Nonviolent Communication
June 14, 2013 12:17 AM   Subscribe

Nonviolent communication has gotten me past a lot of dead ends in conversations, and now I can't help but see how useful it could be in a lot conversations in a lot of threads. I was thinking maybe Metatalk could benefit from a general discussion on the nonviolent communication process and how it works.

Here's the Wikipedia article.
posted by aniola to Etiquette/Policy at 12:17 AM (281 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

I trust anything endorsed by scary frowny Al Pacino with puppets man!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


The part that I've personally found most useful is summarized by Wikipedia as
Observation: the facts (what we are seeing, hearing, or touching) as distinct from our evaluation of meaning and significance. NVC discourages static generalizations. It is said that "When we combine observation with evaluation others are apt to hear criticism and resist what we are saying." Instead, a focus on observations specific to time and context is recommended.
posted by aniola at 12:20 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Talk to eyeballkid about it.
posted by adamvasco at 12:54 AM on June 14, 2013


I think it's worthwhile to discuss theories and strategies of communication and how they apply in online discussions, but I also feel like it's easier to convey distilled information sometimes (not to dumb down the theory behind things, but as a way to quickly access and refresh that info). For instance, I first heard about the HALT concept (for our purposes, trying to be more aware of your words, or even avoiding posting, when Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) here on Metafilter, from Jessamyn.

I've also thought many times of how John Gottman's "four horsemen" of negative communication styles (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling) that predict divorce can also be applied as predictors of shitstorms in online discussions... with some tweaking, obviously.

I would be interested in seeing an example of a hypothetical Mefi exchange that embodies the idea of a "focus on observations specific to time and context" versus combining "observation with evaluation."
posted by taz (staff) at 12:57 AM on June 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I used to read a blog and the author got into NVC and talked about it in a few of her posts. I didn't get it then and I'm still not getting it from the Wikipedia page. It doesn't seem to me like something easy to pick up without taking a class on it or something, other than a few basic premises like using "I think" and "I feel." Is there an NVC for dummies somewhere? (Not a whole book please, just a page?) It sounds very complicated. Like, I could try not to use sarcasm in my speech (not saying that's part of NVC, just using an example) but if I have to think over what I want to say against 50 different criteria, it's going to be exhausting.

I'm not sure I agree with assumption 2 from the Wikipedia page: "Our world offers sufficient resources for meeting everyone's basic needs." If "our world" means the people we are speaking to in NVC, perhaps. But our planet as a whole? Not at all.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:31 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was thinking maybe Metatalk could benefit from a general discussion on the nonviolent communication process and how it works.

I can see why you feel this way. I felt the same about the nonviolent communication process, but I've found this Mac is real value because of all its built-in software and capabilities.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:41 AM on June 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


Googling "non violent communication for dummies" yields links to various books or workbooks and this link. Like the Wikipedia, it talks a lot about what NVC is, but offers few examples of it.

It sounds very woo at first glance.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am not familiar with NVC. I have had a college class on negotiation and conflict management and I have a track record of finding win-win, amicable solutions in the face of difficult social conflict. On a quick skim, I think some of the ideas here are very useful. But some of the listed tenets are the direct opposite of what I know works. For example, the stated idea that there is no actual conflict in the world, conflict grows out of communicating poorly. What I was taught, and have found effective, is that conflict is situational, very much real (but rooted in circumstance), and usually not a product of the other person "being an asshole." I was taught that negotiation is difficult when there is a very narrow range of answers that provide a win-win solution. In such cases, both sides tend to feel the other side is "being difficult." It helps to realize the situation is difficult and stop blaming other people.

As a very simple example, if widget A can be made for under $4 and people get enough value out of it that it is perfectly acceptable to buy it for up to $10, you can come to an agreeable conclusion anywhere between $4 and $10 and both sides benefit. It's all good and it is easy to find a price point where both parties are very happy. If widget B takes $4 to make but only provides enough value for people to buy it at $4.25 or less, it is going to be much tougher to make that deal. You just do not have a lot of maneuvering room. If you drop the price more than a few cents, the manufacturer has no reason to play. If you raise it more than a few cents, the target market has no reason to play. Instead of saying "You are an asshole for not being willing to pay $5 for B when you think it is NBD to pay that much for A," it helps to realize B just does not provide $5 worth of value. Either tweak it so it provides more value, tweak the manufacturing process so it costs less to provide the same value, or accept that the price point is simply not very flexible (and therefore can be profitable but will never be hugely profitable) for actual real world reasons, not because either side is "being difficult."

On the other hand, phrases like "I think" or "I feel" can be a good and simple practice for reducing conflict. Any time you are tempted to start with an accusation that includes the word "You", back up a step and see if you can rephrase it and start with "I think" or "I feel." In most cases (assuming a good faith effort here and genuine intent to reduce conflict), that alone will do a lot to de-escalate tension. Sticking with observation of facts without too many evaluations is also a generally useful principle, especially for hot button topics. An example might be stating "X person has sex on average 5 times per week, in comparison to the national average of blah. That is higher than average." instead of using language like "stud", "manwhore," etc.
posted by Michele in California at 2:04 AM on June 14, 2013 [24 favorites]


The assumptions of NVC seem utterly incorrect:

All human beings share the same needs.

For air, water, and food. Individual needs - and capacities - are rather much more diverse beyond the basics. Not everyone has the same capacity for or need of compassion, acceptance, etc.

Like, I could try not to use sarcasm in my speech (not saying that's part of NVC, just using an example) but if I have to think over what I want to say against 50 different criteria, it's going to be exhausting.

And certainly less entertaining. NVC would seem to be a technique for getting people to agree with you which is not really the point of every conversation. It seems coercive and manipulative - making it a fine concept for parenting toddlers - but for interaction between adult humans, it's a too bland and timid and unbecoming of the English language.
posted by three blind mice at 2:05 AM on June 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am a little bit cynical about NVC after being around certain anarchists and observing how a sufficiently motivated person can be spectacularly passive-aggressive in almost any medium, including quiet, meditative circle-time reflections.
It does also seem to me that many aspects of NVC as conventionally taught are far more culturally specific than is acknowledged. Or even subculturally specific - for example, in guess culture environments, saying 'My need for X is not being met' comes across as fairly agressive. I read Rosen's book, and almost none of the speech-acts he describes as nonviolent would wash in a UK context; they'd sound at best laughable and at worst sinister.
That said, I'm interested in the idea of NVC, or of a form of communication which took ideals of nonviolence into account, and if users have specific examples of how they've made it work for them, particularly in non-US cultures, I'd really like to hear them.
posted by Acheman at 2:07 AM on June 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


In my experience, non-violent communication works best when the person engaging in it is the authority in the room, and there is a hierarchy of some sort. It can disarm an individual who is very agitated, but part of it may mean friendly fire for people in the room - emotionally speaking - and it often centers people who are willing to kick up the most fuss, which has gender and racial implications for who gets the attention.

I'm very good at earning the trust and shaping the thoughts of people, but it's a largely one-on-one process because part of communicating with someone who is aggressive is meeting them where they are and communicating clearly without invoking shame or guilt in the other person. It's not easy, and I worry sometimes about ideas like non-violent communication because it seems like it leaves invisible who disproportionately gets attention and centered, while placing the responsibility for giving the attention to people who are already expected to sideline their own emotional reality for the sake of communicating with others in the hope that will foster change.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:12 AM on June 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


For instance, I first heard about the HALT concept (for our purposes, trying to be more aware of your words, or even avoiding posting, when Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) here on Metafilter, from Jessamyn.

There would be like 8 posts and 42 comments in total if mefites posted when they weren't hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I'm seriously thinking about a pony request to change the site's name to 'halt'.

This motherfucker right here...he's always hungry! I loves me my niacin!
posted by hal_c_on at 2:39 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Just so you all know, I practice nonviolent eating.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:40 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

I mock, but I have tried to become more gentle over the years. So.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:41 AM on June 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I have been trained in non-violent communication. I won't say I'm the best at it, or even always use it, but I think it can be really great for communicating difficult things.

That said, the Wikipedia article about it seems a little woo and overbroad to me. It might be useful to look only at specifics, such as "communication that blocks compassion", and the four components.

Here's how it could work in context of internet forums.

1. Moralistic judgments implying wrongness or badness on the part of people who don't act in harmony with our values

This appears often, and generally causes escalation. At it's simplified form, it's essentially, "You are wrong and should feel bad." Often, this doesn't need to be said - and what's really going on is "What you said makes me angry, or upset, because it makes me feel like X"

Real-life example:
"Mods are terrible because my comment got deleted"
vs
"When my comment got deleted, it made me feel hurt because I thought that my contributions were not valued by the community. I felt angry, because I thought my words were important, and I was sad to have them gone."

2. Demands

This one doesn't come up often on forums, but can be seen in, "You need to do X/Answer this component of my charge"

3. Denial of Responsibility

"You're just too thin-skinned, what I said was perfectly fine/everyone says it where I come from/that's just how I am"
vs
"I'm sorry you were hurt by my words, that was not my intention."

4. Making comparisons

"This other person is better than you. People who come from this other place are better than people who come from your place. People who are raised in this culture are better than people who are raised in your culture."

...to be honest, I'm not really sure this one needs to happen at all, it generally doesn't do much but throw gasoline on fires. But I guess you could try,
"I really admire X aspect of Y culture/Y place/Y person."
posted by corb at 2:59 AM on June 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


Once a wonderchicken always a wonderchicken.
I think that when the site was much smaller around the the $5 noob mark and earlier it was definitely more robust and raucous and people were called more harshly on statements which others disagreed with. Now with the huge influx there seems to be a lot more fluttering of hands and smoothing of feathers. Just an observation.
posted by adamvasco at 2:59 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hey, fuck you, you cheeseweinered low-threadcount porcelain scuffer!

I joke, I joke. I love adamvasco, I am just ADDICTED TO VIOLENCE
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:14 AM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Just realized I forgot the four modes, so here goes.

1. Observation: the facts (what we are seeing, hearing, or touching) as distinct from our evaluation of meaning and significance.

This is less important in forums, but still useful.
"When X happens, Y always happens."
vs
"In my experience, when X has happened, Y has also happened."

or

"I see a lot of people who are negatively impacted by X policy"
rather than
"X policy is a horrible policy designed to hurt people."

This is very similar to "You're racist/that thing you said was racist", but not quite.

2. Feelings: emotions or sensations, free of thought and story. These are to be distinguished from thoughts (e.g., "I feel I didn't get a fair deal") and from words colloquially used as feelings but which convey what we think we are (e.g., "inadequate"), how we think others are evaluating us (e.g., "unimportant"), or what we think others are doing to us (e.g., "misunderstood", "ignored").

This kind of goes back to above, but for examples,
"You are using a dogwhistle"
vs
"When you say that thing, it reminds me of these things that other people have done in the past, and makes me feel angry."

3: Needs: universal human needs, as distinct from particular strategies for meeting needs

This also gets a little woo/not suitable for forums, but I suppose things like "I need to feel valued / I need to be heard / I need to feel safe in my community" would go here.

4.Request: request for a specific action, free of demand. Requests are distinguished from demands in that one is open to hearing a response of "no" without this triggering an attempt to force the matter. If one makes a request and receives a "no" it is recommended not that one give up, but that one empathize with what is preventing the other person from saying "yes," before deciding how to continue the conversation.

This could be particularly important for this type of community.
"I would like to ask that we consider not using X word." (which we've had any number of MeTas about)
"No, I'm going to use X word."
"Well then you suck/why are you ignoring me/I hate your kind"

vs
"I would like to ask that we consider not using X word."
"No, I'm going to use X word."
"Why do you feel that X word is particularly important to you? Does it convey a particular meaning that you feel Y word is insufficient for?"
posted by corb at 3:18 AM on June 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


What is violent communication, on MeFi specifically? Namecalling isn't violence and to say it is trivializes violence.

