Maria Arpa, Executive Director of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, joins the FLI Podcast to share the ins and outs of the powerful needs-based framework of nonviolent communication.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
- What nonviolent communication (NVC) consists of
- How NVC is different from normal discourse
- How NVC is composed of observations, feelings, needs, and requests
- NVC for systemic change
- Foundational assumptions in NVC
- An NVC exercise
2:50 What is nonviolent communication?
4:05 How is NVC different from normal discourse?
18:40 NVC’s four components: observations, feelings, needs, and requests
34:50 NVC for systemic change
54:20 The foundational assumptions of NVC
58:00 An exercise in NVC
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Lucas Perry: Welcome to the Future of Life Institute Podcast. I’m Lucas Perry. Today’s conversation is with Maria Arpa on nonviolent communication, which will be referred to as NVC for short throughout the episode. This podcast continues to explore the theme of wisdom in relation to the growing power of our technology and our efforts to mitigate existential risk, which was covered in our last episode with Stephen Batchelor. Maria and I discuss what nonviolent communication consists of, its four components of observations, feelings, needs, and requests, we discuss the efficacy of NVC, its core assumptions, Maria’s experience using NVC in the British prison system, and we also do an on the spot NVC exercise towards the end of the episode.
I find nonviolent communication to be a powerful upgrade in relating, resolving conflict, and addressing the needs and grievances we find in ourselves and others. It cuts through many of the bugs of normal human discourse around conflict and makes communication far more wholesome and collaborative than it otherwise might be. I honestly view it as a quite a powerful and essential skill or way of being that has had quite a transformative impact on my own life, and may very well do the same for others. It’s a paradigm shift in communication and human relating that I would argue is an essential part of the project of waking up and growing up.
Maria joined the Center of Nonviolent Communication as the Executive Director in November 2019. She was introduced to NVC by UK Trainer Daren de Witt, who invited her to see Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of NVC, speak in London, a moment that changed her life. She was inspired to attend one of the Special Sessions on Social Change in Switzerland in 2005 and then invited Marshall to Malta where she organised a conference between concentration camp survivors and the multi-national corporation that had bought the site formerly used as a place of torture. Since then she has worked with marginalised, hard to reach individuals and communities and taken her work into prisons, schools, neighbourhoods and workplaces.
And with that, let’s get into our conversation with Maria Arpa.
I really appreciate you coming on, and I’m excited to learn more about NVC. A lot of people in my community, myself included, find it to be quite a powerful paradigm, so I feel excited and grateful that you’re here. So I think we can kick things off here with just a pretty simple question. What is nonviolent communication?
Maria Arpa: Thank you. Yes, and it’s really good to be here. So nonviolent communication is a way or an approach or a system for putting words to living a nonviolent life. So if you’ve chosen nonviolence as a philosophy or as a way of life, then what Marshall Rosenberg proposed in creating nonviolent communication in the 1960s is a way of communicating interpersonally based on the idea that we need to connect as human beings first.
So NVC, which is short for nonviolent communication, is both a spiritual practice and a set of concrete skills. And it’s based on the idea of listening deeply to ourself and to others, in order to establish what are the real needs that we’re trying to meet? And from the understanding of the needs that come through empathic listening, then we can begin to build strategies.
Lucas Perry: Alright, so can you juxtapose what NVC does, compared to what usually happens in normal discourse and conflict resolution between people?
Maria Arpa: Yeah, lovely. Thank you. I like that question. In society, we have been brought up, and I would go so far as to say indoctrinated, with taking adversarial positions. And we do that because we think about things like the legal profession, academia, science, the military, and all of those disciplines, which are highly prized in society, but they all use a debate model of discourse.
And that’s wonderful if you want to prove a theory or expand the knowledge between people, but if we’re actually trying to just build a relationship in order that we can coexist, do things, envision, create something new in society, debate just doesn’t work. So at the very micro level, in the family system, what I experienced with couples and families is a sort of table tennis match. And while you’re speaking, I am preparing my counter argument. I would say that we’ve been indoctrinated with a debate model of conversation that even extends into our entertainment, because in my understanding, if you go to scriptwriting school, they will tell you that to make a Hollywood blockbuster, you need to leave a conflict in every scene.
Maria Arpa: So that has become the way in which we communicate with each other, which is played out in our legal systems, in the justice system, it’s played out in education. When I position that against nonviolent communication, nonviolent communication says we need to build a relationship first. What is the relationship between us? So if we even take this podcast, Lucas, you and I had built a relationship. We didn’t just make an appointment, come on, and do this, we got to know each other a bit. Is that a helpful answer?
Lucas Perry: That’s a good question. Yeah, I think that is a helpful answer. I’m also curious if you could expand a bit more on what the actual communicative features of this debate style of conversation focus on. So where NVC focuses on talking about needs and feelings, feelings being evidence of needs, and also making observations, observations as being opposed to judgments, what is it that the normal debate style or adversarial kind of conversations that we’re having, what is the structure and content of that kind of conversation that is not needs, feelings, and observations?
To me, it often seems like it deals with much more constructed and synthetic concepts where, NVC you boil down concepts to things which are very simple and basic and core, whereas the adversarial relationship deals with more complex constructive concepts like respect, abandonment, and is less simple in a sense. So do you have anything else you’d add here on to what actually constitutes the adversarial kind of conversation?
Maria Arpa: Yeah, definitely. So in an adversarial conversation now we have two levels. And the first level, because I’m really thinking about how we’ve been programmed, in the first level, we’re battling backwards and forwards and what we’re out to do is win the argument. So what I want is for my argument to prevail over yours. And in families, it’s generally who’s the worst off person, who’s the most tired, who’s the most unresourced, who does most of the work, who’s earning most of the money, that level. It’s a competition. It’s a competitive conversation.
At its worst ends of the spectrum, and when we think about school and education, it’s a debate, which also includes the prospects of enforcement, which is punitive. So we could simply be competing to win an argument or we could be actually out to provide evidence of the other person’s wrongness in order to punish them, maybe not even physically punish them, but punish them with the withdrawal of our love.
Lucas Perry: Right, so if we’re not sufficiently mindful, there is this kind of default way that we have been conditioned into communicating, where I noticed a sense of strong ego identification. It’s a bit selfish. It’s not collaborative in any sense. As you said, it’s kind of like if I can make and give points which are sufficiently strong, then the person will see that I’m the most tired, I’m the most overworked, I have contributed the most, and then my needs will be satisfied. And then my needs being satisfied is more implicit, and it’s never made explicit. And so NVC is more about making the needs and feelings explicit and the core and cutting out the argument.
