This article was formed from a discussion following the second meeting of ‘Good Souls’.

Angus* told me that Ben had made him angry as Ben told his story round the campfire, because… “all that chat and he (Ben) could not see he needs to help himself first and foremost.” I laughed out loud and said that comment is like kicking a puppy! Ben is one of the nicest people I know; how can you get angry at him? What’s going here I said? We are having the wrong conversation. We were on the phone and I then asked… When do you ask for help? When do you put yourself first? There was a strong expletive from Angus and he hung up. Great conversations followed on that week and we are still good friends!

Quite often it’s not about ‘Them’, it’s about ‘Us’.

It’s a mirror, if we choose to look in it.

Let’s look closer at those feelings that we experience when there is conflict.

This is an extract from an article by Marcela López Levy

The idea of using our feelings as a signpost to shared needs comes from ‘non-violent communication’ (or NVC), a method of conflict resolution created by mediator and activist Marshall Rosenberg. NVC is a deceptively simple and powerful approach which asks that you take responsibility for your own reactions — so someone doesn’t ‘make’ you angry; rather, you may feel anger when something is said. This is at odds with everything we’re taught in today’s ‘culture of blame.’


You take responsibility for your own reactions.

But owning your feelings is only the beginning: NVC then asks that you follow the feeling to the need that lies underneath. So if I feel frustrated with someone because in my view ‘they are not listening,’ I have to take a step back and wonder, what is it that I need in this situation? I would like to be heard, and that means I need understanding, or at least consideration. If I am then able to engage the person I’m frustrated with from that need and not from the feeling of frustration, my words and how I express them will be very different — and our human ability to mirror and respond in kind means that I am more likely to get a genuine response. We know it’s easy to escalate conflict, but it is also possible to build on empathy.

It’s surprisingly hard to work out one’s own needs, as opposed to what you ‘need others to do.’ A need is not a preference or an opinion, it’s the recognition of our deepest and most vulnerable desires. Crucially, our needs as human beings in this deeper sense are shared, so we can all recognise them. If we are able to speak while connected to our needs, others are more likely to respond to that commonality instead of reacting against our differences.

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