Mean, bullying, nasty, antagonistic, and snarky? Sure. But violent!?
posted by spitbull at 3:39 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


You know, I've always thought that disagreements on MetaTalk could do with being more verbose...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:40 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


hal_c_on: Just so you all know, I practice nonviolent eating.

Let me guess. You sleep with your mouth open and someone drops in small pieces of lightly-buttered kipper when you're breathing in the right direction?
posted by comealongpole at 4:02 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]

"When my comment got deleted, it made me feel hurt because I thought that my contributions were not valued by the community. I felt angry, because I thought my words were important, and I was sad to have them gone."
Come to think of it, I've never really understood why folks get so upset about comment deletions. I mean I'm sure I've had a few nixed, but I've never really noticed or cared, so the distraught metas have generally been pretty mysterious to me. That actually helps me understand part of what's probably going on sometimes.
I think that when the site was much smaller around the the $5 noob mark and earlier it was definitely more robust and raucous and people were called more harshly on statements which others disagreed with. Now with the huge influx there seems to be a lot more fluttering of hands and smoothing of feathers. Just an observation.
Luckily, the rate of hands-fluttering over the change in culture has more than made up the difference.
posted by kavasa at 4:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Namecalling isn't violence and to say it is trivializes violence.
I really don't think this is true. The meaning of words is amorphous and contextual, and anyway this isn't the mechanism by which violence is trivialized. That's done by blaming victims, minimizing how we talk about the injuries, etc.
posted by kavasa at 4:23 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Violent speech is constant yelling and bullying. I'm all for lowering your voice but this just seems like a recepie for passive-aggressive manipulation.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:27 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm all for lowering your voice but this just seems like a recepie for passive-aggressive manipulation.


When you write things like this, it makes me feel sad inside, because I realize some people always assume the worst of others. I I thought everyone's contributions were important to the community and am sad to learn that is not so.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


What is violent communication, on MeFi specifically? Namecalling isn't violence and to say it is trivializes violence.

I think that this is a somewhat limited view of the situation.

Namecalling isn't violence...unless it occurs within the confines of an intimate relationship, at which point it's called emotional abuse, a section of domestic violence.

Namecalling isn't violence...until it results in a punch, a slap, the "fighting words" so carefully outlined in US law.

Namecalling isn't violence...until it creates a bomb in a street, blood everywhere, someone calling me in the middle of the night talking about having to pick up a child's hand, all because one group of people decided to insult, to demean, to pick apart the humanity of the other group of people.

Namecalling isn't physical violence. But violent communication is communication that thinks less of solving problems than of creating them, less of coming together to erase differences and more of relishing and creating those differences. Less of finding our common humanity, and more of denying the humanity of others.

What does this mean to Metafilter? In the broader sense, nothing. We rarely see each other. There are no punches to throw, no escalation of physical violence. But what kind of world do we want our virtual community to be? I would think that we want to be a world of good discussion - where we learn and grow from each other, and benefit from each other's presence. Where people come away from Metafilter feeling like it has enriched their lives rather than lessened them.
posted by corb at 4:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Maybe there could be an annual Blink Day.
posted by jgirl at 4:40 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to the Wiki article, Rosenberg cites Gandhi as an inspiration for NVC-- and Gandhi's definition of violence includes any sort of practiced antagonism. The idea being that conflict is best resolved by eliminating antagonisms and elevating the relationship between parties to one of understanding rather than by arguing angrily or acting at opposition.

So I would think that namecalling would definitely count as violence, at least under this model.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:45 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


From the wiki article:

NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms others when they don't recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs.

One of the things that can lead to people resorting to harmful modes of expression is feeling silenced or that their message is being invalidated. Something that can make people more prone to feeling their ideas are apt to be invalidated is a constant influx of directives about how people should communicate. Therefore, a little tongue in cheek and a little bit serious, I propose that NVC could be counterproductive.

There are gobshit tons of suggestions, guidelines, rules, and laws, about how humans are to communicate. Most of them have some philosophy behind them. NVC certainly isn't bad. It does seem to have a faulty presupposition that a particularly optimistic dimension in the world of ideals can have a pretty potent effect on social reality.
posted by logonym at 4:50 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Where people come away from Metafilter feeling like it has enriched their lives rather than lessened them.

I've been here for 13 years. My life has been immeasurably enriched by my participation here.

I am utterly serious in saying that. The fact that Metafilter is my local pub has made my life better along every axis that I can mentally measure.

It has done so including the nasty folks, the fighty folks, the dumbdumbs and the douchebags, it's done so including the people who were saintly and the people who were just here to shit on everything in sight, the people who were friends and the couple or three enemies I somehow picked up along the way, who inclined me towards anonymity, out of legitimate loopy intimidation. People who are here, people who are gone, people who abandoned Metafilter for shores more to their liking, where I've also planted an avatar-flag. All of it, all good. Without some of the horrifying-in-retrospect fights I'd gotten into with people, or observing-in-silence some of the shitfights that others had gotten into, I would not have learned half as much as I have about fruitful engagement with folks.

I prefer people be kind and reasonable, but me: I also like and learn from a bit of rough and tumble. Even if it's something I am more inclined to watch from a distance these days.

I'll put my foot down now, I guess, instead of my upthread playful sallies: there's room at MeFi for these lovely utopian frameworks for dealing with others, as there is room for anything and everything here, and that is part of the beauty of this self-selected scattered community.

I understand the impulse, I do. But I have little patience for stalwart doctrinaire scolds who want to draw the rest of the textworld into their limited flashlight circle. Very little. And I don't think -- and I say this without rancor or spite -- that anything good can come from pushing, no matter how gently, one's ideas about Proper Behaviour on others.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:54 AM on June 14, 2013 [61 favorites]


Fucken a-men to that, chickenman. They can take my diversity of speech and behaviour away when they pry it out of my cold dead fingers..
posted by Ahab at 5:14 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Something I do at work these days, and I try to do on MetaFilter, is to do by best to assume good intentions from others unless I have pretty good evidence to the contrary. It makes me less likely to escalate and/or shut others down. I'm not sure it's actually more effective, but it's not worse, and it leaves me feeling less corroded at the end of the day.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:15 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Don't call me 'chickenman' again, or I'll shiv you, you beautiful bastard.

Yes, yes, I'm making with the joking some more, but I sense the schtick is getting stale, so I'll stop now.

But seriously, I'll cut you dude

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:46 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I lived with some folks who were super into NVC and gave me a big book to read about it almost as soon as I arrived. I dutifully read it (kinda quickly, because I read things quickly) and they were skeptical that I had managed to really absorb its content. I probably hadn't, though I'd gotten the basic idea. Most of the concepts seemed reasonable but also overwhelmingly... intuitive?

The people I was staying with were extremely prone to fighting and escalating and conflict over tiny incidents, though, and I am maybe the least-conflicty person I know, so it could just be a question of basic personality differences. I've never seen anyone so unable to listen to the other person in a conversation (...fight) and try and imagine where he/she might be coming from. It was honestly heartbreaking sometimes to watch when they interacted with their kids. So I could see how a practice that was like "no really, don't yell that thing you want to yell, wait, try to empathize with what the other human might be thinking or feeling" might have been helpful.
posted by little cow make small moo at 5:50 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


...even avoiding posting, when Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired...

We should add Excited and Drunk to the list and make it HALTED.

We could also close the site down at this point.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:56 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Namecalling isn't violence and to say it is trivializes violence.

In a text-only medium and without the existence of an internet punching machine, I think this may be less true. There is a great deal of violence in this world, and it takes many forms. There have been a number of discussions here (and elsewhere on the internet) that felt (to me) quite violent, given the medium.

It may trivialize it for you, but different people have different experiences, and what's true in yours isn't going to be universal.

To those who have or do practice NVC: How does it work in a text-only medium (and/or work differently from meatspace conversations)?
posted by rtha at 5:57 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well my problem is that I
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:13 AM on June 14, 2013


Not everyone has the same capacity for or need of compassion, acceptance, etc.

I think I feel a little repressed hostility in this sentence, three blind mice. Would you like to talk about it?

I have been trained in non-violent communication.

Just out of curiosity, corb, but are you usually packing heat when you practice your non-violent communication?

I feel like this is all a fine idea, but I must say: that puppet man gives me the shivering willies.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:21 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


feel free to leave the gun needling out of this completely.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:23 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sowwy. :-(
posted by octobersurprise at 6:26 AM on June 14, 2013




I worry sometimes about ideas like non-violent communication because it seems like it leaves invisible who disproportionately gets attention and centered, while placing the responsibility for giving the attention to people who are already expected to sideline their own emotional reality for the sake of communicating with others in the hope that will foster change.


This.


/I'll probably have more to say later when the fingers feel like typing again.

barbecues the chicken in the meantime
posted by infini at 6:27 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


We could also close the site down at this point.

What?
And release us all into the wild?
With idle hands and mind?
Surely, you jest
This is best
We sit inside at night.
posted by infini at 6:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


there's nothing like shaming people whose writings you disagree with as violent - they may be abusive, nasty, belligerent and bullying, but they are not violent

i'm fine with calling it non abusive communication - that is clear and precise

calling for non violent communication is a rhetorical trick - and the danger of rhetorical tricks is that we eventually start believing them as truth

NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms others when they don't recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs.

a brief look at history indicates otherwise - certainly, it's an ideal to be strived for - but it's a dangerous thing to be taken as gospel truth

there's no more effective way of getting what you want than violence, if you can get away with it at a minimum price to yourself - that's a deplorable thing, but often it is true

let's be honest about something - people have been banned from this site for very good reasons - and that act of banning someone, in the context we're discussing, is most certainly "violent"

our community would not survive very well without this "violence"

so if we're after "non violent communication" here - if that's what we have to call it - it's not going to exist without some "violence" to protect it
posted by pyramid termite at 6:31 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Locally this week we had a city council kerfuffle with a bunch of people being passionate. What has kind of freaked me out about it is how some people are now apologising for being passionate.

I've been in this country 10 years and I can pronounce "sorry" correctly and I understand about filling out forms exactly, and the whole Mosaic instead of Melting Pot thing just makes so much sense to me on a deep emotional level... but some times I just despair of understanding what it means to be a Canadian.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:39 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the great things about diversity of attitude is that it can help to you separate attitude from view. As the wonder chicken alluded to, this can be a great resource... it certainly has been for me. Somehow knowing that people with terrible ideas can be kind and thoughtful and people with great ideas can be miserable shitheads makes life easier.
posted by selfnoise at 6:49 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Name calling is problematic, but I think metafilter is at its worst when we each come to a thread with the angry thing we want to shout and then shout them at each other for a while. Bringing the thing we already think to the thread and not listening to each other or the link is profoundly depressing even if the language remains superficially civil.

It strikes me that literal violence (with consent) would be more constructive. Actual sparring might blow off some steam better than protracted all-capsing. "I've heard enough from you about neo-liberal economics! We settle this in the octagon!" and afterwards share a hug out of shared struggle and mutual respect, and then...(descent into fan fiction)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:55 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Come to think of it, I've never really understood why folks get so upset about comment deletions. I mean I'm sure I've had a few nixed, but I've never really noticed or cared, so the distraught metas have generally been pretty mysterious to me. That actually helps me understand part of what's probably going on sometimes.

Kavasa, fwiw: I don't get real upset by it but I did at first. Here is why it used to upset me and why it doesn't anymore:
I had no idea comments got deleted on MeFi the way they do. My first experience of that was pretty negative, which I won't go into details about. I am pretty sure that specific mod still dislikes and disrespects me. Not saying they have it in for me. Just that it feels like they give a pretty negative spin to my words (and I suspect there are other interpersonal things going on there which it would not be in my best interest to comment on publically -- interpersonal things of a sort I have a history with elsewhere, which I have never found a good solution for). Then I got contacted by the mods about how I post on AskMe and it felt pretty hostile and threatening, like "Child, you are misbehaving and we are gonna larn you." rather than "Hey, can we talk? This doesn't work here, here is why. We would like to help you fit in and have a positive experience and be a valued member of the community." When I tried to ask questions, it felt like that was taken as disrespect rather than a genuine attempt to understand the problem. When I tried to do as I was told, it made no difference. It didn't fix my problem. Stuff got deleyed anyway. I did get an opportunity to ask for community feedback on one of my deletions and that did help. That MeTa went really well, in part because I am actually pretty good at some things. It is really hard to have that kind of request for feedback go well in a public forum. Since then, I get fewer deletions. More important to me personally: I feel like the attitudes of the mods has changed and I no longer feel like I am on their radar in a bad way. So if I get a deletion now, it is much more likely to feel to me like "Eh. Whatever." rather than wondering how many more until I get banned and other heavy negative stuff.