Maria Arpa: Yes, I really agree with that. The problem with that debate model, that adversarial model, is that I might get my needs met, I might be able to bulldoze or bully my way, or I might be able to play the victim and get my needs met, but usually I have induced the other person to respond to me out of fear, guilt, or shame, not out of love. Someone, somewhere will pay for that. It’s that whole thing, you may have won the battle, but you haven’t won the war. While at a very micro level, day by day, I can scrape by and score points and win this and get my need met, in the long term, I’m actually still feeding the insecurity that nothing can come without struggle.
Lucas Perry: That’s a really good point.
Maria Arpa: And when you say it cuts out the argument, the argument bit which is not necessary, I’m saying that we will go into the dialogue with the idea that once we’ve established the needs, then we can actually build agreements. Now, that’s not to say that I’m going to get everything I want, and you’re going to get everything I want. But there’s a beauty in the negotiation that comes from the desire to contribute.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, so I found what you said to be quite beautiful and powerful around, you may gain short term benefits from participating in what one might call violent communication, or this kind of adversarial debate format, you might get your needs met but there’s a sense in which you’re conditioning in yourself and others this toxic communicative framework, where first, you’re more deeply instantiating this duality between you and other people, which you’re reifying by participating in this kind of conversation. And that’s leading to, I think, a belief in an unwanted world, a world that you don’t want to live in, a world where my needs will only be met, if I’ll take on this unhappy, defensive, self-centered stance in communication. And so that’s a contradicted belief. If I don’t do the debate format, then I will not be safe, or I will not get my needs met or I will be unhappy. You don’t want that to be true, and so it doesn’t have to be true if you pivot into NVC.
Maria Arpa: Yes, and got two things really to say about that. One is that we are often counting the cost of something and one of the things that we very rarely factor in is the emotional cost to getting our needs met, the emotional cost to taking on the task. And sometimes when I work with people, we find that the price is too high. I may be getting my fame and fortune or whatever it is I’m after, but actually, the emotional price to my soul is just too high.
And most of us have been taught not to imagine that as being of any importance. In fact, most of us have been taught, rather like scientific experiments, that when I’m looking at a situation, even when I’m not taking a self-centered point of view, even when I’m looking at it and wanting to be generous and benevolent, I look at a situation and I fracture myself into that situation, as if I don’t matter, or I don’t count, and the truth is everybody matters, and everybody counts.
So that’s one thing, and then when I heard you talking about this idea of adopting the adversarial approach to life and how that will feed the system, the best example I have of that is in the prison that I’ve been working in for the last four years. Prisons are pretty mean places, and so most people come into prison in the belief that they need to develop a very strong set of armor in order to defend themselves, and sometimes attack is the best form of defense, in order to survive this new world. And what I’ve been able to demonstrate with the guys that I’ve been training is that actually, if you throw away the armor, and if you actually come to be able to work out what your needs are, and be able to help other people find their needs, actually, it becomes a different place.
And the proof of that has been 25 men that I have trained to do what I do within the prison, working with other prisoners across the prison, and turning the prison into one of the safest jails in the UK.
Lucas Perry: Wow.
Maria Arpa: So the first thing that happens is I deliver training, and it’s intensive, it’s grueling, there’s a lot of work to do, and what happens to the guys as they’re doing the training. Because see, I believe that the people that cause the problems are the ones who have the answers to the problems. We should go to the people that cause the problems and say, “How do we not end up here again?” So as they do this training and they realize the potential to make their prison sentence go better, what a nice thing to be able to do, and then they realize that actually, I can’t do this for anyone else until I’ve done it for myself. So that’s part of the transformative bit where they go, “Well hang on, I’ve got so much conflict, or I’ve got so much inner conflict or dislike of myself, or whatever chaos going on inside, I can’t possibly do this for anyone else. So, right, now we can begin because now we have to begin as a team.”
And so what’s been remarkable for me is 25 men who, on the outside of prison would never ordinarily come into contact with each other, from completely different walks of life, different areas, different ages, different crimes, we’ve got everything from what in America you call homicide, through sexual offenses, to fraud, and that type of thing.
So these 25 men have been through a process to be able to work together as a team and to be able to understand each other, and they are completely blown away by the idea that they have a process so when they feel that the system that they’re using, because they get overrun with casework, and that what I’ve taught them to do is you have to put yourselves first. So when that happens, you actually need to stop everything and come back as a team, and work out what are the petty conflicts that are arising, and use this nonviolent communication process to come back to center. So for me, very much, there’s a huge difference in being able to live this way, and no other greater place have I proved it than in a place called prison.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, exactly. I bet that’s quite liberating for them, and I bet that there’s a deeper sense of security that is unavailable when you’re taking the adversarial, aggressive stance.
Maria Arpa: There’s a deeper sense of security. There’s a huge amount of gratification for somebody who has literally been thrown away by society and told that they’re worthless and have no place, and I don’t want to get into the crime or whether they did it or didn’t do it, but they’ve been thrown away by society, to actually find that they can be in service of others, and they can actually start to love themselves. So there’s a really huge gratification in being able to do that and not do it in a self sacrificing way, to be able to do it in a way that enriches the other person and enriches themselves. That for me is monumental.
And the second thing is that, in places like prisons and family, I often compare schools to prisons, you can be overwhelmed by the power of enforcement and the misuse of authority. So often, one person in a position of power may dish out the rules one way today in a different way tomorrow, may treat one person differently to another. And so what we’ve been able to establish is that if the guys sit in circle and invite officers to those circles, they can clear up some of the things that just create unnecessary conflict.
Now, obviously, in prison, some topics are non-negotiable, and we don’t go there, right? And if you don’t think you should be imprisoned, then you need to take the appropriate steps through your legal advisors. But if it’s a case of the laundry’s messed up every week and there are fights starting over it, if it’s a case of exactly who’s collecting the slips for the lunches, and that’s creating, or there’s an argument when people are queuing up for their food, these things can be sat down and had out and people could talk about their different experiences, and we can clear up those gray areas by the guys coming up with a policy. And they do this using needs.
Lucas Perry: All right, it’s encouraging to see it as effective and liberating in the case of the prison system. I’m interested in talking with you more about how this might apply to, for example the effective altruism movement, or altruism in general, and also working on really big problems in the world that involve both industry and government, who at times function and act rather impersonally. Where, for example, the collective incentives of some corporation are to maximize some bottom line, and so it’s unclear how one could NVC with something where the aggregate of all the behavior is something rather impersonal.
