So I must admit that I’m a huge fan of Seinfeld and was recently watching the episode about Festivus, which is the holiday made up by George’s dad, Frank Costanza – “A Festivus for the rest of us”. One of the rituals for this holiday is the “airing of grievances”. As I was laughing (for literally the 50th time probably) at Frank yelling at his table full of Festivus guests, “I got a lotta problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!”, I was thinking about the different ways we communicate.
It seems sometimes we are either not communicating at all what we feel or need, or we are doing it a la Frank Costanza, yelling and making accusations. It’s funny to watch on a sitcom, not quite so funny to experience in real life and obviously not super helpful for building positive connections with people.
Last year I was introduced in more depth to the work of Marshall Rosenberg Ph.D. I’ve listed his book on my resource page under Communication; it’s entitled “Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life”. His model is based on the idea that we are all going about our lives trying to get our needs met, and there are more effective and less effective ways to do this. One of the major pieces of communicating effectively with others is being aware of what we need and how we feel.
I can’t really do it justice here as far as explaining the whole model, but if you have a minute take a look at this page, www.cnvc.org/Training/feelings-inventory to get a sense of how many words there are to describe how we feel when our needs are met or when our needs are not met. As you can see it goes beyond sad, mad, and glad! Plus there’s a link on the page to a list of needs. Even more amazing! There are 29 different ways of describing our need for connection.
I’ve found it helpful to have the lists of feelings and needs handy to look at and check in with myself and with how I’m doing in different situations with people. Then the next step is to actually express how I feel and what I need. It’s easier said than done! However, even just having a few more words is a great place to start. Or one day I might just celebrate Festivus and air my grievances. But then I’d also have to do the “feats of strength”…
Here’s to learning how to communicate with peaceful self-awareness.