So I will suggest that folks who get super upset are probably, like me, people who have a history of a high-ish deletion rate and feel scared, upset, threatened, etc. by it and are also frustrated at essentially wasting a lot of their time because so many remarks get deleted and they don't know how to fix whatever causes that. What I did to resolve it is likely to be relatively rare. In most cases, if someone fails to fit in socially, it never really gets resolved. Negative impressions and bad "habits" (for lack of a better word) on both sides tend to just re-inforce and entrench social situations of that sort. Not going to name names or point to specific instances, but I have seen that type entrenchment happening for other members when they bring up this type thing.

Anyway, 'scuse me while I go hyperventilate and paranoidly wonder about how this will be received.
posted by Michele in California at 6:56 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not everyone has the same capacity for or need of compassion, acceptance, etc.

I'm not familiar with NVC, but the wiki article doesn't say that everyone has the same capacity for or need of compassion, acceptance, etc., just that everyone has same.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:03 AM on June 14, 2013


The posting of this MeTa seems to come from a desire to be helpful and have us be nicer to each other, which is great! But I don't think NVC is a workable goal for Metafilter, since different people come onto the site for different reasons, which strikes me as being at odds with the "All human beings share the same needs" assumption.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:06 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


for interaction between adult humans, it's a too bland and timid and unbecoming of the English language.

Quite so. Proper form must always be observed.
posted by flabdablet at 7:12 AM on June 14, 2013


Proper form must always be observed.

"There's no mating for losers"
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:19 AM on June 14, 2013


Somehow knowing that people with terrible ideas can be kind and thoughtful

This is why I like a certain lawyer type who tends to over debate in the blue threads but is a veritable romantic with thoughtful observations on the green. It helps me to keep that in mind when I find myself wanting to boot his sorry ass ...er... rebut my esteemed colleague's legal points, I mean.

"All human beings share the same needs" assumption.

This is far too simplistic and the easy silver bullet of Maslow only makes it worse. Context, relevant and appropriate are the keywords to remember.
posted by infini at 7:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cosplay enthusiasts?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:21 AM on June 14, 2013


Name calling is problematic, but I think metafilter is at its worst when we each come to a thread with the angry thing we want to shout and then shout them at each other for a while. Bringing the thing we already think to the thread and not listening to each other or the link is profoundly depressing even if the language remains superficially civil.

I enjoy Metafilter for the naming calling and shouting way more than is seemly, but I completely agree. The threads where you know exactly who the participants are going to be, what they're going to say, and who is going to fight with whom? It's completely non-productive, rarely produces any interesting content, and is quite frankly kind of boring.

On NVC, my personal experience with it is that my mother-in-law* was super into it for a few years. I think it's productive in the context of communications that are otherwise likely to be violent and in more formal settings, but in casual conversation it can be a little maddening. The assumption that the conversation is going to turn verbally abusive is kind of self-fulfilling because, in my experience, a lot of NVC techniques read as passive-aggressive even when they're not meant that way. There's only so much "what I hear you saying is that you feel..." that a person can take, you know?

*Sweetheart: you know I love your mother, but I figured I'd remind you before I criticize her in a public place.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:24 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


tl; started civil war;
posted by odinsdream at 7:36 AM on June 14, 2013


taz: "I think it's worthwhile to discuss theories and strategies of communication and how they apply in online discussions, but I also feel like it's easier to convey distilled information sometimes (not to dumb down the theory behind things, but as a way to quickly access and refresh that info). For instance, I first heard about the HALT concept (for our purposes, trying to be more aware of your words, or even avoiding posting, when Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) here on Metafilter, from Jessamyn."

hal_c_on: There would be like 8 posts and 42 comments in total if mefites posted when they weren't hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I'm seriously thinking about a pony request to change the site's name to 'halt'."

Heh.

About 3 years ago, Jessamyn made the observation to me privately that I tended to be much more argumentative (and have more difficulty) on MeFi on days when I had posted to Twitter that I hadn't slept because my kids had kept me up most of the night, and was in a bad mood. I don't remember how I responded to her at the time but I remember feeling pretty defensive about it. I was arguing in situations where I was Right On The Internet, after all. So it wasn't my fault.

But she'd planted a seed, and I began to pay attention.

I don't post FPP's to the Blue when I'm having a bad day anymore. And I try very hard to stay the hell out of Meta and contentious threads on the Blue on those days, too. Am still happy to debate and argue stuff, but being super-abrasive and taking out a bad mood on people here when they had nothing to do with it isn't something I really want to do. Or the person I want to be around here. Life's too damned short for it.

I guess what I'm saying is, a little self-awareness can go a long way.
posted by zarq at 7:52 AM on June 14, 2013 [20 favorites]


"Why do you feel that X word is particularly important to you? Does it convey a particular meaning that you feel Y word is insufficient for?"

I would just like to throw out there that this sort of response at best puts me immediately into the high side of passive-aggressive mode with a good chance of sending me into a frothing rage. Especially here, because frankly there are some people here from whom I have seen enough behaviour over the years to get an idea of what their normal response would be and something like this comes off as insincere trolling. I've had run ins here with people where they all of a sudden act like ELIZA as if your opinion is going to just fall apart if you ask them enough "nonviolent" questions about it or something.
posted by Hoopo at 7:54 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Come, come, elucidate your thoughts.
posted by flabdablet at 8:02 AM on June 14, 2013


unpossable tsshir, not from this angle.
posted by clavdivs at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2013


The thing I have observed about non-violent communication is that there has to be a certain level of trust, either in the process or in the group involved, for it to work correctly. Non-violent communication is totally like therapy, in that when your therapist [ahem] tell you to ground yourself or asks you what your body is feeling in the moment or asks you to use a feeling word rather than a judging word, it seems really, really woo and self-indulgent and stupid if you're not in the right headspace, and yet if you are in the right headspace, it works very well and has a powerful cumulative effect. But if the trust isn't there, it feels alien and coercive.

I've been in many and many a situation where non-violent communication is practiced, and it tends to make things better. It doesn't make them perfect or obviate all problems but it sure does help. Intentionality tends to.

Also, non-violent communication is about actively structuring your language - refusing whole categories of expression, intentionally building up your use of other categories - as a way of contouring your thoughts and practices. It's not a neutral or innocent practice. Over time, I've decided that we are all always refusing categories and so on as a way of contouring our thoughts and practices, and that it's reasonable to do this actively and consciously through NVC, but it really is about choosing to restrict certain things, and it's reasonable to feel that the things that are restricted with NVC have their own values. I do think there's a tendency to talk about NVC as if it is this comparatively light-weight, easy-to-implement thing that operates on the surface of personality and language, when in fact it's a pretty serious practice.

I do think that looking at all that NVC stuff is pretty useful for online interactions, even though I doubt that full-on NVC is possible when folks don't really know each other (in general) or have a set of deeply rooted shared understandings. Mostly, I think it's useful because I find it useful to remind myself that no matter how wrong someone else is on the internet, I don't actually have a complete understanding of what they are trying to do and why. And it helps me remember that when people are hostile to me on the internet, they don't generally have a complex understanding of me either. This doesn't mean we're going to be all rainbows and flowers with each other, but it does help me [sometimes, at least] separate out my feelings about myself and my worth as a person from internet things.
posted by Frowner at 8:20 AM on June 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


occupy portland twinkles
posted by bukvich at 8:22 AM on June 14, 2013

"I see a lot of people who are negatively impacted by X policy"
rather than
"X policy is a horrible policy designed to hurt people."
If you are generally in favor of those horrible policies that hurt people, it makes sense that you would prefer people to discuss them with the first formulation rather than the second.
posted by grouse at 8:25 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Why do you feel that X word is particularly important to you? Does it convey a particular meaning that you feel Y word is insufficient for?"

I would just like to throw out there that this sort of response at best puts me immediately into the high side of passive-aggressive mode with a good chance of sending me into a frothing rage.


And see, that's precisely because although metafilter is awesome and people actually have a pretty goddamn high level of trust and investment in the process, we don't have the kind of trust of each other that would make one not froth at the mouth, and we don't have the kind of knowledge of each other that would lead someone to say "well, that is kind of annoying, but I know them well enough to realize that they mean well and aren't actually being patronizing".

The response to all that "tell me about why you said [THING]" stuff is, by the way, to actually name your feelings of being patronized and to name the power dynamic in the room - you don't have to answer an NVC question just because someone asks it. And it can be about a power dynamic - if things are equal, you can have an awesome friend conversation using those "why do you like that word, what does it convey that this other word doesn't?", but only if you're already in awesome friend space. If someone is using NVC to be patronizing or claim power and they're basically a sincere person who is doing so unconsciously, it is absolutely worthwhile to call that out. I have had several freakishly intense, productive, bonding conversations in which this was part of the mix.
posted by Frowner at 8:25 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there actual violence on the gray? We're not in the same room, we're not in the same city, we're not even on the same planet.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you are generally in favor of those horrible policies that hurt people, it makes sense that you would prefer people to discuss them with the first formulation rather than the second.

People are making such interesting observations that I want to post once more even though I'm posting several times close together - I apologize!

This just made me think about how non-violent communication can be theater rather than conversation, or a weapon rather than conversation. If you're talking to someone who is Terrible, you may be using NVC to communicate to the people around you, to your people, to the audience rather than try to communicate with the Terrible person. You may even be de facto using NVC to stonewall them and to direct the conversation where you want it to go. Again, this is because NVC isn't precisely neutral; it's about power.
posted by Frowner at 8:28 AM on June 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


without the existence of an internet punching machine

Wait, you guys don't have this?
posted by escabeche at 8:30 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Is there actual violence on the gray? We're not in the same room, we're not in the same city, we're not even on the same planet."

FOOLS! I have invented a USB device which can collect votes from the Internet and drive a knife through your heart! I AM THE FATHER OF MODERN DEATH! I HAVE OPENED A NEW CHAPER IN THE HISTORY OF MURDER! THEY CALL ME CRAZY, BUT THEY CAN'T CALL ME GUILLTY! NOTE WITH MILLIONS OF HANDS ON THE BLADE!
posted by klangklangston at 8:38 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I SEE THAT

you have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and I feel upset because
I thought you knew
I was saving them
for breakfast

Next time
please ask
instead of
just leaving a note
posted by dersins at 8:41 AM on June 14, 2013 [44 favorites]


The thing I have observed about non-violent communication is that there has to be a certain level of trust, either in the process or in the group involved, for it to work correctly.

I think this is accurate sometimes, but not always.

I will be the first to say that non-violent communication was something I viewed with skepticism when it was first introduced. As an angry war veteran who just wanted to shout about stuff because I had so much leftover anger, this was literally the last thing I wanted to try to engage in. And in terms of trust? I had pretty much none. I didn't trust anyone who I hadn't served with.

And yet still, when NVC was introduced to me, it was really useful in helping me to quiet those impulses, to try to express how I felt about things and to try to understand what other people might feel about things - because a lot of times the disputes of words aren't about the words, but about the feelings behind them. And it was really helpful when other people talked to me using NVC - it let me sidestep the initial rage response and listen to their feelings and thoughts.

Again, I'm the last person to say that I have it down. There's a lot of times I don't practice it. But it's a goal I try to strive for when I think about it - and having it as a goal I try to strive for when I think about it means that even when I'm not, my conversation is a bit more considerate - or tries to be, at least.