So right before we get to that, I just want to more concretely lay out the four components of NVC practice, just so listeners have a better sense of what it actually consists of. So could you take us through how NVC consists of observations, feelings, needs, and requests?
Maria Arpa: Yeah, I’d love to, yes, thank you. So usually, in our heads, if we’re indoctrinated in that adversarial and we don’t even know it, whatever, usually what’s happening is when we see something, we’re busy judging it, evaluating it, deciding whether we like it or don’t like it, imposing our diagnosis, and generally having an opinion about it, good or bad. And then, of course we live in a world now where people can take to social media and destroy other people if they choose. So we can actually just act out of what we think we’re seeing.
In nonviolent communication, what we do is we try to get to what we call the observation without the evaluation. So what is it that’s actually happening? And that is really trying to separate the reality from the perception. A really good example of that was I saw a demonstration once, a woman came down from the audience, and she wanted to talk about how angry she was with her flatmate. And she gave out this whole story and the trainer would say, “Well, we need to get to the observation, we need to get to the observation.” And out of this whole mass, the only two observations that she could come up with were that her flatmate occasionally leaves a dirty plate and a dirty mug and dirty cutlery in the sink without washing it up. And on occasion, her flatmate when she leaves the flat or the apartment, allows the door to slam and make a very loud noise behind her. And those are the only two observations that she could come up with that were actually really happening. Everything else was what she made up around it.
Lucas Perry: Yeah. So there’s this sense in which we’re telling ourselves stories on top of what may be just kind of simple, brute facts about the world. And then she’s just suffering so much over the stories that she’s telling herself.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so the story attached to someone leaving the dirty plates in the sink is, she’s doing it on purpose, doing it to get at me. Those are the sorts of things we might tell ourselves. Or we might be the opposite and say, “She’s just so selfish.” And I really love what you just said. Of course, the person that I’m causing the most grief and pain to is myself. I’m cutting myself off from my own channel of love.
So that’s how we get to the observation, and it’s a really important part of the NVC process, because it helps us to identify that which is what we are telling ourselves and that which is actually happening in front of us. And the way that I could tell if it’s an observation or an evaluation, is I could record it on a video camera and show it to you and you would see the same thing.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, that makes sense. You’re trying to describe things as more factual without the story elements. This happened, then this happened, rather than, “My asshole roommate decided to leave her dirty shit everywhere because she just doesn’t care and she sucks.”
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so that’s the first step. And then what we’re looking to do is check in with ourselves on how do we feel. This is a really important step, because in nonviolent communication, what we propose is that our feelings are the red warning light on the dashboard of the car that tells you to pull over and look under the hood, you would say, we would say bonnet, and to check what else is going on. So feelings are a gateway. They’re our doorway. So they are our barometer.
So it’s really important to develop a really good vocabulary around feelings. And it’s really important to get to the feeling itself, whether it’s sadness, or anger, or upset, or despair or grief, or joy, or happiness, it’s really important to develop a vocabulary of feelings because if I ask someone how they feel, and I get, “I feel like,” no feeling is coming after the word “like.” I feel like jumping off a cliff. I feel like just going to bed and never getting up again. I feel like running away. That’s not a feeling. People can use those kinds of metaphors for us to try and guess the feelings, but actually what I want is the feeling.
Lucas Perry: Right, those are overly constructed. They need to be deconstructed into core feelings, which is a skill in itself that one learns. So you could say for example, “I feel abandoned,” but saying, “I feel abandoned,” needs to be deconstructed. Being abandoned is being afraid and feeling lonely.
Maria Arpa: So if we say, “I feel abandoned,” and I’m particularly referring to the ED at the end, or, “I feel disappointed,” rather than disappointment, then what I’m doing is I’m actually, by the backdoor, I’m accusing somebody of doing it to me.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, that’s right. It’s a belief about the world actually, that other people have abandoned you or are capable of abandoning you.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, exactly. So there’s a skill in the language. However, if you go to the cnvc.org website, we have a free feelings list and a needs list that’s downloadable for anybody that wants to go and get it. And that helps you to really get closer to the language.
Lucas Perry: Okay, so I do have a objection here that I don’t want to spend too much time on, but I’m curious what your reaction is. So I think that what you would call the “abandoned” word is a faux feeling, is that the right word you guys use? There’s a sense in which it needs to be further deconstructed, which you mentioned, because it’s a belief about the world, yet is there not also some reality that we need to respect and engage with, where abusers or toxic people may actually be doing the kind of thing which seems like a belief in the world.
Maria Arpa: That’s where I would get back to the observation. Because those things do happen. I work a lot in domestic violence. I understand this. And there are two things, and one that we’ll go on to later. There’s getting back to the observation, because if I heard you say, “I feel abandoned,” what I would want to do is go back to figure out what’s the observation that brings you to that sense. Because actually, if you’re telling yourself you’ve been abandoned, or if somebody has abandoned you, and we can see that in an observation, then I’m guessing you’re feeling a huge amount of misery, grief, and despair, or loneliness, those would be the feelings.
And then later on, when we get to it, I’ll talk about the use of protective force. Because it isn’t all happy, dippy, and let’s all get on our hippie barge and have a great life. Without putting too fine a point in it, shit has happened, shit is happening, and shit’s always going to happen. And that’s the way of the world. What I’m talking about is how we respond to it.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, that’s right. You can try and NVC Hitler, and when you realize it’s not going to work, that’s when you mobilize your armies.
Maria Arpa: That’s a very interesting thing, you could try to work with Hitler, because actually, I don’t know if you’ve seen, I have a copy of it somewhere, Gandhi actually wrote a letter to Hitler.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, it didn’t work.
Maria Arpa: It didn’t work. And actually, if you look at the letter, it’s a shame because there was nothing in there for me that I recognized as NVC that may have generated at least a response.
Lucas Perry: Alright, so we have feelings, and we want to be sure to deconstruct them into simple feelings, which is a skill that one develops. And the thing here that you said that the feelings are like the warning to check the engine of the car, which is a metaphor to say feelings are a signal giving you information about needs being unmet, or at least even the impression or ignorance or delusion that you think your needs are not being met. Whether it’s actually your needs not being met, or a kind of ignorance to your needs being met, either way, they are a signal of that kind of perception.
Maria Arpa: Yes, absolutely. They’re a signal for something. And so when we talk about feelings, what I’m trying to do is capture the real emotion here and name it.
Lucas Perry: And so then there’s a sense that when you communicate needs to other people, they cannot be argued with and they’re also universally shared. So you can recognize the unmet needs of another person as a reflection or a copy and paste of your own needs.
