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Beyond brutish & short: combining compassion and honesty

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. 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
  2. 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
  3. “I felt attacked.” MEETING POST-MORTEM Not  a  feeling Judges  others

      as  responsible Probably  not  their   intention
  4. “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?’”
  5. THE 4 NVC COMPONENTS 1. Observations 2. Feelings 3. Needs

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

    “I found 300 bugs in the code that you wrote.” 1. OBSERVATIONS 
  7. “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
  8. “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 
  9. “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 
  10. 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
  11. Frustration. Fear. Confusion. Shame. WHAT ARE THEY FEELING? WHAT ARE

    THEY NEEDING? Understanding. Safety. Reassurance. Support. Enlightenment. WHEN THEY DON’T ‘GET IT’…