Is it better when everyone trusts everyone? Yes, absolutely. But I don't think that means it has no value in areas where people don't. (And really, maybe we could try to extend a little trust to each other as it stands)
posted by corb at 8:43 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I see a lot of people who are negatively impacted by X policy"

Oh. Phrases like "negatively impacted" make me feel very, very stabby. I had an awful co-worker who loved using "impacted." Everything was "impacted." And every time he used it I thought of enemas and dental drills.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:51 AM on June 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Newsflash, dirtbag: they don’t serve plums in prison!
posted by drlith at 8:54 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, you guys don't have this?

Well, Comcast always throttles our connection whenever we punch more than one person a month, so it mostly sits around gathering dust.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:02 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Phrases like "negatively impacted" make me feel very, very stabby.

You know, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that some people do react like that to NVC. I think part of the problem that I personally have noticed is with engineer-type people, who view it as unnecessarily indirect, and with people who feel like it's being used to pacify or talk down to them.

I'm not sure if there's a workable solution to that, but would be interested to hear: is that one of the reasons that kind of stuff makes you feel upset?
posted by corb at 9:10 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, it's because the word "impacted" for most of its existence has referred to either impacted feces resulting in extreme and medically dangerous constipation, or to teeth growing in a suboptimal way such that they do not erupt through the gums, thus requiring painful and expensive surgery.

It's right there in the comment, that's what enemas and dental drills refer to.
posted by elizardbits at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Look I'm one of the most flighty people here, and I know it. I think what's important is honest debate, not even more paternalistic phrases and smotheringly bland therapeutic speak. The creepy puppet man seems to come from the same hyper-nice dystopia some people here want.

Say what you mean.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:16 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


is that one of the reasons that kind of stuff makes you feel upset?

I just don't like thinking of enemas and dental drills.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Further, the current usage of "impacted," meaning "the effect of $_thing" or "how $_thing has affected me" reeks of business/marketing-speak, which tends to seem sort of pat and insincere.
posted by elizardbits at 9:21 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Phrases like "negatively impacted" make me feel very, very stabby.

Me too, mainly because orange-cheese corp-speak pings all my weasel word alarms.

On preview: snap.
posted by flabdablet at 9:22 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think what's important is honest debate, not even more paternalistic phrases and smotheringly bland therapeutic speak. The creepy puppet man seems to come from the same hyper-nice dystopia some people here want.

Say what you mean.


Ready for your mind to be blown? Some people actually mean their smotheringly bland therapeutic speak.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:26 AM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


CiS, try diving into lake you. Focus on the healing powers of your own refreshing waters, under the warmth of your shining sun. Then revel in the golden shower emanating from beauty of woo as you make your way to the shore of reality.

Yes, that's it, just like that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This Is Just To Confirm

I have read
the note
that was taped to
the icebox

in which
you were whining
about
your breakfast

Excuse me
who died
and left you in charge of
that cross
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2013 [30 favorites]


Say what you mean.

The thing is, I find that a lot of NVC techniques have helped me to figure out what I mean, and to listen carefully for what other people mean too. I find that intentional communication and careful question-asking are really, really helpful in teasing out the different factors in why I think what I do - like, am I angry because I'm recapitulating my interactions with my dad? am I being too influenced by my reading of Foucault? am I wanting more than I'm willing to give in return? am I stressed by my previous work day? is there [and this literally happened] too little oxygen in this crowded and small meeting room and we're all drooping?

I do have a couple of friends who are constant, committed NVC-users, and I think my conversations with them are typically both really helpful and deeply threatening. I feel pretty threatened by NVC-heads, because I find it sort of scary to deal with people who live with that much intentionality and it makes me feel inadequate. Also, I tend to feel that they are presenting a smooth and yes, bland, surface to the world while trying to get me to be forthcoming with emotions, which puts me one-down. On the other hand, a lot of those feelings are my own anxieties, not reality.

In general, NVC is kind of bland therapy-speak, that's true. It's intended to be for getting at some stuff that's tricky to get at, revealing some complexities that don't usually appear. It's an intense language practice that masquerades as mere hippie-dom.

A problem I notice: because it's very therapy-language-specific, it has some class stuff embedded in it. (Although that turns rapidly into just movement language for certain values of movement - I certainly know working class radicals who use it.) This is a problem because if you come in fairly adroit at NVC, it's really easy to steamroller, enrage or panic someone who doesn't have the skills to use it right back at you, and it's easy to make them feel like a bug on a pin, which sucks. This is kind of why I feel that it's helpful to have some bonds of trust and familiarity first.

Pushing past the discomfort of using NVC practices has been very positive for me, though. I totally feel all the "it's so patronizing!! and bland!!!! and therapeutic!!!!" stuff, since that's my gut reaction too. I've found that in certain situations, however, being really honest with myself about the drawbacks and limits of NVC and then going on to use it anyway has actually made me much happier and calmer. Like, I had a big fight with someone the other day - or at least, it would have been a big fight a couple of years ago. But I found that I was quickly able to name what I was feeling and thinking and we moved through the disagreement pretty fast and painlessly - and that ability to ask myself those questions and to listen carefully and calmly in conversation was straight out of all the NVC stuff I'd learned.

But again, it's a fairly intense language practice that isn't going to be a good fit for all situations, all projects or all people. You wouldn't want to write the NVC version of, like, Anna Karenina or something.
posted by Frowner at 9:31 AM on June 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think people get caught up in the idea that the phrasing for this kind of communication needs to be ultra-ritualized or something, which leads--or can lead to-- to the feeling of being patronized, or gamed, or something.

The thing is, though, that the principles of NVC can be applied just as easily within a colloquial diction as within a more formalized one-- and some of those principles can be incredibly helpful in de-escalating a conflict to the point where productive conversation can happen. IMO, the most important of these principles is beginning with an irrefutable objective (non judgmental!) observation of behavior or external reality, which precludes an instant defensive shutdown / denial. (The difference between, say, beginning with "Charlemagne in Sweatpants, you are one of the fightiest people on Metafilter" and "CiS, you get in fights several times a week.")

But a key to its effectiveness--especially with folks who are sensitive to being patronized--lies in phrasing that resembles normal speech rather than "bland, therapeutic" speech.
posted by dersins at 9:33 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Phrases like "negatively impacted" make me feel very, very stabby.

English can often be the most frustrating language to work with in order to reach mutual understanding and a win win outcome on the platform for dialogue (cliche overkill, rapid transmission to native speakers] when its the lingua franca. I find that starting from scratch by mutually agreeing upon words to use - for eg. in business context, "platform" or "pillar" or whatever- within the team or group, and assigning meanings by consensus, goes a long way towards increasing understanding, especially during brainstorming or multi continental teleconferences, and thus ensuring everyone is on the same page.

This phase is the hardest part of multilingual, multinational, multiethnic teams, especially those working virtually together - not very different from online communication actually. In fact, hanging out here is actually relaxing since the outcomes don't pay the rent ('cept for the mods of course).

We've started working with visualizers to help us all reach a point of clarity. Here's an example of what emerges, it allows us all to clear up any misunderstandings or miscommunications due to languages and concepts and words.

Of course, we can't do that here but what we can do in the textually limited sphere is to pause and think, seek to understand context of the 'other' (god I hate that word, #otheredallmylife) and the intent of what they meant to convey.

tl;dr Its not translation that is important so much interpretation.
posted by infini at 9:36 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


You wouldn't want to write the NVC version of, like, Anna Karenina or something.

Happy families aren't really all alike, if you look closely enough; nor are unhappy families necessarily all unhappy in their own way.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:38 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


(The difference between, say, beginning with "Charlemagne in Sweatpants, you are one of the fightiest people on Metafilter" and "CiS, you get in fights several times a week.")

And yet, there's also the discomfort that comes from hearing what other people are really feeling and observing. For me, that's been a tough part of NVC and one I still often dread a bit. It's easy to discount "Frowner, you are one of the most self-important and overconfident people on metafilter" as mere hyperbole, but if someone were to say "Frowner, I notice that you often make broad statements without citations and get upset when people point this out", well, then I have to hear something difficult about myself. With NVC, I only really get to make serious, neutral observations if I am willing to hear them come back at me - but in regular ol' communication, it may be possible to make my observations and get all shouty/glib/intimidating and not have to hear any back.

I think that if you're insecure - as I tend to be - honest observations about yourself can be the scariest kind even if they're not super negative.
posted by Frowner at 9:39 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


NO MORE FUCKING WILLIAM CARLOS FUCKING WILLIAMS FUCKING PARODIES EVER!!!!!!!
posted by Mister_A at 9:42 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Say what you mean.

Whatever the merits or not of NVC as a regime—I'm not familiar with it in detail, but I'm familiar with some of ideas, and I think there's some stuff of use there in a lot of contexts and some stuff that's really, really impractical outside of very contained and purpose-driven small-group situations—I think it's a mistake to treat communication as something that's a binary of either raw unfiltered Real Talk or some notional blanded-up Hugga Bunch situation. And I think the fact that "say what you mean" is a less unambiguous and more complicated directive than it sounds like makes it no so useful to just toss out there like a motto.

Like, I'm inclined to tell people to say what they mean; I think there's a lot of value in actually cutting around some of the dithering or sarcasm or preemptive defensiveness that can end up obscuring a straightforward conversation when people are on edge or just in a bad mood or whatever. Say what you mean? Yes, good idea!

But that's not the only way the phrase can be used; I feel like "say what you mean" ends up a lot of the time meaning something more like "I will not filter myself", like it's not so much a suggestion for others as a philosophical defense of one's own disinclination to change how they communicate, etc. Or a defense of being a jerk if how someone's feeling is jerkish or angry, on the basis that they feel like it's a valid mental state to be in (which it may very well be, you feel what you feel) and so it's the best way to communicate (not so much, because you're not the only person involved in the conversation you're having).
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:45 AM on June 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's my understanding that the nonviolent form of "I see a lot of people who are negatively impacted by X policy" is:

"I see a lot of people who would experience ABC under X policy."
posted by aniola at 9:45 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


because "negatively" is still a word with judgement in it.
posted by aniola at 9:45 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


NO MORE FUCKING WILLIAM CARLOS FUCKING WILLIAMS FUCKING PARODIES EVER!!!!!!!

so much depends
upon

an angry metafilter
commenter

crazed with internet
rage

over william carlos
williams
posted by dersins at 9:47 AM on June 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think a lot of people have heard bits and pieces of NVC. It's probably possible to both have a statement that at first glance seems like it and isn't, and a statement that doesn't seem like it but is.
posted by aniola at 9:47 AM on June 14, 2013


Don't make me do Paterson.
posted by dersins at 9:48 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


But violent communication can be so exhilarating!

Malcolm Tucker ordered me to say that.
posted by Decani at 9:48 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


WHAAT
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:49 AM on June 14, 2013


If Williams makes you long to hang from rope,
What would you say to parodies of Pope?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:50 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


william carlos fucking williams lived on an internet site
(where oh so many parodies fight)
spring summer autumn winter
he plumbed his plums he wheeled his barrow

many and some (both one and all)
cared for williams not at all
they sowed their mustn't they raged their rage
blue green grey page
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:57 AM on June 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


MeTa is the cruelest site, breeding
Williams out of the dead strands, mixing
Flattery and disdain, stirring
Dullards to complain.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:05 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was having trouble finding examples online last night. There's tons in the book. Here are examples from the first section with summarized alternatives:

Exercise 1
Observation or Evaluation?

1. John was angry with me yesterday for no reason.
John pounded his fist on the table.

2. Yesterday evening Nancy bit her fingernails while watching television.

3. Sam didn't ask for my opinion during the meeting.

4. My father is a good man.
For the last 25 years, my father has given 1/10 of his salary to charity.


5. Janice works too much.
Janice spent more than 60 hours at the office this week.


6. Henry is aggressive.
Henry hit his sister when she switched the television channel.


7. Pam was first in line every day this week.

8. My son often doesn't brush his teeth.
Twice this week my son didn't brush his teeth before going to bed.

posted by aniola at 10:08 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


The creepy puppet man seems to come from the same hyper-nice dystopia some people here want.