Maria Arpa: So, this is a really interesting part of the conversation when we get to needs because that sits in something called needs-based theory. And Marshall Rosenberg does not have the monopoly on needs-based theory. I mean, most people will have heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There’s a Chilean economist called Manfred Max Neef, who boiled all the needs down to just nine and said that everything else is just ways or satisfiers, to try and meet those needs.
For me, needs-based theory is an art, not a science. And so again, you could go on the cnvc.org website, and you can pull off a list of needs, and you’ll recognize them. Now, when I say it’s an art not a science, on there could be, say, the need for order and structure. Okay, so let’s say I have a need for order and structure.
Lucas Perry: That seems like it needs to be deconstructed.
Maria Arpa: Yes. So I would then say, “Maybe that is a strategy to get to a deeper need of inner peace, but at the moment, that seems to be the very present need for me. I come downstairs, my desk looks like a bomb’s hit it, I’ve got calls to get on, and I just don’t feel like I can get my day started until I’ve created a sense of order around myself.”
It is a simple need in that moment, but the idea is that when we look at the fundamental needs like air, and movement, and shelter, and nutrition, and water, those are universal. I mean, I don’t think anyone could disagree with that. And then we get into more spiritual needs and social needs. Things like discovery and creativity and respect, what a big word, respect is. And the way I like to look at it is, you see, all the arguments we ever have can never be over needs, because I can recognize that need in myself, as well as in others, but they’re over the strategies that we’re trying to use to meet the need that may be at a cost to someone else’s needs, or to my own deeper needs.
So a really good example is if you take our need for air. There’s only one strategy to meet our need for air and that’s to breathe. How many arguments do people have over the need for air and the strategy of breathing?
Lucas Perry: Zero.
Maria Arpa: Right. Now, let’s take a really big word that gets bandied about everywhere, respect. How many arguments do we have over the strategies we’re using to meet a need for respect?
Lucas Perry: A million. And another million.
Maria Arpa: Exactly, exactly. And so the arguments are only ever about strategy. And once you’ve understood it, and practiced it, and embodied that, and you can see the world through that lens, everything changes. And that’s why I can do what I do.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, well, so let’s stick with air. So some people have a strategy for meeting their needs by polluting the air with things. So there’s some strategy to meet needs where the air gets worse, and everyone has this more basic need to breathe clean air, and so the government has to step in and make regulations so that some more basic need is protected. But then so there’s this sense that strategies may harm other people’s needs, and there’s a sense in which sometimes the strategies are incompatible. But there’s this assumption that I think is brought in that the world is sufficiently abundant to meet everyone’s needs and that’s a way, I think, of subverting or getting around this contradictory strategy problem where it would suggest that, okay, oil companies, we can meet your needs some other way, as long as you change your strategy and we’ll help you do that so that we have clean air. Does this make sense?
Maria Arpa: It makes total sense, and I’ve got two sort of parallel answers, maybe even three. So the first one, we’ve got where we have where there are people in the world who don’t mind, or maybe they do mind secretly, doesn’t matter, where there are people in the world who will pollute the air for profit. And we’ve reached that point because we have been using an adversarial system with each other that means that as long as I can turn someone into the enemy, I can justify doing whatever I want. So we create bad people and good people.
So in this adversarial system, one of the things we can do is justify what we’re doing by holding up other people as being in the way. So we’ve created that system and actually what we’re finding, is that the system is failing. I don’t know, I don’t want to predict things, I’m not an economist or a politician, but it seems to me that the system is failing rapidly, more and more. More harm is being visited on the planet than is necessary and lots of people are waking up to that.
So now we’re hitting some kind of tipping point where in giving people things like the internet and all this stuff to self soothe them, actually, a lot of people got educated and started to ask better quality questions about the world they’re living in. And I think there’s a bit of an age difference between us, the wrong way for my end, but people of your generation are definitely asking better quality questions, and they’re less willing to be fobbed off.
So now we’ve got to figure out, how do we change things? And while I understand that from time to time, we need to go out and we need to actually put our foot down and make a protest and make a stand and say, “We’re not putting up with this,” and use protective force, and nonviolent resistance, and civil disobedience, while we need to do those things, we will never change things if we’re only operating at the incident level. If you try to do everything and fix it at the incident level without somebody working long-term on the system… People need to organize, and work out how people like you could get into positions of power.
I mean, I did a lovely piece of work with a Somalian community many years ago, and they’d arrived in the UK as refugees, and when they first arrived, they thought they were only going to be around for a few years and that the war would sort itself out and they’d all go back home. So they kept to themselves and they were very excluded and left out of society, and some of the sons were getting into trouble with the police because they hadn’t really worked out how to live in this society, and after they realized that actually they weren’t going back, “We’re here, this is our home,” what they’ve realized is they needed to start organizing. They needed to become teachers and doctors and lawyers and actually start to help their own community in that way. And I found that very moving and very empowering, and I loved doing the work with them. And the work we were doing was literally around the mothers and the sons. So that’s changing things at a system level.
Lucas Perry: Okay, so the final point here is about making requests. And I think this is a good way to pivot into talking about, you can’t make requests to make systemic change, because the power structures are sufficiently embedded in the incentives are structured such that, “Hey, excuse me, please stop having all that power and money, my needs are not being met,” isn’t going to work.
So let’s talk about the efficacy of NVC and how it’s effectively used. So I think it’s quite obvious how NVC is excellent for personal relationships, where there’s enough emotional investment in one another, and authentic care and community where everyone’s clearly invested in actually trying to NVC if they can. Then the question becomes, for bigger problems in the world like existential risk, if NVC can be effective in social movements, or with policy makers, or with politicians, or with industry or other powerful actors whose incentives aren’t aligned with our needs and who function impersonally. What is your reaction to NVC as applied to systemic problems and impersonal, large, powerful actors who have historically never cared about individual needs?
Maria Arpa: That’s a really interesting question because in my experience of the world, nothing happens without some kind of relationship between people. I mean, you can talk about powerful actors that don’t care, but bring me a powerful actor that doesn’t care and let me have a conversation with them. So for me, I agree that there’s a place for NVC in a group of people who care. There’s also a place for NVC in making the conversation irresistible, finding that place in somebody, because if we work on the basis that there are human beings in the world that have no self-love, or no love at all, if we work on the basis that there are human beings that walk the planet that are just all selfish and dangerous and nothing else, then of course, we’re doomed.
