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I Failed to Practice Nonviolent Communication


Every Saturday, I hike with fellow friends and hikers. I started the group right at the peak of pandemic. It became my family’s routine to hike every week for about 4 to 5 hours each outing. When I felt safe, I invited other friends to join us. Soon, while keeping the group small to meet CDC guidelines, I expanded our group to 6 people, then to 8, and now we are more than sixteen people strong in our small hiking group.

We usually meet around 10 a.m. in the parking lot of a designated hike route. Then, we start our hiking no later than 10:30 a.m. In every meeting, I pick a friend to chat with about current issues, or something that matters to us that week. Since many of us are from Iran and speak Farsi, we usually end up talking about Iran and its new revolution

goltune nonviolent communicationIn one of the meetings I was explaining how many “unkind” words were being spoken among different Iranian groups. “I wish there was a way to communicate kinder,” I said one time.

“I think there is,” one of the fellow hikers replied. For the good portion of the rest of the hike, he kept talking about a book that he loved: Nonviolent Communication, or NVC for short. “I’ve read somewhere that you ought to read books you love a few times,’ he continued. “I think I have read this book at least eight times. I have a friend who told me that people in his department at Microsoft are required to read this book.” Since we live in the Microsoft and Amazon territory, his comments made sense. 

Given my background of LOVING books, I ordered Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, via Amazon Prime, as soon as I had a signal.  I unwrapped the box the next day. I was so delighted to hold the bright book with a cartoonish cover in my hands. 

On the back cover, you read: 

What is Violent Communication? 

non-violent filmmaking, peace, compassionIf “violent” means acting in ways that result in hurt or harm, then much of how we communicate such as judging others, bullying, having racial bias, blaming, finger-pointing, discriminating, criticizing others or ourselves, name-calling etc., could indeed be called violent communication. 

What is Nonviolent Communication? 

Nonviolent Communication is the integration of four things: 

  • Consciousness: a set of principles that support living a life of compassion, collaboration, courage, and authenticity
  • Language: understanding how worlds contribute to connection or distance 
  • Communication: knowing how to ask for what we want, how to hear others even in disagreement, and how to move forward with a solution that works for all 
  • Means of influence: sharing “power with others” rather than using “power over others” 

Nonviolent Communication serves our desire to do three things: 

  • Increase our ability to live with choice, meaning, and connection 
  • Connect empathically with self and others to have more satisfying relationships 
  • Share resources so everyone is able to benefit

goltune nonviolent communication  I started reading the book immediately. With the intention of reading the book slowly, taking my time to understand, and trying to contemplate its meetings, I couldn’t believe how quickly I got through chapter one: “Giving From the Heart”

I learn new subjects more easily when I write and take notes. So, I wrote in the margins of chapter one, and drafted more thoughts at the end of the same chapter. 

One theme repeated throughout the book, that is explained diligently in chapter one, is the process of NVC (Nonviolent Communication) and how it works. In this book, you learn that the first course of action is to observe things without trying to judge.

The next course is to see whether observing an action has created feelings for you. Then, you need to examine those feelings and question whether they create a desire for you to act. And if so, you need to communicate your “needs” as a request following in the most civil and nonviolent manner you can find. If you can master the process, you’ll reach a greater level of empathy, collaboration, authenticity, and freedom. 

How did I fail?

I didn’t need to wait too long to test my learning. I was expecting Women’s Khutbah Book to arrive from Oxford University Press for Peacemindedly, the podcast I manage. In order to create enthusiasm for episodes I usually create a TikTok clip to record myself opening the box and explaining its content. Without looking at the label and really not knowing that the box was addressed to me, my husband opened the box. He, literally speaking, ruined the promotion I was planning. 

Kindness diary

sara kindness diary, someone paid our order at starbucksI got back home after picking up my daughter from school and found the open box on my home office desk. Without wasting a second, I ran into my husband’s home office upstairs. I found the door open. I found him on his computer. And I started screaming. “You never look at the label ….You think all the boxes that come in this house are yours; you ruined my TikTok clip;  … You … are the worst human being,” and so forth and so on. I think I ranted for about fifteen minutes, bickering and angry.  

A few hours later, I succumbed to shame and embarrassment. I couldn’t believe myself. Why did I get so upset? Why did I rant? What happened?

After I got a hold of myself, I decided to record another episode for my Kindness Diary. There, I recorded “Be Kind to Your Husband When He Opens Your Amazon Box and Ruins Your TikTok Video.” 

The next day, when I got back to Nonviolent Communication to read chapter two, I knew I had a very long way to go until I could even begin to comprehend NVC methods, let alone use them!  


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