Let's not jump to conclusions. Jeff Dunham is a creepy puppet man and he says totally racist shit all the time. How do we know creepy puppet man's puppets aren't threatening to set each other on fire? It's about keeping an open mind, CiS.
posted by Hoopo at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just realized that my Eliot parody could be read as a swipe at aniola. I didn't mean it as such. Sorry.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:13 AM on June 14, 2013


Am I the only one singing "creepy puppet man" to the tune of Secret Agent Man?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:16 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


no problem-o. I see that I'm a bit late to the thread.
posted by aniola at 10:17 AM on June 14, 2013


On the topic of language usage, I often feel that I have walked into Pee-Wee's Playhouse when I read adults saying, "that comment is fighty" or "this makes me stabby" or "this sandwich tastes egg salady".

I think "a thing" deserves its own book. Before I started reading this site, I had not encountered the practice of phenomena being called "a thing" as in "I was at the baseball park and saw a man put mustard on a hot dog. Is that a thing?" In recent months, I have read the following described as "things":

* ranch dressing
* seat belts
* the eschatological doctrine of preterism

Did I miss some popular television show that popularized this manner of speech?
posted by Tanizaki at 10:18 AM on June 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Am I the only one singing "creepy puppet man" to the tune of Secret Agent Man?"

Well not anymore you're not!
posted by Mister_A at 10:19 AM on June 14, 2013


> Did I miss some popular television show that popularized this manner of speech?

You get the connotation of the phrase though, right?
posted by planetesimal at 10:19 AM on June 14, 2013


Look I'm one of the most flighty people here,
You mean fighty, don't you, fucker?
posted by Ideefixe at 10:20 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope you're not speaking ill of Peewee's Playhouse
posted by Hoopo at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know who else was a fighty thing? That's right: Ben Grimm.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Based on the examples in Exercise 1, my evaluation is that nonviolent communication is passive-aggressive horseshit.

My observation is that both the "violent" statements and their proposed "nonviolent" alternatives are explicit attempts to make the listener of the statement form value judgments, but by couching the value judgments in implicit shared cultural understandings rather than stating them explicitly, the speaker is distancing themself from taking responsibility for the emotional judgments they're still attempting to convey.

I'm not doing it right, am I?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:22 AM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Did I miss some popular television show that popularized this manner of speech?

Joss Whedon used speech patterns similar to those in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:23 AM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here is an interesting piece from Kottke the other day about how to criticize:

An excerpt from Daniel Dennett's new book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, outlines seven of Dennett's tools for thinking. His second tool is "respect your opponent":

The best antidote I know for this tendency to caricature one's opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

1. Attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."

2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
posted by shothotbot at 10:23 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Permitted"? Yeah: no.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:24 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The adjectival -y suffix is popularly associated with Joss Whedon's writing and with Buffy the Vampire Slayer in particular as a pretty visible contemporary touchstone for the usage, though it actually predates that by decades if I remember right from looking into this a while back. Aside from the degree to which it annoys some people, it's actually a wonderful little bit of natural language production in action, that we can generalize the use of adjectival -y in lots of existing old words (and there are a lot, a doughty crew indeed, at which people don't blink because they're familiar) as way to produce wholly comprehensible nonce adjectives out of nouns and verbs on demand.

I don't know when or how "x is a thing" became a thing, but a thing it certainly is. I think I use that one a lot.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's gettin' rather thinky in here.
posted by Mister_A at 10:25 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, butts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:26 AM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


that we can generalize the use of adjectival -y in lots of existing old words

Don't you mean adjectivey?
posted by Gygesringtone at 10:26 AM on June 14, 2013


trees,

I think the idea is that you're more open than you would be if you were using value judgements. So in example 1, the rest of the blurb from the book says:

If you circled this number, we're not in agreement. I consider "for no reason" to be an evaluation. Furthermore, I consider it an evaluation to infer that John was angry. He might have been feeling hurt, scared, sad, or something else.


If I were John and someone told me I were angry, I'd feel like that was a dead end. But if they told me I had pounded my fist on the table, that would be a more useful line of conversation to me. I'd be less likely to feel defensive and more equipped to address the actual concern.
posted by aniola at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]



An excerpt from Daniel Dennett's new book, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking, outlines seven of Dennett's tools for thinking. His second tool is "respect your opponent":


As I know only too well from academia, though, there is bleed-over - you get so used to everyone being all "although I agree with Frowner about Piranesi's influence on 18th century engraving, I nonetheless feel [polite statements to the effect that Frowner is an unwashed idiot]" that the points of agreement don't feel sincere, they just feel formulaic, patronizing or mocking.

This is why I feel like trust-building first is the best way to have productive disagreements with people.
posted by Frowner at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's easy to discount "Frowner, you are one of the most self-important and overconfident people on metafilter" as mere hyperbole, but if someone were to say "Frowner, I notice that you often make broad statements without citations and get upset when people point this out", well, then I have to hear something difficult about myself. With NVC, I only really get to make serious, neutral observations if I am willing to hear them come back at me - but in regular ol' communication, it may be possible to make my observations and get all shouty/glib/intimidating and not have to hear any back.

This, and it's totally hard, but I think that's why it's also really helpful in communication. But then again, I try to be as introspective as I can.

I think some people seem to be interpreting this post as aniola saying, "This is NVC, you should all do this," whereas to me, it seems like it's more of a, "We could benefit by talking about this. Is it something that some of us want to do? If so, why?"

NVC won't be for everyone, but for some, it can be really useful.
posted by corb at 10:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope you're not speaking ill of Peewee's Playhouse

I flew cross-country just to see the return of The Pee-Wee Herman Show at Club Nokia in 2010.

So, absolutely not. I still regret not buying the backstage passes.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:30 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you'd been serious about Pee-Wee, you would have ridden a bike.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:32 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


My bike was stolen, presumably by a jealous neighbor. Thank you for bringing up such a painful subject. While you're at it, why don't you give me a nice paper cut and pour lemon juice on it?
posted by Tanizaki at 10:34 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hope you're not speaking ill of Peewee's Playhouse

... but you know, Peewee's a child (the character). We're not. Adults speaking like children (unless they're Peewee Herman) are annoying to the point of making me want to ignore every positive principle of nonviolent communication and just say something rude to their face.
posted by philip-random at 10:35 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Slicey and juicy, much?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:35 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


My therapist talks like this - it's a good thing in certain settings, esp. when you're treading on emotionally fraught ground (like in therapy, or contentious MeFi discussions). The idea is just to state what happened and let people draw their own conclusions. It really is useful for talking about difficult things without putting people on the defensive.
posted by Mister_A at 10:35 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex: "I don't know when or how "x is a thing" became a thing, but a thing it certainly is. I think I use that one a lot."

I'm reasonably sure jessamyn is the thingiest mod, but you using "a thing" is a thing as well. (I'd run some numbers if I had more time on my hands and/or better scripting abilities.)
posted by beryllium at 10:41 AM on June 14, 2013


the points of agreement don't feel sincere, they just feel formulaic, patronizing or mocking.

Of course if done poorly, or maybe to some of us it all sounds that way. Nevertheless, thinking hard about what precisely you disagree with and expressing that clearly can be very helpful. It is enough work that try not to comment at all if I can't get beyond "thats wrong" or "you are dumb", though it's not always worth the effort.
posted by shothotbot at 10:43 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seems to me like NVC is a tool to have in your toolbelt, like a Swiss Army knife or a batarang. A method for speaking consciously and without judgement. I'm all for people learning to communicate as effectively as possible.

On the other hand... lack of explicitely owning up to judgement is not the same as not judging. And speaking purely for myself, I'd say that I tend not to completely trust people who aren't just upfront about their biases. I'd rather somebody call me an asshole than think I'm an asshole and say, "you pounded your fist on the table" to show everybody what an asshole I am.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:44 AM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Now, let me tell you about my mother...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:51 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Adults speaking like children

I'm never really clear on what this means, to be honest. On Metafilter I don't see people talking like children, I just see people casually conversing and sometimes making jokes. I mean, the "-y" thing--this is actually very common for adults in professional settings who work in creative fields.
posted by Hoopo at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a good point. If you're just saying "you pounded your fist on the table" to show everyone you're an asshole, I wouldn't call it NVC; the intent isn't there. I'd call it mutually assured assholery, where the point is to show compassion. Compassion breeds compassion.
posted by aniola at 10:52 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


That might be why it's a process. Observations, feelings, needs, requests.
posted by aniola at 10:53 AM on June 14, 2013


Compassion breeds compassion

Does it? That reads more like evaluation than fact. I mean it's a nice idea. I usually try to live my life that way, because: why not? Why make the world measurably worse, right? But I'm a survivor of the 60s and 70s. If woo could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, we'd all be lifetime members of the motherfucking philharmonic by now, and I don't see the compassion virus spreading that quickly. Maybe compassion breeds. But I think the jury is still very much out on how viable the offspring are. Is my observation.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:11 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Say what you mean.

I think an even more helpful idea is "listen to what the other person is saying" not what you think they’re saying, or what you think they really mean. There’s an awful lot of reading between the lines around here, done poorly.
posted by bongo_x at 11:19 AM on June 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Compassion breeds compassion

Does it? That reads more like evaluation than fact. I mean it's a nice idea.


I tend to think compassion does breed compassion over the longish run, but from my point of view that is not actually the point. Burning with anger and resentment is unpleasant. The practice of compassion is there for your comfort, not the other person's.
posted by shothotbot at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If woo could teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, we'd all be lifetime members of the motherfucking philharmonic by now, and I don't see the compassion virus spreading that quickly.

Well, compassion breeds compassion, but it's not a very fast breeder, and it's kind of oblique. By showing compassion for other people you can sometimes make things better to the point that they have more compassion for you - but it doesn't necessarily mean that they'll have compassion for others. Compassion is difficult and tends to be easier for individuals than for groups.
posted by corb at 11:23 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


i saw the letter often called 'y'
added daily to the end
of words whose meanings knew not i
why
i cried
why confuse the tired eye
with neologisms
that confound the rhyme
posted by infini at 11:27 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


shothotbot and corb, both of you make good points here, and like I said, I do generally try to live my life that way, so it's not like I don't appreciate the value of compassion. It's more that, when somebody comes in advertising the merits of speaking from a place of pure evaluation and then starts pouring on the unsubstantiated woo... well, then my natural skepticism kicks in, and I start wondering what they really want to sell me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's Raining Florence Henderson:

I have two ASD sons. I am someone inclined towards saying things like "He pounded his fist on the table." I don't do things like that to show other people you are an asshole. Yes, it gets me in social hot water to do that. Here are a few randomish thoughts:

A) My ASD kids are okay because I observed their behavior and wondered why they did what they did. If you pounded your fist on the table in front of me, I would be thinking stuff like "Whoa, that looks significant to me. I wonder what is going on with that. 90% of the time, that signals anger. But maybe this is something in that other 10% and has nothing to do with anger. Maybe its a bad habit. Maybe he had a muscle cramp. Maybe it came from something I can't begin to guess at. Given the really high odds that it expresses anger, I am going to try to account for 'this man is probably angry.' But I don't know, maybe he isn't angry at me. Maybe his girlfriend just dumped him. Maybe he got fired yesterday. Maybe his dad beat the shit out of him as a kid and he just carries lots of anger. Anyway, yeah, anger is a real possibility. But a 10% chance that it is something else is way the hell too high a chance to dismiss it. With like 10,000 folks on MeFi, I mean, that's lots of potentially pissing someone off unnecessarily by assuming something not true simply because I was lazy, 'bet the odds' and assumed anger like most people would when really I should have given him a minute, tried to get a smidgeon more feedback, given him the benefit of the doubt ..." (etc)

B) If we were close enough, I wouldn't hesitate to tell you to your face when I think you are "being an asshole." Though if my opinion is you are simply "an asshole" we are unlikely to ever get close. But I am very unlikely to say that to you publically on MeFi because it isn't just you and me talking, bud. It's a group thing and other folks don't know if we are chums or not and then total strangers get offended by the ad hominem...etc. So it is just too socially disruptive. It doesn't work well.