But I don’t believe that, you see, I believe that we are all selfish, greedy, kind, and considerate. And I know this from doing this work in prisons, that often what’s happened is the kind and considerate has just gone to sleep, or it’s paralyzed, or it’s frozen, but it is there to be woken up. And that’s the power of this work, when the person has sufficiently embodied it, has practiced this, and really understands that this involves seeing the world through a different lens. That actually, my role in the work I do, and I work in the front line of some of the worst things that go on in society, my role is to wake up the part of a person that is kind and considerate, and nurture it and bring it to life and grow it and work with it. And that doesn’t happen in one conversation. I don’t do that because I want something, I do that because I generally care about how that person is destroying themselves.
I can give you an example of somebody I met in prison who had been imprisoned for being part of a very, very violent gang, been in violent gangs for most of his life, done a lot of time in prison, and the judge called him evil, and greedy, or whatever. And he came on one of my trainings in around 2013. And he kept coming to talk to me in the breaks, it was like he really wanted some kind of connection or some affirmation or something, and he said, “I did a restorative justice training last month, and I really have to think about the harm I’ve done to my victims.” And I said, “You also have to think about the harm you’ve done to yourself.” And that was the first moment of engagement. And actually, now this man will be out of prison in I think 2022. He has put himself through a therapeutic prison for six years. I’ve never seen a life change to such an extent or such a degree. We’re thinking about employing him when he comes out of prison.
And that’s the thing is, it’s how do you engage a person to look at themselves and to look at how they may be destroying themselves in the pursuit of whatever it is they think they need. So, bring me somebody who is a powerful actor, who doesn’t care about anyone else, and we’ll open the conversation. That’s how I see it. The reason that I can do this and I can have these conversations is I don’t have an agenda for another human being. I simply want to understand what is going on, what the motivations are, what the needs are, and work out with that person, is that strategy actually working for you? And if you’re meeting your need for power or growth or structure or whatever, is it costing you in some other needs that’s actually killing you slowly?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, I mean, I think that, for example, at risk of becoming too esoteric, non-dual wisdom traditions, I think would see this kind of violent satisfaction of one own’s needs is also a form of, first of all self harm, because your needs extend beyond what the conceptual egoistic mind would expect to be your needs. I’m thinking of someone who owns a cigarette company, and who’s selling them and knows that he’s basically helping to lie about the science of it, and also promoting that kind of harm. There’s a sense in which it’s spiritually corrupting, and leads to the violation of other needs that you have when you engage in the satisfaction of your needs through these toxic methodologies.
Maria Arpa: Absolutely, and it’s a kind of addiction, it’s a kind of habit, or obsession. One of the things that I’m really interested in is, at the end of the day, when we get to the request part of NVC, the real request is change. Whatever it is I’m asking for, whether I’m making a request of myself or the person in front of me, I’m requesting change. And change isn’t easy for most people. People need to go through a change process. And so it’s not just about the use of NVC as an isolated tool that is going to change the world, it is about contextualizing the use of NVC within other structures and systems like change processes, understanding group dynamics, understanding psychology, and all of those things, and then it has its place.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, it has a place amongst many other tools in which it becomes quite effective, I imagine. I suppose my only reaction here then is, you have this perspective, like, “Bring me someone in one of these positions of power, or who has sufficient leverage on something that looks to be extremely impersonal, and let’s have a conversation,” those conversations don’t happen. And no one could bring you that person really, and the person probably wouldn’t want to even talk to you, or anyone really who they know is coming at them from some kind of paradigm like this.
Maria Arpa: Oh, I don’t know about that. I mean, in the work I do, it’s a very small world, I’m not trying to affect global change. I would love to, but I’m not. But in the prison work I was doing, we managed to get the prison’s minister to come and see the work, and I managed to then have a meeting with him. And I managed to convince him on one or two things that had an effect at the time. So I don’t know that these things don’t happen. I think it’s about the courage and determination of the people to get those meetings, not coming from having an agenda for that person, but coming from really wanting to understand what the thinking is.
Again, in my experience, having been around the block a few times, the people making policies would be absolutely horrified if they saw how those policies are being delivered on the ground. There’s a huge gap between people sitting somewhere making a policy, and then how it gets translated down hierarchical systems, and then how it gets delivered. I like to think that policy makers aren’t sitting around the table going, “How can we make life worse for everybody, because we hate everybody.” Policy makers are sometimes very misguided and detached and unable to connect, but I don’t think policy makers are sitting there going, “We hate everybody, let’s just make life difficult.” They really genuinely believe they’re solving problems. But the issue with solving problems is that we’re addicted to strategy before understanding the needs.
Lucas Perry: We’re addicted to strategy before understanding needs.
Maria Arpa: Yeah. Our whole mentality is, “Problem? Fix it.”
Lucas Perry: So I mean, the idea here then, is that the recognition of needs, as well as bringing in some other assumptions that we can talk about shortly, and relaxing this adversarial communicative paradigm into a needs-based one where you take people on good faith and you recognize the universality of human needs, and there’s this authentic care and empathy which is born of, not something which you’re fabricating, but something which participating in actually serves some kind of need that you actually already have to have authentic human connection, or maybe that boils down to love. And so NVC can be an expression of love in which NVC becomes something spiritual. And then that this kind of process is what leads to a reexamination of strategy.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so the idea is that because we have a problem, fix it mentality, we are skipping over the main part which is to sit with the pain of not knowing. So what we do is we jump to strategy, whether that’s in our daily lives, “I feel bad, I’ll go and get a haircut or buy myself a new wardrobe, or I’ve got a problem, and it’s going to create a big PR problem, so I’m going to do this,” and what we’re missing is the richness of understanding that when you do that, you’re acting out of fear, you’re jumping, because you’ve got triggered or stimulated in some way, and you’re acting out of fear to prevent yourself from the feelings that you don’t believe you’re going to be able to cope with.
And what I’m saying is that we understand, we get to the observation, we identify, is this an issue? Is it not an issue? And then we go within, in a group, and we sit with the pain, the mourning, of the mistakes we’ve made, or the problem we haven’t solved, or the world we’ve created, whatever it is, and it’s in sitting together with that, and being willing to say, “I don’t know what the answer is right now, or today. Maybe I just need to breathe,” in being able to do that, we reach our creativity.
So we’re coming out of a place of absolute creativity and love, not jumping out of fear. And there’s a tremendous difference in operating in the world in this way. But it requires us to be willing to be vulnerable, and I think that’s what I think you’re talking about when you talk about people being detached. They’re so far away from their vulnerability, and when people are so far away from their vulnerability, they can do terrible things to other people or themselves.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, I mean, this is a sense of vulnerability in which, it’s a vulnerability of the recognition and sensitivity of your needs, but there’s a kind of stable foundation and security in that vulnerability. It’s a kind of vulnerability of self-knowing, it seems.
