

One of the potent images of our modern, competitive era is that of a long line we are all trying to get ahead in. Our spot in the line determines our access to resources to sustain our bodies, souls, and families. On a recent Facing Privilege call, one caller I will call Jennifer put on the menu for our conversation a question that directly refers to this invisible and pervasive line. She spoke of feeling bad for having enough. She wanted to know: did she get to have enough by pushing others out of the way to get to the head of the line? Was there a way she could both keep her intent to get her own needs met and do so while caring about other people’s needs? Here’s a distillation of the very engaging conversation that involved many in the group: none of us created the line. The line was created long before any of us were born, and has been perfected and refined and intensified for several thousand years. Jennifer and all of us were born into a world in which we are all on this endless line. We don’t choose the line. We only choose how we relate both to our place in the line and to the existence of the line.

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Stepping into Leadership: 
the Magic of Self-Acceptance

Mar16

by: on March 16th, 2018 | Comments Off

A Hassidic story tells of a rabbi Zusha who summons his students on his deathbed and tells them that when he gets to the other side, he won’t be judged for not being a good Moses; he will only be judged for not being a good Zusha.

This story captures, for me, one of the most challenging tasks of supporting people in stepping into and developing their leadership. Time and time again, I have found people comparing themselves to me, or to some other admired leader, and giving up on themselves and the path because they don’t “measure up.” Each time, I come back to the basic truth that the only leader any of us can be is based on who we each are. As we step into leadership, we are called to lead with our strengths and compensate for our weaknesses.

This truth, for me, has been both a relief and an exacting discipline. It requires a profound shift in our relationship with ourselves: from judging to observing ourselves, from minimizing to celebrating our strengths, from criticizing to tenderly accepting our limitations, from motivating ourselves with “shoulds” to connecting with purpose and choice about creating change within ourselves, and from hiding to asking for support regarding our challenges.

Each of these shifts challenges the patriarchal legacy and upbringing that almost all of us have grown up with, transcending shame, fear, and the perpetual doubt that we matter. This approach asserts, boldly and loudly, that we do matter, whoever we are.


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Transcending Barriers while Life Meets Death

Feb20

by: on February 20th, 2018 | Comments Off

In this time, so full of pain and challenge, I was unexpectedly nourished by an email I received from someone who is consciously, purposefully trying to live applied NVC and Conflict Transformation in work and life, currently doing it in Eastern Sri Lanka. I am sharing an abridged version of her words here, with her permission, because I continue to be inspired and transformed repeatedly by her description of an encounter with a strange man dying of a violent act. I bolded the part that is most inspiring to me, in case you want to go straight there.

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On the Receiving End of Hate

Jan24

by: Phoenix Soleil on January 24th, 2018 | 3 Comments »

My cousin and I were texting about Trumps insult towards Haiti. She said: He’s so disrespectful it is really upsetting and I’m trying to emotionally block him out

This was my response:

 

It’s like a blow

I felt kicked in the stomach,

I felt shame

And then I felt shame about feeling shame.

I know this isn’t true so why am I hurt?

the capitalist life

Many of us give this materialistic socioeconomic system our time and energy so we can stay alive.

I play the game

I try to win

Most of all I want to safe,

And then the spiritual life

Most of us can only give a portion our non working hours to the spiritual life

For most of us that amount gets smaller every year

Of course we get entangled in the material way of seeing things

And when the leader and representative of our economic system insults an aspect of ourselves

We feel it

We’re suppose to better than this

Ideals values integrity

The stuff of children movies, 50s sitcoms and comic books

Believing that good will triumph

That hard work and integrity mean something

But this economic system is rigged

What he says hurts me because he’s voicing a shadow in this culture. From a purely economic perspective, many people can and do dismiss Haiti. It’s because of the popularity of a “might makes right” attitudes like his and historical oppression from the west especially from France and America that Haiti is poor. Because that way of thinking is so prevalent. In this country we’re brainwashed to see things from that kind of materialistic point of view. In most disney movies or superhero stories wining at the end is proof that you are magic, right and good. It’s natural that I would feel anger sadness and shame. It’s painful to be around that ideology and to see it in myself.

Deep down we know that the spirit and spirituality is more important than the money. The art and culture of Haiti is special. Every culture is special. It hurts because that’s not the way a lot of people think. Trump is encouraging people’s worse natures. No one thrives in a culture of bullying and materialism. And the people who are economically disadvantaged will suffer the most.

I understand the urge to block out his words. I encourage you to cry it out and feel the pain because pain has more power the more it’s repressed. Please cry, rather than insult Trump. Strive to understand your feelings. Honor the pain, rather than strike out. By condemning we replicate his emotionally stunted way of being in the world. By crying we release. With time, a more evolved response full of intelligence, action and compassion can emerge.

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Phoenix Soleil is an artist, activist and teacher. She is passionate about the intersections of community, emotional intelligence and trauma.She is a partner at LIFT Economy where she helps businesses increase their emotional intelligence and collaboration skills.She has led trainings in communication, racial justice and emotional resiliency for individuals, groups, and organizations such as Google, Kellogg Foundation, UC Berkeley, and Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. Check out her website for upcoming trainings, and more info on her artistic endeavors:phoenixsoleil.com.

#MeToo and Liberation for All

Jan22

by: on January 22nd, 2018 | 2 Comments »

“I want to kiss you all over your smile.”

The poetic beauty struck me even while my entire body was contracting. The man speaking was drunk. I had asked him several times to stop calling me, at least not so late. He was married, with four children, 20 years my senior, and the president of the company I was working for at the time. I was in my late 20s. It was 1984.

Somehow, between the persistence of the phone calls and my repeated attempts to create boundaries while being human and caring, an unlikely friendship developed. Maybe because I was touched by the vulnerability at his core, or inspired by his brilliance and apparent openness. Slowly and painfully I realized, like so many women before and after me, that maintaining the budding friendship would require succumbing to the sexual overtures. I remember the moment of saying straight into his eyes: “Do you really want me to kiss you even if I don’t want to?” I was so shocked by his insistence in the face of my disinterest, that I lost my will; as if being seen solely as an instrument for his pleasure actually made me less of a person in my own right.

A relationship of two years emerged. It had its moments of true intimacy. And it was a difficult and complicated relationship. When the time came to end it, he predictably asked me to resign. I, unpredictably, declined. I loved my job and didn’t want to lose it. He protested, insisting that it would be difficult for him to see me daily after the breakup. I told him he could fire me, and that I would speak about why. To this day, I am astounded by my matter-of-fact courage.

Two years later, I discovered the literature on sexual harassment. My world exploded in understanding of what had happened; one of my own pivotal #MeToo moments. Even then, I knew I was relatively lucky. No ruined career. No watching him continue, with impunity, to victimize others.

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