C) Most humans are raised under either a shame or guilt model. So my habit in A above often gets me dragged into a shitstorm of controversy because, like you, people read in malicious, ugly judgement on my part when there isn't any. And when folks figure out I am not all default hostile and judgemental, "now I have two problems" and that shitstorm tends to be worse because everyone wants me to love them and understand them and approve of them and yadda, often while they behave really badly. Phew. It doesn't work. But I do keep in mind that neutral observations of that sort rarely fall on neutral ears and effective communication takes both sides, not just my brilliant ability to string together typo free sentences with good grammar and big words (and I make lots of typos anyway, so if that's the standard, I'm fucked).

Anyway, I am a tad short of sleep this week so mostly trying to honor that HALT standard, which is a helpful thing to keep in mind but the reality is I am medically handicapped so if I never posted while ..whatever... I could just go curl up and die. I have no real alternative to muddling through as best I can. So: later.
posted by Michele in California at 11:29 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just don't like thinking of enemas and dental drills.

I was reading the best fanfic the other night where...

Oh...

I expect you won't be interested.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:37 AM on June 14, 2013


MiC, my posting options are: a) post in pain; b) post while medicated; or c) both. And I am always short on sleep. So I hear you.

Also, if you're honestly not judging, then you aren't really doing what I'm talking about, anyway. That does make you a very unusual person, though, and I can see both how you might have learned to live in that mental space and how you might ironically be judged for trying to not make judgemental assumptions. Which would suck, I'd imagine.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:41 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find myself feeling resistance to this prescription for how we should interact.
posted by Miko at 11:42 AM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


butts lol
posted by Melismata at 11:44 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I eventually draw a conclusion, aka make a judgement. I generally want more info than others typically do before I go there. Even after I conclude "Yup, that is one angry dude and he is, in fact, pissed at me," I still tend towards a compassionate framing...and in the interest of HALT and not stirring up that "now you have two problems" worse shitstorm, I will just agree that it often sucks to be me and leave it at that.
posted by Michele in California at 11:49 AM on June 14, 2013


I find myself feeling resistance to this prescription for how we should interact.

My sister is totally into NVC. It's become her life, and it's just the latest woo that she's interacting with. She just moved to be closer to the local NVC chapter. She'll do it for a few years, try to convince everyone that it's the way to interact with others just as the OP is doing here, then she'll move on to something else. Once every five years or so she'll call me and say "you should try x, and you're a bad person if you don't."

NVC is a nice philosophy, no question about that, but it has a cultish feeling to me and Metafilter doesn't do well with being told how to think.
posted by sockerpup at 11:50 AM on June 14, 2013


Metafilter doesn't do well with being told how to think

WE DO TOO!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:52 AM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, if you're honestly not judging, then you aren't really doing what I'm talking about, anyway.

I judge. I try not to judge, but I do judge. But I've gotten to a place where I can not judge a majority of the time. I can genuinely say, "That is their opinion, they are wrong, but it is fine" or "They are doing something that is not morally fine for me, but I can see how they got there, and understand they are probably a good person at heart."

Sometimes, I get to that place by choking down my judginess and trying to ask questions. When I most want to say, "You're wrong and you should feel bad" is when I need to pause, try to cool myself down, and ask, "Why do you feel that way?" Because maybe their answer will make me not judgey.

If that helps explain at all.
posted by corb at 11:53 AM on June 14, 2013


It is prescriptive, but it's a prescription that I've found to be useful.

In the book, the author seems to go out of their way to avoid telling people how they should interact. It seems to be more of a "here are some approaches that were successful for me."
posted by aniola at 11:56 AM on June 14, 2013


...even avoiding posting, when Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired...

We should add Excited and Drunk to the list and make it HALTED.

We're still allowed to post when we're aroused though, right?
posted by arcticwoman at 11:57 AM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am returning to simply concede the point that verbal abuse is violence and my comment above wasn't meant to minimize the power of words as such. But I don't think metafilter ever gets near the level of "verbal abuse," which I generally consider to coincide with at least the threat of violence and with the existence of actual power over someone.
posted by spitbull at 11:58 AM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's just something that works best in highly structured situations with a clearly defined outcome, and MetaFilter isn't that.

I may have a generally higher tolerance for conflict than others, but I would not patronize a website where people talked this way to each other every time they disagreed. I personally find it mannered and patronizing outside of a context where it belongs.

It can be useful at times to prevent arriving at judgments too early and to be willing to review and to revise judgments. But judgment is not an absolute negative and should not be assumed to be such. Conclusions, evaluations, and working theories are important parts of human beings' cognitive processes and are necessary for building working models of the world. Some of the most valuable intellectual contributions in history have been those resulting from the formation of judgments. Judgments underlie decisions and help direct behavior. An inability to arrive at a judgment is a kind of cognitive disability. Making judgments is, in and of itself, a perfectly OK thing, even if it is the judgment "This person must have issues and must be wrong about communication if they won't participate in using NVC with me."
posted by Miko at 11:59 AM on June 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Do you see it as something that might be useful some of the time in some of the threads?
posted by aniola at 12:03 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Metafilter doesn't do well with being told how to think

WE DO TOO!!!


You are WRONG. And its the WWW even. Not the internets.

*flounces out of room*
posted by infini at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


These parts of the Wikipedia entry are interesting:
There is little published critique of NVC. However, researchers have noted that NVC lacks an evidence base beyond the copious anecdotal claims of effectiveness and similarly lacks discussion in the literature of the theoretical basis of the model.

Bowling Green State University Professor Ellen Gorsevski, in assessing Rosenberg's book, "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion" (1999), in the context of geopolitical rhetoric states that "the relative strength of the individual is vastly overestimated while the key issue of structural violence is almost completely ignored."
Do you see it as something that might be useful some of the time in some of the threads?

I can't easily think of any time when it might have been useful. Can you give me an example of how you would see this being useful in a MetaTalk thread?
posted by Miko at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


My dad lives on a commune, and they practice NVC and it drives me NUTS. It feels to me like it takes something that would be a quick two-liner conversation between my partner and I and turns it into a BIG DEAL. For example, my dad and one of his girlfriends were having a conversation in which he made a side remark indicating that he values science education over music education. If I had made the same remark, my wife would have said "Is that really what you think? It makes me sad that you don't value music like I do," or "That's a shitty attitude." I would have then responded, "yeah, you're right, I was speaking off the cuff and don't really mean that," or whatever. Instead, it turned into a forty-minute conversation between the two of them, that made those of us watching feel like we were intruding on an intimate discussion, and left the speakers walking on eggshells around each other for the rest of the night. It seemed inefficient and impersonal.

I really liked corb's explanation of the principles, though. That makes sense and I can see how a general application could be of use. One thing I remember my dad telling me, though, is that the book(s ?) have a list of what is "really" an emotion, and if it's not on the list you can't say it. So, you can't say "I feel upset," instead you have to consult the list for an approved emotion. That's not exactly how my dad described it, but that was my understanding.
posted by arcticwoman at 12:08 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


*hurries back in consult book on "flounce"*

*frills on the way out*

*furbelows to the back*
posted by infini at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


*hugs arcticwoman*
posted by sockerpup at 12:12 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really liked corb's explanation of the principles, though. That makes sense and I can see how a general application could be of use. One thing I remember my dad telling me, though, is that the book(s ?) have a list of what is "really" an emotion, and if it's not on the list you can't say it. So, you can't say "I feel upset," instead you have to consult the list for an approved emotion. That's not exactly how my dad described it, but that was my understanding.

There is actually a list - I believe I have a printed copy somewhere that I got from my therapist. But let's consider "upset" - if we're bothering to use NVC, you probably feel that you need to know what I mean by "upset", so it's more useful for me to say "I feel angry and sad" or "I feel sad and anxious" or "I just feel sad". Again, this premises a situation where we need to have a fine-grained conversation - not a time when I've made a throwaway remark about "well, that was upsetting!" For instance, my therapist is perfectly happy to have me say "upset" or to use judging language except when we're talking about something where he feels like it's useful to get finer-grained. If I say that I have been "upset" all week because of an interaction with [Person], for instance, it's useful to pull out whether I'm feeling afraid [and afraid of what?], angry [about what? at who?], etc etc.

As far as your dad's off the cuff remark - if someone was all like "oh, science education is so much better than music education", I would immediately be riven with curiosity and want to have a 40 minute conversation in which we unpicked why. The rudeness would not lie in the complexity of the conversation or the use of NVC, it would lie in having a conversation that excludes most of the people in the room and makes them feel awkward. NVC does not require that you hash out tiny differences right on the spot. Of course, if you wanted to get really fancy, you could have said, "I notice that you're having a conversation and the rest of us are not participating"....
posted by Frowner at 12:19 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you see it as something that might be useful some of the time in some of the threads?

I see walking away as something useful some of the time in some of the threads, too. Doesn't mean we need to formalize it, or base it on some BS 10-point list of moral absolutes.

(ProTip: Any advice that includes the repeated phrase "All human beings..." and includes more than just a list of medical requirements for basic survival can be assumed to be full of shit.)

For example:

5. All human beings have the capacity for compassion
6. Human beings enjoy giving
7. Human beings meet needs through interdependent relationships
8. Human beings change

I'm currently reading The Psychopath Test, and according to that source, 1% of "all human beings" AND their victims AND a large number of legal, medical and health professionals disagree with these absolutes. So that's almost half the list right there. Maybe not something we need to base our behavior on, is what I'm saying. (Not that we should base our behavior on psychopaths either, of course, but I'm just saying that I immediately distrust anyone who claims to speak for everyone yet clearly does not.)

We can each of us, individually behave this way if it makes sense to us to do so, but we shouldn't codify or do it just because somebody's guru recommends it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:20 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I notice that you're having a conversation and the rest of us are not participating"

How does that make you feel?

*hands over the conch
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:22 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


It feels to me like it takes something that would be a quick two-liner conversation between my partner and I and turns it into a BIG DEAL.

You mean conversations like this?

(more cartoons here)
posted by Miko at 12:31 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sometimes people are wrong and there's very little way to tell them that without seeming "violent". You can couch things in terms of "I feel..." or "I understand where your coming from and want to validate your life experience yet...". This isn't going to do anything for people who deny global warming exists because you're going to have to say "dude you're wrong and the facts say that you're wrong". Whichever way you state this the denier is going to have his assumptions threatened.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:33 PM on June 14, 2013



You mean conversations like this?


Those are the funniest cartoons ever. They validate my experience!
posted by Frowner at 12:34 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't easily think of any time when it might have been useful. Can you give me an example of how you would see this being useful in a MetaTalk thread?

I think this can be extremely useful in Metafilter threads, and could also be useful in MetaTalk threads - though it requires a willingness to care about other people's feelings and explain your own.

I'm not going to look at other people's MeTas, but here's one of mine that I think could have benefited from more nonviolent communication on my own part and also on the part of others - and was at its best when it contained it. For myself, I think I should have been more up-front about the fact that when I see these types of posts, it makes me personally feel a bit sad, a bit scared, and deeply uneasy. It makes me feel like I am not a welcomed member of the community, and it makes me feel like the community is not the warm, vibrant place I believe it to be.

I also think that the thread could have benefited from more personal utterances from others as well as to why they felt the way that they did. It got really fighty, but I don't think it had to get fighty.
posted by corb at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do these facts make my assumptions look fat?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there.


Rumi


/extracted from Miko's first link
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


What Frowner said!!
posted by sockerpup at 12:35 PM on June 14, 2013


Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field. I will meet you there.


