Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Observing Without Evaluating – NVC Week 3

So, if you’re just tuning in, my kids and I are working through Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication, and  Lucy Leu’s companion Workbook . We’re doing this as part of our homeschool curriculum and we welcome your thoughts and companionship on our journey.

We’re taking it week by week, and doing one chapter/workbook assignment per week. This is actually week 4 of our journey, because chapter three has been particularly challenging, so I decided to work through this chapter for another week. After nearly 2 weeks on it, I think I have a better understanding of the concepts and how to put them into practice.

If you’re not familiar with the book, chapter three deals with separating ‘observation’ from ‘evaluation. There are a couple of poems in this chapter that have helped me, and especially the kids grasp the difference between the two. Working with kids, obviously, the text of this book is going to fly right over their heads (evaluation). I’ve had to read and then figure out how to ‘translate’ what I am reading into kid-speak. That’s been challenging, but good in a way because in order to explain it to them, I have to understand it. We’ve worked over the last couple of weeks to put this into practice, but also to have practice sessions where we’re role-playing and trying to illustrate and identify the difference between the two ideas (observation).

One of the parts in this chapter that I appreciated was in the NVC in Action dialogue on pages 32 & 33. Rosenberg says,

“… what keeps me in the struggle are the close connections to other people that happen when I do stay in touch with the process.”

It’s comforting to know that even the man with the vision struggles and sometimes even ‘loses touch’ with the ideals he promotes; I think that we all do that at times and it’s hard to admit. Gold star for honesty. I did the exercises on page 34 and was in agreement with the author 80% of the time. As I said, this chapter has been challenging for me for some reason, but I think I am seeing enough progress for myself to move on.

In the workbook, the exercises for Chapter Three begin on page 73. Some of the questions include:

Explain the difference between ‘static language’ and ‘process language’.

MBR prefers to avoid even positive or neutral labels of people (for example, ‘a responsible child’, ‘a cook’, ‘a pretty blonde’). Why?

What is the first component of NVC?

Practice exercises include:

Write down 3 observations about yourself. Write down 3 evaluations about yourself.

Next time you’re waiting in line or among people in a crowd, take five minutes to look at the people around you. What thoughts do you discover on your mind? Are they observations or evaluations? What’s the proportion of observations to evaluations?

I thought that these were interesting assignments. It really brought to the fore how much of my inner dialogue is judgemental – both positively and negatively. The quote on our chalkboard in the school room right now is from  Gautama Buddha, “Mind is everything. We become what we think.” I am thinking that I need to work on my mind.

Overall, I am glad that we spent another week on this chapter. It was worth it to spend the extra time on it. We are, as always, a work in progress, but I think that we’re moving forward and that makes me happy.

Hope you have a great weekend!



(Disclaimer: This is not a certified or ‘official’ NVC anything. This is my personal journey through Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication, and Lucy Leu’s NVC Companion Workbook. I am NOT an expert, nor am I particularly skilled in this process. Please use/follow/apply with those things in mind. When in doubt, please disregard my commentary and refer to the book or workbook. I make no money off of this exercise, nor is any copyright infringement meant by posting a sampling of the questions from the workbook. For best results, I  strongly recommend that you purchase the book and workbook for yourself and go through them in their entirety at your leisure.)


One response

  1. I love that you are teaching your children NVC! As a mediator and conflict coach, I use this model in my practice, and I can only imagine a world where everyone knows how to speak from the heart and listen with an empathetic presence. You are contributing to my dream!

    April 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm

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