Sunday, June 30, 2013

NVC Niff Clotes: Chapter Six: Requesting That Which Would Enrich Life

The fourth component of NVC concerns making requests. Sometimes we just want to empathize, other times we have an objective. We must negotiate a win-win solution, and to do that we must be able to express our desires clearly.
"Positive action language" that says specifically what we want is less likely to confuse others and inspire resistance. So ask for what you want, don't dwell on what you don't want or give vague hints. Be concrete. Vague requests not only confuse the other person, they may mask our own thoughts from us. A request that sounds sort of reasonable in abstract terms, may reveal itself as unreasonable when we force ourselves to say what we really want, e.g. "Show responsibility" = "Do what I say."
"Depression is the reward we get for being good." At first this sounds odd, but Rosenberg does not clarify. Rosenberg adds that we don't know how to get what we want, instead we do what we "should", we act as good little boys and girls. I think this needs a lot of unpacking and explanation, which he does not really supply. I resist Rosenberg's formulation, because it seems to imply that if you're not depressed, you must've given up the idea of goodness, implying that you must embrace badness, or at least neutrality, in order to gain satisfaction. The best I can do right now is to wave my hands in this fashion: Manipulative people often use morality to gain compliance from others. In this case, at least, because the manipulator gets to define what is good, being good will lead to disappointment. Ironically, this is all so abstract that it's hard to get a good grip on it. Rosenberg is violating his own advice, by keeping his advice vague. Also, our culture disregards selfishness, I think that idea helps prevent the "good children" from asking for what they want, and hence they feel frustrated. When our thoughts get distracted into the good/bad framework, what we want and what we feel get obscured. Rosenberg thinks we will gain from having a better conscious understanding of what we feel and what we want.
By communicating out feelings and motives along with the request, we give better context for negotiation.
For Rosenberg, every communication involves some form of request, if only for acknowledgement.
More often, we want information or some sort of action as a response.
Rosenberg notes that business meetings can be much more useful if those attending the meeting know what sort of choice they are making, what sort of responses will do.
Rosenberg advises against turning requests into demands. A demand is a request that has a punishment, criticism or judgement attached to refusal. If we empathize when someone refuses a request, it is not a demand. Just because a particular request is refused, that does not mean the negotiation must end, there may still be space for clarifying goals and changing strategies.
This is one of the strongest implicit moral claims of NVC, that persons are entitled to refuse requests.
It's important to get feedback, to make sure everyone is on the same page. One way to do this is to request and offer reflections.

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