I am worried that you will punch me because you don't believe in wrongdoing.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:37 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


and the facts say that your wrong

Indeed. I could choose three paths here
1) "Dude, it's "you're wrong"."
2) "I don't want to hurt your feelings, but you misspelled "your"."
3) What do I care if you misspell "your". I don't need to speak out about it.
4) Facts don't speak.
5) I'm doing it wrong. These are five points, not three. Fact.
posted by Namlit at 12:38 PM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am worried that you will punch me because you don't believe in wrongdoing.

I just spoused you, you idiot

*knees IRFH in the groin*
posted by infini at 12:40 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


But let's consider "upset" - if we're bothering to use NVC, you probably feel that you need to know what I mean by "upset", so it's more useful for me to say "I feel angry and sad" or "I feel sad and anxious" or "I just feel sad".

I agree with you in the case that I'm needing something more than empathy from you. If I'm upset at you, or I need your help to process my feelings, then yes you need to know more details. But if I am wanting to share something that happened to me today, then you interrupting me to tell me what I can and cannot possibly be feeling is (as others have mentioned upthread) patronizing.

I would immediately be riven with curiosity and want to have a 40 minute conversation in which we unpicked why.

That would be a great conversation, but what I saw was less talking about the subject of the conversation and more talking about the conversation itself. Instead of "what qualities do you assess to determine value?" it was "your saying that makes me feel like you are judging the way I raised my children" and then "you suspecting my intentions with regards to judging your parenting make me feel sad at the thought that you don't trust me" and endless, ENDLESS, requests to say something another way. Those cartoons Miko posted are PERFECT.

I am willing to acknowledge that a) maybe my dad and his community members are not well-practiced with NVC and are doing the best they can with the knowledge they have and/or b) I am very much not suited to that communication style and am of course only bringing my interpretation to this discussion.
posted by arcticwoman at 12:45 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


1) I corrected my "your" vs. "you're" before you posted.
2) It's a grammatical mistake rather than a misspelling.
3) You can speak out about it if you feel it's important I guess.
4) You are correct facts don't speak. I hope that turn of phrase did not make my meaning unclear for you.
5) Fact. You spoke about three "paths" rather than facts, but as to your "doing it wrong" I will leave that to your superior judgement.
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 12:46 PM on June 14, 2013


That would be a great conversation, but what I saw was less talking about the subject of the conversation and more talking about the conversation itself. Instead of "what qualities do you assess to determine value?" it was "your saying that makes me feel like you are judging the way I raised my children" and then "you suspecting my intentions with regards to judging your parenting make me feel sad at the thought that you don't trust me" and endless, ENDLESS, requests to say something another way. Those cartoons Miko posted are PERFECT.

See, this reads to me like "people who are rudely having a fight in front of guests/family/people-who-don't-need-to-be-involved" - it sounds like they had some serious emotional issues about suspecting intentions/judging/etc, and honestly I don't think you should have to sit through your dad and his partner arguing about that stuff, whether they're yelling and screaming or NVC-ing.
posted by Frowner at 12:50 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yup. Much like this.
posted by arcticwoman at 12:54 PM on June 14, 2013


It makes me feel like I am not a welcomed member of the community, and it makes me feel like the community is not the warm, vibrant place I believe it to be.

Hey corb, I know how this feels IRL. I guess 'online' or rather, waht's left of it now we that eat half our words, is where I've been able to keep a sense of continuity going as regards to communities and belongingness. And even that took a long time, just here on Metafilter took me 5 years. I can't say anything to make this go away except that you are not alone in feeling that way.

The recent stuff over how its all ok to do whatever to the rest of the world for one community's continued sense of wellbeing hasn't done wonders for feeling like we even belong on this planet. Or have teh right to think, feel, say or do anythign that might be misconstrued.


/GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRr
posted by infini at 12:57 PM on June 14, 2013


Wikipedia pages about communication that feature men talking with handpuppets as the first image make me want to stab multiple random strangers, purely on principle.

Ever feel like you're living in the community weblog equivalent of "First they came for the Goatse posters...", and now they're finally coming for you? No? Well, all I can say is THANK FUCKING GOD!! After over 10 years of being a straight white male liberal atheist computer nerd on Metafilter, FINALLY I have grounds to complain about being persecuted to an infinitesimal degree!
posted by Ryvar at 1:01 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


See, this reads to me like "people who are rudely having a fight in front of guests/family/people-who-don't-need-to-be-involved" - it sounds like they had some serious emotional issues about suspecting intentions/judging/etc, and honestly I don't think you should have to sit through your dad and his partner arguing about that stuff, whether they're yelling and screaming or NVC-ing.

You're making me relive my childhood. :(
posted by sockerpup at 1:26 PM on June 14, 2013


I flew cross-country just to see the return of The Pee-Wee Herman Show at Club Nokia in 2010.

If you love The Pee-Wee Herman Show so much then why don't you marry it
posted by en forme de poire at 1:40 PM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


I also think that the thread could have benefited from more personal utterances from others as well as to why they felt the way that they did.

See, I am not at all sure that why people feel the way they do is always an important contribution to a discussion.

less talking about the subject of the conversation and more talking about the conversation itself.

That's exactly what I despise about this sort of thing. I find it narcissistic and it shifts the focus to something utterly other than the topic.
posted by Miko at 1:53 PM on June 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


When people joke about "let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya" as the best way to solve problems, this NVC business is one of the things being ridiculed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:13 PM on June 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I just spoused you, you idiot

posted by infini at 12:40 PM on June 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


I call BS. You only crushed him. (But I covered it. So it's all good.)
posted by Michele in California at 2:19 PM on June 14, 2013


Yeah, this seems of dubious utility to me.
posted by Justinian at 2:23 PM on June 14, 2013


The guy in the NVC Wikipedia link looks so disappointed. It's as if an evil genie has granted his wish to become a famous teacher, but then the two puppets affixed themselves to his hands, and he's just realized that they will never, ever come off.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:24 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


As I know only too well from academia, though, there is bleed-over - you get so used to everyone being all "although I agree with Frowner about Piranesi's influence on 18th century engraving, I nonetheless feel [polite statements to the effect that Frowner is an unwashed idiot]" that the points of agreement don't feel sincere, they just feel formulaic, patronizing or mocking.

Right, but if they really are trying to insinuate that you're an unwashed idiot, then that's a deeply embedded problem within themselves, and they'd let those insinuations come through no matter the format.

In the vast majority of academic and legal material that I've seen, people are mature and responsible about disagreeing with one another, at least within the text itself. The nasty stuff almost always comes from people with weaker arguments.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:33 PM on June 14, 2013


I'm a little disappointed by the resistance to the suggestion that, "Hey, maybe this could be useful." Many times I've felt that discussions on MetaFilter would go better if we made an effort to express our points in ways that were less directly confrontational and in ways that showed we made an effort to understand where other participants in the conversation were coming from.

It makes me wonder a little bit what is truly prized in discussion here: my guess is that finding areas of common ground is valued considerably less than finding blunt or snarky ways to express our disagreement with others.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:47 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


NVC was perhaps too overly specific and focussed of an example.

The broader point, that people should be less confrontational and fighty, is more relatable and IMHO more valid. In that vein, I would recommend Getting to Yes, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the blog You Are Not So Smart.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:02 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed by the resistance to the suggestion that, "Hey, maybe this could be useful." Many times I've felt that discussions on MetaFilter would go better if we made an effort to express our points in ways that were less directly confrontational and in ways that showed we made an effort to understand where other participants in the conversation were coming from.

That isn't what this is, though. This is a very specific way in which we are being asked to communicate in order to maybe reach that end. It isn't just, "Hey - let's try to give each other the benefit of the doubt and speak with each other instead of at each other," it's "Here is a formula for exactly how we want you to do that."

For example, your comment breaks the rules because you speak of disappointment and your feelings, instead of listing direct examples of things you want to bring to our attention without being judgemental about how we respond to them. You see? It's faux-impersonal. I much prefer your actual comment, because it is honest and direct. That is the basis of my resistance.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:03 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a grammatical mistake rather than a misspelling.

If we really want to get pedantic, then if you knew to correct "your" to "you're" it was in fact almost certainly not a grammatical error (as that would imply a shaky grasp of the grammar on your part) but indeed an error in rendering. So, really, 2c: it was a typo.

I guess whether we consider a typo congruent to a misspelling is a matter of value judgement as to what scope of error "misspelling" implies.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:04 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It makes me wonder a little bit what is truly prized in discussion here: my guess is that finding areas of common ground is valued considerably less than finding blunt or snarky ways to express our disagreement with others."

One can look at NVS as finding areas of common ground, but one can also look at NVC as a system that is artificial and designed to be imposed on people. I bet if we studied it we'd find that places where it has been implemented were institutions like schools or hospitals where there was no real ability for the "community" to reject it. One person says "find common ground" another hears throw the dissenters under the bus.

I am only about 5% a troll in my real world interactions and my online interactions cause I'm usually looking for data and interaction more than just getting reaction. I think if I had to live or work in an in institution that had adopted NVC I'd be about 85% troll, but I'd be very legalistic about it and ultimately a righteous person would kill me. Or maybe I'd end up killing someone. It really wouldn't go well.
posted by logonym at 3:07 PM on June 14, 2013


Re book recommendations:

"Getting to Yes" was one of the texts for my college class in negotiation and conflict management. It is research based and a quick read. If you want something meatier, the other text was "The Mind and Heart of the Negotiator." It is also research based. I highly recommend both.
posted by Michele in California at 3:08 PM on June 14, 2013


It makes me wonder a little bit what is truly prized in discussion here: my guess is that finding areas of common ground is valued considerably less than finding blunt or snarky ways to express our disagreement with others.

I strongly suspect that "finding areas of common ground" isn't why many people read Metafilter. Nor do I think it necessarily should be. Metafilter is whatever you want it to be. Unless you're a giant asshole troll I mean, in which case you'll get a time-out.
posted by Justinian at 3:10 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once I wanted to be a great teacher of children, but this was back before I learned I actually despised the act of learning. Don't get me wrong, I love new knowledge, I love reading, I love increased awareness, experience, and wisdom. It's the process of acquiring these I find tedious. I prefer my widening understanding to to sneak up on me. So rather than reading an annotated play I would rather see a live production and discuss it after with the playwright and actors. Rather than attending boring lectures on theology I want beers with an atheist philosopher. Rather than chemistry classes I want to blow shit up with homemade pipe bombs. I could go on, but I've already belabored the point. What is the point you ask? The point is that I don't want to be a hypocrite. If I don't like learning, how can I expect children to? Sure, I could be the teacher that takes them out for beers, tell them God is like Santa, build pipe bombs, and produce the plays they write, but I was pretty sure I wouldn't be a popular teacher with parents or the law.

Then I found a magic lamp. I thought my problems were solved! In short, this is how I ended up with puppets for hands.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:10 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed by the resistance to the suggestion that, "Hey, maybe this could be useful."

It's not OK to say "I wouldn't find this useful?" "I don't want to talk to other people like this?"

The broader point, that people should be less confrontational and fighty, is more relatable and IMHO more valid.

That's something it's hard to oppose. At the same time, sometimes confrontation is OK. Helps us make progress, even.
posted by Miko at 3:14 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Feelings: emotions or sensations, free of thought and story.

I've been thinking a lot about what "standards" we are taught in communication and why some comments I see all over the internet just seem "off" to me. And I think it's because for those of us who went through a writing curriculum, we were taught to communicate like this:

o Argument
o Factual Supporting Evidence
o Conclusion

And this is really antithetical to the communication style for those who haven't been through this kind of critical-thinking training, because their communication style is more about expressing feelings or relating stories in the context of communicating emotional experiences. NVC seems like it biases this form of "emotive communication" over fact-based argument and critical reasoning. I've read some comments that were just really, really weird and wondering what they were about and why they were being written because they didn't seem to have a "point" or make an argument, and it later occurred to me that the author was generally trying to capture his emotional state or place his emotions into context. But many of us were taught that in a discussion our emotional feelings are not the point.

