This is the second post in a two-part series on strategies individuals can use to cultivate inner peace that can likewise lead to outer peace.
The Center for Nonviolent Communication offers a list of 10 THINGS WE CAN DO TO CONTRIBUTE TO INTERNAL, INTERPERSONAL, AND ORGANIZATIONAL PEACE. In the first part, we discussed the first five things. Here we will cover the five remaining tips.
“Instead of saying what we want someone to BE, say what action we’d like the person to take that we hope will help the person be that way.”
For example, instead of telling your partner that you want them to be more loving, you could ask your partner to hug and kiss you more often. The difficulty with asking someone to “be” a certain way is that it’s so subjective. Your partner might already think they are being loving, and then when you ask them to be more loving without offering specifics, they may get frustrated or confused. But, if instead, you ask them to do an action that will help you feel more loved, then you’re offering your partner something they can do to help you.
“Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone’s opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.”
This is a tough one. In our highly reactive culture, it can be difficult to respond to another person’s opinions in a way that doesn’t lead to unhelpful conflict. For me at least, this CNVC suggestion feels like next-level stuff, so I’ll also add to this tip to remember to pause and breath before responding to another person’s opinions. If you’re like me and feel like tuning into what the other person feels and needs is too hard right now, then focus on what you need and feel in that moment and give yourself an inner acknowledgement of that before speaking.
“Instead of saying ‘No,’ say what need of ours prevents us from saying ‘Yes.’”
I’ll offer a similar adjustment to number eight. It is very important in our current era to empower oneself and others to say “no,” and to let that be “no-with-a-period.” So I want to give each of us permission to adjust their eighth suggestion to say, “NO” when we need to. However, their tip applies very well to situations where we are talking with people whom we have a relationship with, especially people we love. In those situations it can be powerfully loving and generative to say, for example, “I wish I could help you move, but I can’t because I need to spend time with my son.”
“If we are feeling upset, think about what need of ours is not being met, and what we could do to meet it, instead of thinking about what’s wrong with others or ourselves.”
This one is so good! And so helpful. Like many folks, I have a strong tendency to assume that I’m feeling badly because of something another person did. It has helped me a lot to shift that thinking to ask myself what I need. For example, to return to the example above, instead of getting mad at your partner for not hugging you and kissing you as much as you’d like, you can acknowledge that you want more physical affection that you’re getting.
“Instead of praising someone who did something we like, express our gratitude by telling the person what need of ours that action met.”
CNVC ends their ten tips with a very interesting one that seems, at first glance, unrelated to conflict or peace. But after thinking about it, this makes a lot of sense. If we walk around praising people when they do something that we like, then it sets up an unhelpful power dynamic where the other person receives our praise for unclear, unpredictable reasons. If, instead, we express gratitude for what the person did then and offer specifics of how it helped fulfill a need of ours, then we are giving the person more information to understand why we like what they did.
I’ll end here with a quote by Marvin Gaye: “If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else.”