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Conversational Practice

A conversational practice happens all along the growth journey. We live, interact with others, and occasionally communicate. We learn by what contributes to connection and what doesn't. This post contains some of the wisdom I've gathered in my growth journey.

Let go of structure

When I first started practicing Compassionate Communication, I relied on structure of Observations-Feelings-Needs-Requests (OFNR); I latched on to it because it worked in so many dimensions, except conversationally. Now I see that phase of my life as a learning step toward letting it go. OFNR represents a framework of options, that I can skip, rearrange and listen for in my interactions. OFNR summarizes what's usually supportive of connection. Once I understand the key concepts of OFNR, I can release them in favor of what's happening in the moment...

Listen to the heart of what's happening

The listening starts inside -- the most frequent conversation anyone has is with themselves. Developing the self-awareness of our own thinking is aided by a daily journaling self-empathy practice. As I tune in and connect with my heart, I begin to feel relaxed, and naturally curious about the experiences of those around me. Speaking to others skilled in empathy also helps; it helps to have several "empathy buddies" scheduled during the week to support getting clear with one's inner experience. The Heart-Canvas supports learning and empathy for whatever is happening: to me, to you, to whoever is around. It's important to know whose needs you're listening for -- ownership and personal responsibility are essential for discernment. Those who have some experience in practicing Compassionate Communication must take responsibility for their own OFNR practice to support creating a space for connection, and meet everyone wherever they are at -- we're all doing the best we know how to meet our needs. After lots of practice, listening for feelings and needs becomes easy.

Use words when it helps to connect

If your goal is connection, use words when it serves to connect to life -- to connect to needs. Otherwise, just listen and enjoy.

Deepen your communication practice

Learn empathetic listening and compassionate honesty through frequent use of the Heart-Canvas while following a Growth Journey based on principles of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Further opportunities for growth are available through personal coaching, reading various books on NVC, joining a practice group, attending offerings by James or other certified NVC trainers.