Nonviolent communication (NVC) is very dear to my heart since I discovered it a few years ago. It is possibly the single, biggest strategy that has ever helped improve the quality of my life and connections with other people and with myself. Learning more about it has been my other big passion besides my work with money, financial advice and striving myself to get conscious around money. I practise it also because I realise I am very conditioned to think like a 'jackal' and my desire is to be more giraffe like, which Marshall Rosenberg said is our true nature.
Marshall Rosenberg, founder of Nonviolent communication , said " At an early age, most of us were taught to speak and think "Jackal."This is language from the head. It is a way of mentally classifying people into varying shades of good and bad, right and wrong. Ultimately, it provokes defensiveness, resistance, and counter-attack. "Giraffe" bids us to speak from the heart, to talk about what is going on for us-without judging others".
In October, 2015 I attended an NVC IIT (international intensive training) for 9 days in beautiful Sinaia, Romania. 'Intensive' it was! It was also a wonderful immersion experience - learning NVC in community. While I was there, I talked to a group one evening, as an offering (offerings were encouraged after dinner) about financial integrity, NVC and being conscious around money. I had very strong clarity after the talk, realising then that I would like to run workshops as I really enjoyed teaching people about money, exploring deep rooted beliefs around money, loosening some of these beliefs where needed and replacing them with more empowering ones to allow for greater choice and freedom.
That evening, we talked about our money stories-what we had perhaps heard or absorbed in our childhood as messages around money; typically from early conversations we overheard our parents have when we were young - around 5 to 7 years old.
Some participants said their parents always had enough and were comfortable, there was never any stress around money. Others said they heard 'money is evil', 'money comes from blood, sweat and tears', 'money makes the world go round' and 'money doesn't fall from trees'. It was interesting to see the range of responses- from negative money stories to really positive ones.
We talked about how money is only a strategy to meet other needs - needs like safety, security, freedom, autonomy, independence among others. These are universal human needs that we all share. And there is an abundance of strategies to meet human needs. For example, if there is a strong need to contribute one can volunteer with a charity instead of donating money. When we connect with underlying needs, a shift happens that is very liberating; strategies are more available, they seem to come with ease as we are no longer so attached to a particular way of how the need can be met.
We also talked about financial integrity or being conscious about money; what that meant- spending consciously in line with our values, about scarcity beliefs (that there is not enough) around money. Interesting questions were thrown at me such as "what is your money belief?". " Sufficient money allows for choice & freedom", I responded, without much hesitation. I have spend much time thinking about my journey with money, and freeing myself to have choice, especially in the last 3 years.
A couple of days after the mini workshop, a participant shared her thoughts; she had decided to ask her boss for a raise and planned to go travelling; she planned to record all her expenses and make a plan to earn more income whilst cutting back on needless expenses. I felt like a proud mother - it was very rewarding for me to hear her new found clarity and I was excited about helping spark her journey in being more conscious with money.
Often, I find people come to me for an initial consultation (that first free meeting with an IFA) with less clarity than they would like about their future financial goals; I really enjoy asking questions like "What is really important to you?". Once a conscious connection between values and spending/earning/investing is made, it is very powerful.
After numerous money related conversations with people, thanks to my profession as a financial adviser, I have noticed strong judgements about rich people or poor people. Or the feeling that money is icky. Or guilt about having more money than others or shame about having 'too' little. In NVC, the word 'too' is usually a clue to an evaluation rather than a neutral observation.
Although we think there are people with money and people without it, the real truth is, money is a part of everyone’s life from the poorest peasant to the wealthiest industrialist, the way we direct the money that comes through our lives defines us. - Lynne Twist
Nonviolent communication is about digging deeper - beyond thoughts to what is underneath - feelings and needs. It is about using empathy and self compassion to maintain connection whilst exploring our feelings, fears, values and needs then being creative with strategies we use to meet our needs, so we can help make our lives wonderful.
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