Maria Arpa: It’s vulnerability, plus trust.
Lucas Perry: It seems to me then, NVC’s place in the repertoire of an effective altruist, or someone interested in systemic change or existential risk, is that it becomes a tool in your toolkit for having a kind of discourse with people that may be surprising. I definitely believe in the capacity for enlightened or awakened people to exist as an example of what might be possible. And so if you come at someone with NVC who’s never experienced NVC before, I agree with you that that is where, “Oh, just have the conversation with the person,” might lead to some kind of transformative change. Because if you exist as a transformative example of what is possible, then there is the capacity for other people to recognize the goodness in you that is something that they would want and that leads to peace and freedom. NVC is obviously not the perfect solution to conversation, or the perfect solution to the problem of strategy, for example, and I guess, broadly, strategy can also be understood as game theory, where you’re going to have lots of different actors with different risk tolerances and incentives, but it is a much, much better way of communicating, full stop.
Maria Arpa: I notice I feel a slight discomfort when you call NVC a tool, because I don’t see it as a tool, I see it as a way of life.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, I hear that.
Maria Arpa: When I’m in that frame, because I look at the person I was 20 years ago, and I look at the person I am now and I see the transformation, but it’s because of the embodiment of something. It’s because it’s really helped me to look at all aspects of my life. It’s helped me to understand things that I wasn’t understanding, it helped me to wake up and become functional, and mindful, and all of those things, but that’s who I am now. I mean, I’m not saying that I’m some perfect person, and of course, occasionally, the shadows always there, but I’ve learned not to act on my shadow. I’ve learned to play with it. But when I am that embodiment or that person, then I’m bringing a new perspective into any conversation I have. And sometimes people find that disarming in an engaging way.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, that’s right. It can be disarming and engaging. I like that you use the word waking up. We just had a podcast with a former Buddhist monk and we talked a lot about awakening. And I agree with you that calling it a tool is an instrumentalisation of it, which lends itself to the problem-solving mindset, which is kind of adversarial with relation to the object which is being problem solved, which in this case, could be a person. So if it becomes a kind of non-conceptual embodied knowing or being, then there is the spiritual transformation and growth that is born of adopting this upgraded way of being. If you download the software of NVC, things will run much better.
Maria Arpa: So then I wanted to comment on the strategy. NVC is a way of unlocking something, okay. Now once I’ve unlocked it, and once I’ve got to the part where we’re now looking at strategies that will satisfy needs, now, we might need a different way of conversing. Now it might be very robust, it might be from the point of negotiation, and that negotiation may be very gentle and sensitive, but it can also be very boundaried. And so yeah, NVC for me is the way to unlock something, to bring people into a consciousness that what we’re going to do is, what’s the point of making strategies if we don’t understand the needs we’re trying to meet, and then using those needs as the measurement for whether the strategy is going to satisfy or not.
Lucas Perry: Okay. And I think I do also want to put a flag here, and you can tell me if this is wrong, that even those negotiations can fail. And that comes back to this kind of assumption that the world has sufficient abundance, that everyone’s needs can be met. So I mean, my perspective is I think that the negotiations can fail, and that when they fail, then something else is needed.
Maria Arpa: So if the negotiation has failed, in my experience, it’s because somebody wanted something, even if it was just speed, that wasn’t available. And so a really big deal for me is understanding where we want to get to, having that shared vision that we’re all trying to get to this place, and working towards it at the speed and tolerances of the whole group, and yet not allowing it to go at the slowest person’s pace. And that’s an art. There’s a real skill to, “We’re not going at the slowest person’s pace, but we’re also not going to take people out of their tolerances.”
Lucas Perry: But it seems like often with so many different people, tolerances are all over the place and can be strictly incompatible.
Maria Arpa: So that means we didn’t do enough work, and our shared vision isn’t right, and maybe we need to go back and look at the deeper needs. One of the things I talk about in this work is you’re never going to undo 30 years of poor communication in one conversation. It’s a process, and what I’m looking for is progress. And sometimes progress is literally just the agreement that the person will have another conversation with me, rather than slam the door in my face.
I’ve done neighbor disputes where I have knocked on someone’s door, they haven’t responded to the letters or the phone calls, and I have knocked on someone’s door, and I’ve got 30 seconds before they slam the door in my face and tell me, in no uncertain terms, tell me to whatever. And so for me at that moment, just then giving me two minutes, and then just getting to the agreement, I’m not going to try and do any business with you right now, just to get to the agreement that you will have another conversation with me, is progress.
And so it’s really about expectations and how quickly we think we can undo things or change things. And change processes are complex. How many times did you wake up and say, “I want to get fit or eat healthier food or lose weight or stop smoking or drink less,” or whatever it was, and then did you execute it straight away? No, you fluctuated. You probably relapsed, and relapse is a really important part of change. But then do we give up? Do we say, “Well that’s it, it’s over, we can’t negotiate,” or do we say, “Well, okay, that didn’t work. What else could we try?”
So in my world, and what I’ve understood, is the art, or the trick to life is not constantly searching to get your needs met. The trick to life is understanding that I have many needs, and on any day, week, month, year, some go met, and some go unmet, and I’m okay with that. It’s just looking on balance. Because if the aim of the game is to go, “Yeah, my need for this, this, this and this are all not being met, so therefore, I’m going to just make it my mission to get my needs met,” you’re still in the adversarial paradigm.
So I have lots of needs that go unmet, and you know what, it’s fine. It doesn’t mean I can’t express gratitude for what I do have. It doesn’t mean I don’t love everybody and everything in the way it is. It’s fine. I have no expectation that all my needs will get met.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, so you’re talking here about some of your experience, which I think boils down to some axioms or assumptions that one makes in NVC that I think are quite wholesome and beneficial. And I’ll just read off a bunch of them here and if you have any reactions or want to highlight any of them, then you can.
So the first is that all human beings have capacity for compassion and empathy. I believe in that. Behavior stems from trying to meet needs, so everything that we do is an expression of just trying to meet needs. You said earlier there are no bad or good people, they are just people trying to meet needs. Needs are universal, shared, and never in conflict. I think that one’s maybe 99.9% true. I don’t know how psychopaths fit in there, like Jeffrey Dahmer, fits in.
Maria Arpa: Well, I mean, I’ve worked with people in prisons who have been labeled as psychopaths, and I have on that very clear basis that people are selfish, greedy, kind and considerate, but the kind and considerate is either not on show, not available, has been put in a box, paralyzed, not today, I have woken up the kind and considerate.
