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Beyond brutish & short: combining compassion and honesty

B6031b692931f4f7b7a6a8370316daf7?s=47 bensauer
September 24, 2013

Beyond brutish & short: combining compassion and honesty

From my Dutch father I inherited a direct, honest style of communication that’s rare in the UK. It gets me into trouble sometimes, but it also sets me apart. In this country, cutting to the chase can be rare and refreshing. Many successful teams are built on a culture of challenging each other to do better, so we can learn a lot from the honest Dutch communication style. In the UK we sometimes go out of our way to avoid discussing the truth.

However, brutal honesty only gets me so far: through my mistakes I’ve realised that I could be more considerate to others. I’ve been learning Non-violent communication (NVC), which has shown me that it’s possible to stay considerate while speaking my truth.

NVC helps us pay attention to the needs and feelings of others. I’ll talk about how it’s a useful lens for my life and work, and how I think it can help others—especially geeks!



September 24, 2013

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  1. combining compassion & honesty BEYOND ‘BRUTISH AND SHORT’ @bensauer DARE

  2. Ever been frustrated when a client or colleague doesn’t ‘get

  3. flickr.com/photos/8725928@N02/8449552645/

  4. None
  5. flickr.com/photos/stillburning/46441985/


  7. In Holland, it is considered rude to be anything other

    than honest and direct.
  8. BRITISH COMMUNICATION What we say That is a very brave

    proposal What others understand He thinks I have courage What we mean You are insane

  10. “Apple has a culture of respectful challenge” TYLER MINCEY, IPHONE


  12. RATIONALITY WARNING! flickr.com/photos/space2k/63427605/

  13. NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION An API for good human relations? AKA ‘NVC’

  14. Our language is judgemental in ways we’re not aware of.

    Communicating needs and feelings, without judgement, improves our ability to understand each other. NVC PHILOSOPHY
  15. “<Website X> is unusable rubbish!” A TWEET, BY SOMEONE Mixes

     observation   with  evaluation
  16. “I felt attacked.” MEETING POST-MORTEM Not  a  feeling Judges  others

      as  responsible Probably  not  their   intention
  17. Our feelings are our own.

  18. “I am not easily frightened. Not because I am brave,

    but because… I know that I must try as hard as I can to understand everything that anyone ever does. ETTY HILLESUM (when the) Gestapo officer yelled at me… I felt no indignation, rather a real compassion, and would have liked to ask, ‘Did you have a very unhappy childhood, has your girlfriend let you down?’”
  19. Compassion does not mean being nice.

  20. THE 4 NVC COMPONENTS 1. Observations 2. Feelings 3. Needs

  21. “Bill, this is terribly buggy code.” TYPICAL FACTUAL, WITHOUT EVALUATION

    “I found 300 bugs in the code that you wrote.” 1. OBSERVATIONS 
  22. “I feel overworked.” TYPICAL WITHOUT INTERPRETATION “I’m exhausted.” 2. FEELINGS

  23. “I can’t work with this junk.” TYPICAL TAKES RESPONSIBILITY, NEEDS

    CLEAR “I’d like the code to be clear so that everyone can work efficiently.” 3. NEEDS
  24. “Take your bloody post-it exercise somewhere else!” TYPICAL POSITIVE, CONCRETE,

    UNCONDITIONAL “Mind if I have two hours of dedicated coding time alone this morning?” 4. REQUESTS 
  25. “Why won’t they accept this design! It’s the one!” SOMEONE

    SAYS: YOU SAY: “Are you angry now they’ve made their choice?” LISTENING 
  26. NVC is best used in times of difficulty.

  27. NVC is not easy.


  29. NEXT STEPS WITH NVC 1. Videos e.g. http://bit.ly/nvcvideo 2. The

    book(s) 3. Practise (there’s a workbook for groups) 4. Courses
  30. Frustration. Fear. Confusion. Shame. WHAT ARE THEY FEELING? WHAT ARE

    THEY NEEDING? Understanding. Safety. Reassurance. Support. Enlightenment. WHEN THEY DON’T ‘GET IT’…
  31. I’m @bensauer... Thanks! NVC resources / links: bit.ly/nvc-resources