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July 19, 2014

The Hidden Violence in Non-Violent, New-Age Communication.

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The new age world is overrun with non-violent communication.

It seems that every other person is talking about projection, mirrors, emotional detachment, conscious communication and more. Having been involved as a yoga instructor for the past 10 years, I must admit, I’m sick of the language.

Speaking non-violently doesn’t make the language non-violent.

Violence stems from attitudes, perceptions and personality. A person who is aggressive will be aggressive regardless if the words have sharp edges or are couched in fluffy clouds.

While it is a noble sentiment, and a well-meaning intention to learn how to speak with greater awareness, it does not mean that the message communicated is any less hurtful. In my experience, people who learn to speak with so-called non-violence are even more hurtful. Why?

Because they recognized that the original approach to language was out of alignment. Rather than changing the attitude that precedes language, they instead discovered a way to appear more loving and kind. Discovering how to use ‘non-violent’ language only creates additional confusion. Soft words couched with violence are harder to identify, especially when the person uttering them is convinced that their language is not violent.

Most communication happens non-verbally. Scientists claim that up to 80 percent of communication happens without words.

Do you know how it feels to have somebody say that your heart-break is simply emotional attachment?

How wonderful it feels when experiencing grief and a death in the family to have some smart-ass spout how your pain is caused by attachment. The worst part is that these types of individuals fail to see how hurtful their presence and words still are. All the finances spent to learn how to communicate non-violently are wasted.

In my own experience, people who believe they are non-violent in communication are the worst listeners.

I cannot describe how delicious it is when expressing a perspective to have somebody claim that its a projection. And wrong. Whenever somebody starts spouting about projections, mirrors and pseudo-psychology my alarm bells go off. Such an individual is, for me, a well-intentioned individual with whom I cannot communicate.

For me, such language is the height of inconsiderate relationship.

When a person starts the holier than thou speech about projection or mirroring, I wonder if they are aware of the other aspects present. Before such words occur, something non-spiritual happens. A judgment. An assumption. And most assuredly, an absence of listening or understanding.

The person who claims to be so wise and points out the fallacies of others and how they are projecting have first made an assumption, then a judgment, and then opened their mouth. It is a clear case of foot-in-mouth disease.

A wise man once said, “Open Mouth, Big Mistake.”

And that is because when a person is experiencing true emotional turmoil, telling them to feel otherwise or pointing out their flaws is not helpful or loving. It only makes the person with the open mouth an pompous jerk. It is separative language, unkind and absent of sympathy or compassion.

I’m speaking from experience. I’ve been that person. I’ve seen people respond to this type of language.

And they were right. It sucks. I listened to them and grew past it. Novices make amateur errors.

Did you lose your beloved pet? How enamored will you be with the person who says its just an emotional attachment and to get over it. Did you lose your job? How wonderful to have it pointed out that it was this or that fault of yours. Have a co-worker on your case? It’s a blast to explain yourself and receive a wall of ‘you-are-projecting’ and other such language.

Now take that kind of language and apply it to somebody who has died. A mother or father, brother or sister, relative, friend or community member. Losing somebody from a broken relationship is a type of death.

Can you imagine anything more thoughtless and unkind than the violence in non-violent communication?

A broken, grieving heart will not be receptive to pseudo-psychological new-agey helpful language. Try it, and receive a mouthful of anger and rage. And rightly so.

A story I heard in the ashram comes to mind.

There was once a man who was the head monk of a monastery. Far and wide, he was known for being enlightened and people inquired of him for wisdom and guidance in life. His disciples saw him one day through an open window in a home. He was crying. Upon his return to the monastery the disciples berated him and asked him, “How could you, such an enlightened being, be sitting there crying? That isn’t enlightenment.”

His response was, “How could I not cry. They had lost their child.”

The enlightened monk was fully human with the full range of emotional experiences.

He was participating in life with the family. Not telling them that crying was futile. Or to focus on an afterlife. Or to release their emotional attachments. He was present, felt fully, and was moved.

The ideology about emotional attachment and detachment, language and non-violence are so out of alignment with reality in our modern world.

And like the novices who spouted non-sense, participating with thoughtless language will only provoke the person who is already hurting to a deeper pain. It communicates a lack of support, a blindness to their humanity, an insensitivity to the life experience they are having.

People hurt. Reality carries pain within it. Do you want to be loving and say to such a person that their emotions are the source of their problem? Do so at your own risk. You’ll lose that person as a friend, diminish their trust and faith, and join the ranks of world-class jerk.

Real communication and true non-violent language begins with personality and attitude.

And from that stems language. Slapping on a facade of feel-good language and conscious dialogue does not change who the person is, their attitude, tone or personality. A person who speaks violently will still do so after learning non-violent communication techniques, except with the added benefit of being passive aggressive and deluded.

Real non-violent communication is open, direct and does not give a flip about political correctness.

Even brutal words can be a soothing salve when spoken by a heart who is loving and understands human experience.

It is simply conscious, responsive, and directly relates to experience and humanity.

It will own the results of words uttered, and adjust. Such a person does not hold back. They stand tall with integrity and will bear the brunt of what has been spoken.

The real secret to non-violent communication is as simple as listening attentively and having compassion.

A wise man once said nothing.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Rosie Bailey Stevenson/Flickr

Keith Artisan

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