October 01, 2010 — TLC for Your Family #20 – Another Nonviolent Communication Miracle

TLC for Your Family #20 – Another Nonviolent Communication Miracle
October 01, 2010


Maybe it wasn’t Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Maybe it was something else. But it sure seemed like NVC played a big part.

My husband and I had concerns related to our 6 year old son’s soccer coach.

Her actions were not meeting our needs for care or well-being for the children. Her tone of voice left us with the impression that she was frustrated numerous times during each practice. She sent her son to the sidelines to cry alone more times than we could count, once calling him a “cry baby” along the way. One other child in particular received various punishments and reprimands more than once each practice. And once, when that boy didn’t seem to be focusing the way she would have liked, she asked, “Are you deaf? Are you deaf!? Are you deaf!!? Are you deaf!!!???”

We soon began to realize Elliot was anxious. Although the coach wasn’t really treating Elliot that way directly, he seemed to be concerned she might, and to be trying to do everything he could to prevent it.

There were several signs. He started displaying unusually anxious body language around the coach. He was scared to trust me, that he could run laps with the other kids near the field before a game, without verification from her. And he was petrified that the coach might get angry with him if he wore a pair of “Hot Wheels” sunglasses to practice. He expressed that fear over and over again for about 45 minutes before practice, despite repeated reassurance and empathy. And out of the blue one day after practice he said something like, “Sometimes I feel like crying at practice, but I don’t because I’m afraid the coach will get mad at me.”

My husband and my hearts broke more and more with each successive sign, because we so want peace of mind and emotional well-being for Elliot, and other children.

At long last my husband and I decided to email the coach about our concerns – using NVC. We shared the above observations in neutral, factual terms. We shared the feelings and unmet needs we had, witnessing these things. We empathized with what understandable needs we thought she might be trying to meet. We offered specific alternative approaches that we thought might help Elliot and work for her. Finally, we requested that she let us know how she felt reading what we wrote, asked whether any of our observations resonated with things she had observed, and asked whether she was willing to consider any of our suggestions, and/or whether she had any other ideas.

We were absolutely floored by her response. She vulnerably revealed how hurt she felt, trying so hard, as a new coach, and still having parents and kids with unmet needs. She s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to seriously hear and be open to our concerns and ideas, despite her expressed temptation to simply “defend” herself. She addressed each idea we had, accepting and committing to most. And she offered several ideas of her own that we liked.

And then she followed all that up with a change in approach to practice on the field that left my husband’s and my jaws on the ground in amazement. We saw:

  • A total shift in tone and body language;
  • Her speaking softly and with compassion to the child she used to punish and reprimand multiple times per practice;
  • Her comforting her crying son;
  • Her speaking with the assistant coach about changing his approach as well, which he did;
  • And much, much more.

By the end of the practice, we were so stunned and overjoyed we could hardly contain ourselves. I rushed over to her and gave her a big hug, expressing my amazement and gratitude in no uncertain terms.

WOW! Her approach surpassed our wildest hopes for openness, responsiveness, and care.

And I give most of the credit to her willingness to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, and to NVC.

Like I said, NVC may have had nothing to do with it. But it seems like more than coincidence, how often these kinds of “communication miracles” occur in my life now, when I use NVC. I believe hearing NVC rather than blame, judgment, anger, or invitations to guilt or shame gave her the boost she needed to respond in kind.

I don’t know what else to say. I’m still stunned about the results. And celebrating NVC like I never have before.

If you’re intrigued, and want to learn more about NVC, I invite you to visit my Family Communication page. There you’ll find a general description of NVC, an example involving a child, as well as book references and links to help you find out more.

Meanwhile, and whatever communication method you use, I wish you and yours “Happy Family-ing!”

Tiffany Clark
Discover What Might be Possible in Your Family Life!

PLEASE NOTE: The rules governing my profession advise I inform you of the following. Issues of this ezine may periodically contain messages concerning Tiffany L. Clark’s availability for professional employment within the meaning of California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400. In any case, no statement in any ezine issue is intended to guarantee any result in any individual case. And neither viewing the information contained in this email, nor communicating with Tiffany, nor attending a talk or workshop series, establishes any duty of confidentiality, mediator-client relationship, coach-client relationship, or attorney-client relationship. These can only be established with a signed client fee agreement for mediation, coaching, or legal services respectively. Please also note that Tiffany is not a psychologist or therapist. Therefore, she is not capable of diagnosing you or any of your family members, or providing any other services only a licensed mental health professional could provide. You are advised to turn to such professionals if you desire such assistance.



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