NVC and Tough Love

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

About swpollack

I’m an independent mediator and collaborative communication coach who can help you to co-create greater ease, connection and mutual understanding in your personal and professional relationships. As a non-traditional specialist, my aim is to get concrete results for my clients in a fraction of the time usually required by traditional therapy and counseling. Please visit my business website: www.mediation-usa.net . The emotion-based coaching work I do is deeply therapeutic, yet I am neither a psychologist nor a psychotherapist. Instead I work with a holistic, empathic process called compassionate, nonviolent communication. I also facilitate ongoing support groups for people who want to learn this organic process of nonjudgmental communication to help build bridges of connection, harmony, collaboration and understanding. For more about my Build Compassionate Relationships meetup group, visit: www.nvccoachmiami.com . I’ve been offering these services to the public since 2000 in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, as well as by phone and through Skype conferencing. . Nonviolent Communication is a process developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It’s based on a very pure, nonjudgmental language of feelings, needs and requests. I’ve found this to be a powerful tool in my mediation work which involves bringing two or more people together despite a painful history of conflict.
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5 Responses to NVC and Tough Love

  1. Ed Phillips says:

    Hi Steve,
    I like how you illuminated some of the possible needs in the teacher and was interested in your guess for what needs the girl was serving by showing up for class at the time she did. Any thoughts there?
    — Ed

    • swpollack says:

      Hello, Ed, and thank you for your thoughtful question. My friend the teacher didn’t speculate as to what needs the student had for a few extra minutes between classes. My guesses cover the gamut. She may have wanted to finish a texting session with a parent or friend or boyfriend. She may have lost track of time while putting on makeup or fixing a problem with her clothing. She might have had a personal/physical issue and needed extra time in the bathroom. Anyone can lose track of time if they’re focused intently on something. Perhaps she was needing some space or rest away from the madding crowd. It’s possible she needed safety from a student(s) who might have been teasing her in that classroom before the bell rang. It’s anyone’s guess, but now that you raise the question, I feel curious to know what was actually going on with her.

  2. Ed Phillips says:

    Thank you. Your guesses broaden my sense of possibility.
    — Ed

  3. Hanne Menezes says:

    Good morning Steve,
    I like what you said about: Take a few moments, pause and think of what is alive in you at that moment. See if you can share it with the other person honestly, respectfully and with compassion. It surely can be used in any situation.

    Thank you for existing and have a great weekend.

    • swpollack says:

      So glad you like that blog entry, Hanne, and thank you so much for expressing your gratitude! I feel so happy reading it, as it fulfills needs for appreciation and contributing to the well-being of others : )

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