Lucas Perry: You don’t think that there are people that are sufficiently neurodivergent and neuroatypical, that they don’t fit into these frameworks? It seems clearly physically possible.
Maria Arpa: It only runs out when I run out of patience, love, and tolerance to try. It only ends at that point, when I run out of patience, love and tolerance to try, and there might be many reasons why I would say, “I’m no longer going to try,” don’t get me wrong. We’re not asking everybody to just carry on regardless. But yeah, when I say I’ve had enough, and I don’t want to do this anymore, that’s when it, the trouble is we do that I think far too quickly with most people.
Lucas Perry: Yeah. All right. And so kind of moving a bit along here. The world has enough resources for meeting everyone’s basic needs, we mentioned this.
Maria Arpa: I do want to just comment on the world is abundant, and it has enough abundance to meet everybody’s needs.
Lucas Perry: Yeah.
Maria Arpa: The issue is, if it hasn’t, what’s the conversation we’re going to have? Or do we just want to inflict more and more unnecessary human suffering on each other? If, as is predicted, there’s going to be climate change on a scale that renders parts of the planet uninhabitable and there’s going to be mass migration, what are we going to do? Are we going to just keep killing them? Are we going to have a race to the bottom?
Lucas Perry: Are we going to leave it to power dynamics?
Maria Arpa: Yeah, or are we going to say, “Actually, things are getting tighter now, so we need to figure out how to collaborate so that we don’t kill each other.”
Lucas Perry: And then, so I was saying, if feelings point to needs being met or unmet, I would argue this is more like feelings point to needs being met or unmet, or the perception that they are being met or unmet.
Maria Arpa: So I just say, being able to identify the feeling and name the emotion is an alarm system. It’s our body’s natural alarm system, and we can use that to our advantage.
Lucas Perry: And I’ll just finish with the last one here that I think is related to the spiritual path, which says that the most direct path to peace is through self connection. So through self connection to needs, one becomes, I think, increasingly empathetic and compassionate, which leads to a deepening and an expression of NVC, which leads to more peace.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, the first marriage is this one. The first marriage is the one between I and I, and if that one ain’t working, nothing else is going to work.
Lucas Perry: All right. So can we engage in an NVC exercise now as an example of the format, so moving from observations to feelings to needs to request?
Maria Arpa: Okay, so I think it would be really useful if you could tell me about a situation that’s on your mind right now. And Marshall Rosenberg would say, “Can you tell me in 40 words or less what’s alive in you right now?”
Lucas Perry: So let’s NVC about this morning, then? I was late, and I kept you waiting for me, and I also showed up to the Zoom call late because… I guess the because doesn’t matter. Unless that’s part of the chronology of what happened. But yeah, I showed up to the Zoom call late and then my microphone wasn’t working, so I had to get another microphone. And I feel… how do I feel? I feel bad that I mean, bad isn’t the right word, though, right?
Maria Arpa: Mm-hmm (affirmative). But you just say it, just say it, and then we’ll go over it together.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, so I guess I regret and I feel bad that I wasn’t fully prepared, and then it took me 15, 20 minutes to get things started. And this probably relates to some need I have the podcasts go well, but also that I not damage my relationship with guests, which relates to some kind of need about… I mean, this probably goes all the way down to something like a need for love or self-love, very quickly, it would seem. And yeah, it’s unclear that we’ll have another conversation like this anytime soon, so it’s unclear to me what the kinds of requests are, though maybe there’s some requests for understanding and compassion for my failure to completely show up and arrive for the interview perfectly. How’s that for a start?
Maria Arpa: Yeah, it’s really very sweet, and so I’d love to just tell you some of what I’ve heard, first. So I heard you say that you’re feeling bad because you turned up late and unprepared for our interview, and that feeling bad or regretful is linked to some kind of need, at the end of the day you went there, and you said, “It’s probably a need for self-love.” And it’s hard to know what a request would be like, but I guess what I heard you say is you’d like to request some understanding.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, that’s right.
Maria Arpa: Before I respond to you, I would really love to just break down how you did observation, feeling, need, request, and then work with you a little on each of those. Would that be okay?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, that sounds good.
Maria Arpa: So the biggest judgment in your observation was the word late. It takes a bit of understanding, but who defines late?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, it started 15 minutes after the agreed upon time, is more of a concrete observation.
Maria Arpa: Well, a concrete observation actually, is that we got online at the time we agreed, and we didn’t start the interview until 15 minutes later.
Lucas Perry: Well, I was five minutes late to getting to the Zoom call.
Maria Arpa: Okay. Well, yeah, that word late again.
Lucas Perry: Sorry, I arrived five minutes…
Maria Arpa: After the agreed time.
Lucas Perry: Thank you.
Maria Arpa: Because late can be a huge weapon for self punishment. So the observation is, you came on the call five minutes after the agreed time, and we didn’t begin the interview until 15 minutes after the agreed time. So unprepared, late, and all of those things, they’re what you’re telling yourself. It’s part of the story, because from my perspective, since the example you gave includes me in that narrative, from my perspective, we didn’t have an agreement about what to expect at 10:00 AM your time, 3:00 PM my time. So how do I know you were unprepared? I’ve never done this before with you.
Lucas Perry: Okay.
Maria Arpa: Does that make sense? Can you see that you put a huge amount of judgment into what you thought was your observation, when in actual fact, who knows?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, so introducing other observations now here, is the observation that, I believe I pushed this back twice.
Maria Arpa: Once.
Lucas Perry: I pushed this back once?
Maria Arpa: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Lucas Perry: Okay, so I pushed this back once. And then there was also this long period where I did not get back to you about scheduling after we had an initial conversation. So the feelings are things that need to be deconstructed. They’re around messiness, or disorganization, or not doing a good job, which are super synthetic in an evaluative, and would need to be super deconstructed, but that’s what I have right now.
Maria Arpa: So on some level, you didn’t meet your own standards.
Lucas Perry: No, I did not meet my own standards.
Maria Arpa: Right. So on some level, you didn’t meet your own standards, and that’s giving rise to a number of superficial feelings, like you’re feeling bad and guilty, and all of those things. And I can only guess, I’ve told myself, but perhaps you’re feeling regret, possibly some shame, and I don’t know why the word loneliness comes up for me. Isolation or loneliness, disconnection, something around, that you’ve screwed up, and now you have to sit in there and now there’s some shame and some regret and some embarrassment. Embarrassment, that’s it. I’m telling myself the feeling is embarrassment.
Lucas Perry: I’m trying to focus and see how accurate these are.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, and I could be completely wrong. I can only guess.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, I mean, you’re trying to guide me towards explaining my own feelings.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so does anything resonate with embarrassment, or shame, or regret, or mourning.
