A teacher friend recently told me about a very bright student in her class who’d been reporting to class a minute or two late. This tardiness had happened a few times. The teacher reminded the student each time of the rule stating all students must be in their seat by the moment the bell rings.
The next time the student showed up nearly on time, but wasn’t in her seat when the bell rang. So the teacher decided it was time for tough love. She sent the tardy student to detention, hoping to teach her a lesson she’d remember for a long time.
Hearing of this, I felt some compassion for both the teacher and student.
I wished the student could have heard the earlier warnings as slightly more urgent. If she had, she could have made it to class just a few moments earlier with no problem.
I wished the teacher could have shared with the student in an NVC way:
1) How irritated she felt when her student showed up late repeatedly.
2) How she needed respect from her of the teacher’s time and her classmates’ time
3) How she needed understanding of the value of time for building everyone’s education
4) How she wanted support from all students in the class to help build a sense of order and reliability
Do you think a very bright young girl would have shown up on time if all the above had been shared with her? Especially if it were shared in a kind, respectful tone of voice? My guess is she would have. Maybe even gladly.
This is the power of NVC. It can help people understand one another naturally, through mutual sharing of what is going on with them.
Next time you’re in a position to punish someone, I hope you’ll take a few moments to pause. Think of what is alive in you at that moment. See if you can share it with the person you’re about to punish. Share it honestly, but respectfully and with compassion.
Wouldn’t you have loved it if your teachers had taken that approach with you?
Note: NVC is an abbreviation for Nonviolent Communication, a fluid, ever-evolving language process created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is also referred to as Compassionate Communication. It’s based on universal human feelings and needs, the giving of empathy and making humble requests rather than demands. For more on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit www.mediation-usa.net
In the Miami area? You can attend Steve’s NVC Support Group by visiting www.nvccoachmiami.com