Lucas Perry: Mostly regret. This kind of loneliness thing is interesting, because I think it’s related to the feeling of… If there was sufficient understanding and compassion and self-love, then these feelings wouldn’t arise because there would be understanding. And so the loneliness is born out of the self-rejection of the events as they transpired. And so there’s this need for wholeness, which is a kind of self-love and understanding and compassion and knowledge. It’s just a aligned state of being, and I’ve become unaligned by creating this evaluative story that’s full of judgment. Because all this could happen and I could feel totally fine, right? That roughly captures the feelings.
Maria Arpa: Okay. And then it really resonated for me and I heard you say that this need for wholeness, and definitely for understanding and love, and a deep need for mutuality.
Lucas Perry: Yeah. There’s a sense that I can’t fully meet you when I haven’t fully accepted myself for what I have done. Or if there’s a kind of self consciousness around the events and how it has impacted you.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so I’m telling myself that we made an agreement, and actually, part of it is a story that you’re telling yourself, and part of it has some reality in it, that you didn’t meet the terms of our agreement.
Lucas Perry: Yeah.
Maria Arpa: And then what that’s doing to you is, when you didn’t meet the terms of the agreement, I’m telling myself that now what happens to you is you worry, I think that’s the word. Ah, that’s it, maybe the feeling’s worry, or anxiety, that then any connection that we might have made is disconnecting or breaking, or we’re losing mutuality, because I may be now looking at you differently for not having met the terms of the agreement.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, and there’s also a level of self-rejection. And someone who is self-rejecting is in contradiction and cannot fully connect with someone else. If you find that yourself is unlovable or that you do not love yourself, then it’s like impossible to love someone else. So I think there’s a sense also, then of, if you’re creating a bad narrative and that’s leading to a sense of self-rejection, then there’s an inability to fully be with the other person. So then I think that’s why you were pointing out to the sense of loneliness, because this kind of self-rejection leads to isolation and inability to fully meet the person as they are.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so we went over the observation, we got to some of the feelings, we got to some of the needs, now do you have a request? And I think I heard you say you have a request for understanding.
Lucas Perry: Yeah, understanding and compassion, probably mostly from myself, but also from you.
Maria Arpa: Yeah, so I’m wondering if you’d like me to respond to that request now. Would that be helpful for you?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, sure.
Maria Arpa: So I guess when I hear your request for understanding and compassion, and that you’re also recognizing you need to give it to yourself, and that’s a relief for me that you know you need to give it to yourself, and yet on some level, we do have a situation over an agreement that was broken. I would love for you to be able to hear where I am. And I’m just wondering, would you be willing to hear where I am in that, to support you in your request?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, and probably some need for love in the sense of, I mean, there are different kinds of love. So whatever kind of love exists between you and I, as human beings that is coworker love, or colleague love, or whatever kind of relationship we have, I don’t know how to explain our relationship, but whatever kind of love is appropriate in that context.
Maria Arpa: So I guess where I’m coming from, is, I feel deeply privileged and honored to be asked to do this podcast. I’ve heard some of your other podcasts, and I think they’re masterpieces. So to be invited to do this at all and for us to have met and for you to have actually said, “Yeah, let’s go ahead and do this,” went a long way for me to believe in myself as well.
So you may be having your own moment of self punishment, and so did I. “What happens if he doesn’t like me at the end of our interview, and doesn’t want to do it?” And in terms of our agreement, as far as I’m concerned, you got online roughly at the time we said, and I have no idea, we didn’t have a tacit agreement that the interview then starts at, and so in terms of being alongside you while you make preparations and whatever, actually, it helped me to see you as human. So it actually increased my love for you.
Lucas Perry: Oh, nice.
Maria Arpa: Because I saw in that first meeting, you were kind of interviewing me and seeing if there was suitability for a podcast. And of course, I know I know my stuff, right. That’s not the issue. But there was a sense of me wanting to be on best behavior. But now I come to this call, and there you were just being human and expressing it, and I was able to say a few things to you. And I felt that 15 minutes was very connecting, it was very connecting for me. And so I just wonder when you hear that, does it change anything for you?
Lucas Perry: Yeah, I feel much better. I feel more capacity to connect with you and I appreciate the honesty and transition of how you felt with regards to the first time we talked where, because I couldn’t find any of your content online, so I didn’t really know anything about you, so we had this first conversation where you felt almost as if there was kind of evaluative relationship going on, which was then I guess, dissolved by having this conversation in particular, but also the beginning of the podcast where I was being human and my microphone wasn’t working, and my electricity was out this morning and things weren’t working out. So yeah, I appreciate that. I feel much better and warm and more capacity for self-love and connection. So thanks.
Maria Arpa: Yeah.
Lucas Perry: I think that means the NVC was successful.
Maria Arpa: Yeah. And then just to add one thing, during the interview, I heard you say something like, “I don’t know what my requests would be because the opportunity for us to connect again like this,” or whatever, you said something about that we probably wouldn’t speak to each other again in a hurry. I actually felt really sad when I heard that. I felt such sadness, “Oh, no, I’ve connected with Lucas now.” So I hope that there’ll be other opportunities to just chat or stay in touch or whatever, because there’s something about you that I feel really resonates. And I love where you’re coming from, and I love what you’re trying to do. It’s really important.
Lucas Perry: Well, thank you, that’s really sweet. I appreciate it.
Maria Arpa: Thank you. And look at that, we’re bang on time.
Lucas Perry: So that means you escaped question eight, which is my criticisms of NVC.
Maria Arpa: We could come back and add that on another time, but I can’t do it now. If you want to do another bit, we can do another bit. I’m really happy to do that.
Lucas Perry: Yeah. Great. So as we wrap up, if people want to follow you or to learn more about NVC, or the Center for Nonviolent Communication, where are the best places to follow you or get more information or check out more of Marshall’s work?
Maria Arpa: So obviously, CNVC has a website which is CNVC, Center for Nonviolent Communication, .org. That’s your first port of call. Marshall’s books are published by Puddle Dancer Press. I know Meiji very well. I know him reasonably well, and he’s a really wonderful guy, so buy some books from Puddle Dancer Press, because Marshall’s books are amazing. There are 700 NVC trainers across the world, and you can find those on the website if you go to the right bit and search. So if you want to find someone local in your area, and they all work differently and specialize in different things. If you put NVC into Facebook, you will find countless NVC pages. And if you’re looking for me, Google my name, Maria Arpa, and I will come up. Thank you.
Lucas Perry: All right. Thanks, Maria.