I can see the use of NVC as a tool for facilitators. But MeFi isn't a facilitation session.
posted by deanc at 3:19 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Homer: Marge, I'm feeling a lot of shame right now.
Marge: I'm hearing that you feel a lot of shame.
Homer: And I feel that you hear my shame.
Marge: I'm feeling annoyance and frustration, but also tolerance.
Homer: I feel validated by that.
Marge: Good! I'm glad we had this talk.
Homer: Me too. [walks off whistling]
posted by Chrysostom at 3:21 PM on June 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Got stuff to do, but wanted to thank everyone for the conversation. I found it far more interesting than I would have if we'd all been following the rules. Be yourselves, folks. Unless you're horrible, in which case, knock-it-the-Hell off.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:25 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The broader point, that people should be less confrontational and fighty, is more relatable and IMHO more valid.

Kumbaya, my lord, Kumbaya...

Kidding. Yes, exactly, less confrontational and fighty. Moreover, drop expectations that a conversation will go exactly how you want it to go. Not everyone went to the same undergrad conflict resolution class as you.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:32 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example, your comment breaks the rules because you speak of disappointment and your feelings, instead of listing direct examples of things you want to bring to our attention without being judgemental about how we respond to them. You see? It's faux-impersonal. I much prefer your actual comment, because it is honest and direct. That is the basis of my resistance.

That makes sense to me. I perhaps took the NVC suggestion more like "we can draw on some of these values" rather than "all of our conversations here should follow this exact model."

I strongly suspect that "finding areas of common ground" isn't why many people read Metafilter. Nor do I think it necessarily should be. Metafilter is whatever you want it to be. Unless you're a giant asshole troll I mean, in which case you'll get a time-out.

I think you're probably right about this. Although, I guess I'm referring only to people who comment on MetaFilter, which is a subset of those who read it; but that point of clarification aside, it actually does disappoint me to think that once people are committed to engaging each other in conversation here that "finding areas of common ground" ranks below (in my observation at least) things like "scoring points" or "being snarky." Not that I'm above being snarky. But I would like to think that when I am finding myself in disagreement with someone here my engagement with them is more interesting and productive if we can figure out where each other is coming from rather than just point out why the other person is wrong.

It's not OK to say "I wouldn't find this useful?" "I don't want to talk to other people like this?"

Of course that's okay; although I'm disappointed people are so quick to dismiss it.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:42 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wonder how Lt Gen Morrison's speech would've sounded in NVC.

Perhaps nonviolent listening would be easier. You can be direct without mangling your language. I can think 'well, that's just, like, your opinion, man'.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:44 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sticherbeast: The broader point, that people should be less confrontational and fighty, is more relatable and IMHO more valid. In that vein, I would recommend Getting to Yes

Difficult Conversations is from the same authors (the Harvard Negotiation Project). Like NVC, it lays out ways to communicate more productively, but without any woo. I found some of NVC's approaches worthwhile but the woo will make many people roll their eyes and toss it ASAP.

aniola, it's been on my mind to do a post to the blue on this kind of thing because I figured some people might find the ideas helpful. I collected a few links but couldn't find enough good stuff to justify a FPP. The really useful pointers and examples are in the actual books, not anything online that I could find.

But this interview with one of the Difficult Conversations authors came close:
There are two things you need to be able to do to get more productive outcomes, and to make yourself more comfortable in difficult conversations.


The first one is to recognize when your thoughts have the characteristics of toxic waste. You know that if you say them they are likely to be provocative, and you know that if you don’t say them they are likely to be corrosive inside of you. When I ask people, they say, “Yes, I can tell when my thoughts are toxic.”

The second thing you need to be able to do is to talk to yourself. I ask people to think of a time when they were on the edge of doing something unproductive and when they were able to persuade themselves to take a deep breath and think of another way to go forward. Everybody has examples of that, so we know we can talk to ourselves. And that is what it takes.

What we talk about in the workshop is: all right, what do you say to yourself? What are the things to watch out for? And we take a look at where the toxicity comes from. And what kind of shift you need to make in your thinking that doesn’t take anything away from the importance of what you have to say. Because if you are upset, you have something that needs to be shared and is valuable. But it is like radioactive gold. You need to get rid of the radioactivity so that people can use the gold.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I hid the gold in the giraffe puppet haha
posted by mintcake! at 4:29 PM on June 14, 2013


arcticwoman: "It feels to me like it takes something that would be a quick two-liner conversation between my partner and I and turns it into a BIG DEAL. [...] and left the speakers walking on eggshells around each other for the rest of the night."

This. Very much.

Especially if there's a minor argument with a bit of anger and frustration... sometimes it's more wholesome to blow off steam and have a nice quick and refreshing episode of yelling outrageous things with some supporting theatrics like stomping off and slamming a door and then you can make up later and realize that it really wasn't all that important anyways. In fact I believe allowing for raw emotions and honest direct conflict when they happen creates a stronger bond because you go through a more or less extreme state and survive it together. If it doesn't and such outbursts/arguments become the norm, then there's some other fundamental problem with the relationship anyways and stuff like NVC will at best cover it up but certainly not solve it.

Turning everything into a huge drawn out yet very carefully worded and indirect exchange just leads to things lingering and festering that should be purged quickly.

Stuff like NVC makes my hair stand on end.
And it makes me want to punch a chicken.
Yes, I a chicken. I don't even know why because I actually really like chickens (both alive and cooked) and it makes no sense.
That's how bad it is.

Also, I have this horrible vision about how NVC would make everybody sound like Counselor Troy on STNG.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:44 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


> what I saw was less talking about the subject of the conversation and more talking about the
> conversation itself.

Just don't be surprised if the conversation goes into extra innings.
posted by jfuller at 4:47 PM on June 14, 2013


1. I feel that it would empower everyone collectively as a group to acknowledge that person of the female gender has been glassed.


2. I feel also that everyone would be better staying here until we can gather our energies collectively and find out what **** done it.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:48 PM on June 14, 2013


I tried reading that book. I felt that it had some decent base principles, but I kept hearing it in the voice of Van Driessen from Beavis and Butt-head and had to give up.
posted by ignignokt at 4:56 PM on June 14, 2013


I did, in fact read the entire thread.(Although i was bit distracted by what i think is a dead bug in the tweeter of my speaker. WHY, YOU HORRIBLY BUZZING THING FLOPPING AROUND).

What didn't get revisited more than in passing was this problem:

Violent speech is constant yelling and bullying. I'm all for lowering your voice but this just seems like a recepie for passive-aggressive manipulation.

+

I am a little bit cynical about NVC after being around certain anarchists and observing how a sufficiently motivated person can be spectacularly passive-aggressive in almost any medium, including quiet, meditative circle-time reflections.
(Thanks CiS and Acheman)

I've been in multiple environments where this kind of thing was encouraged, or even sort of manipulatively mandated. Where if you weren't communicating in this style and "playing ball" you'd be sidelined and/or minimized and looked down upon.(Hippie neighborhood arts groups/collectives, really out there alternative schools, homeschooling groups...)

My complaint or issue with it is not with that, some sort of enforcement of tone and approaches to discussions(HALT type stuff) is great if it's done right. It is probably the path to the utopia that was being sarcastically suggested if that kind of thing was taught from a young age.

The issue is that humanity has yet to create any sort of standard or rule that a clever person with not necessarily bad intentions, but not really good ones or anything in the interests of anyone but themselves couldn't just dong there way around.

So yes, if we started actually striving for this sort of communication it not only would just cause the abrasive dicks to re-arm with a new, manipulative more subtle strategy but it would also cause a weird divide between people who don't see it as a value-add being othered from the people who did.

There's a certain sort of smugness to this type of communication that just kills me. I can't decide if it's inherent or not, but it really is something that only works if the person using it is like... A teacher, or a therapist, or a parent. What articwoman is talking about is very real.

I'm not an enormous fan of the whole "Anger and blowing off steam are not unhealthy" Line of thinking since i often regret expressing my anger in most situations after the fact. But i'd choose "Direct communication" with all it's pitfalls and fightyness over this any day.

I could also go on about how i've noticed a significant percentage of the people who suggest this sort of thing are just saddlesore from losing some fight, and therefor want to ban fighting... but that mostly comes from my past experiences and is an uncharitable reading of this thread and a lot of the people in it.

Do i agree that MeTa has serious issues with people being dicks sometimes? definitely. I even made a thread about it. I don't however, think that building a labyrinth through which communication should flow is the solution. Making it harder for people to be assholes won't stop them from trying, i'd much rather they were just called out quickly an often when the first fart is heard.
posted by emptythought at 5:05 PM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I feel pretty threatened by NVC-heads, because I find it sort of scary to deal with people who live with that much intentionality and it makes me feel inadequate.

Ahh! This is great and profound! I will be thinking about it a lot!
posted by liketitanic at 5:10 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Further, the current usage of "impacted," meaning "the effect of $_thing" or "how $_thing has affected me" reeks of business/marketing-speak, which tends to seem sort of pat and insincere.

In my experience, I've found that a good balance between insincere but polite "negatively impacted by" and accurate but rude "fucked over by" is the phrase "set up to fail by". It directly acknowledges that something bad is happening to us outside our direct control, without using HR trigger words or causing offense.
posted by davejay at 5:14 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


emptythought: "I'm not an enormous fan of the whole "Anger and blowing off steam are not unhealthy" Line of thinking since i often regret expressing my anger in most situations after the fact."

I get where you're coming from. But making mistakes and experiencing regret are also an important ingredient in the resolution of conflict that allow the other party to demonstrate forgiveness and compassion. If you filter out or suppress one you also reduce the expression of the other.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:16 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Kumbaya, my lord, Kumbaya...

Now you've inspired me to dig out my Guadalcanal Diary's Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man lp, which has the best version ever of "Kumbaya."

Oh, music and booze, how you comfort me.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:17 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and I often use (to warp the vernacular of the topic) violent non-violence in work conversations to derail the arguments and frustrations and get conversation back on track. In essence: "Let's stop right there. I don't really care who caused this or why. It doesn't matter. What matters is that the situation is now [this], and we have to figure out what we should do next."

I think it really boils down to being truthful, honest and direct, but also polite and thoughtful and focusing on the things you can control.
posted by davejay at 5:17 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hairy Lobster: "And it makes me want to punch a chicken."

Also I'd like to clarify that the above statement was intended to refer to chickens and/or other similar species of fowl and/or poultry in general and not to stavrosthewonderchicken in particular.

We're cool.


Just... keep a safe distance.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:29 PM on June 14, 2013


I get where you're coming from. But making mistakes and experiencing regret are also an important ingredient in the resolution of conflict that allow the other party to demonstrate forgiveness and compassion. If you filter out or suppress one you also reduce the expression of the other.

Agreed. As with(most/all/choose your own adventure) things, "everything in moderation" and what not. I agree that it can be a good thing, but i understand why this thread was made since MeTa can tend to really go over the top at times.

It's basically just that it made my ears perk up because people who argue that anger is a good thing, or that "venting can be cathartic and build relationships" are usually people with unresolved anger or flying off the handle issues.

And i know, because i was(and to an extent, still am) one of those people and i said that shit a lot. And i regularly spotted other birds of the same feather doing it.

I get what your intent was here now, and i agree with it. But it's one of those things that jackasses have also fielded many times so i was on guard a bit.
posted by emptythought at 5:35 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


A lot of these ideas in communication are rooted in a kind of post-WWII organization theory. You had a few things going on: one was the rise of more complex corporate structures and large middle management. Related was the rise of managemet consulting where large organizational problems needed to be diagnosed and solved. Another was a decline of machine politics and the rise of community organizing. The result was that you had a lot of work being done about how to negotiate, how to manage bureaucracy, how to "get stuff done" while getting buy-in from stakeholders to create consensus. I can see how NVC is really useful for that sort of thing. But this is not really what MeFi is for.

I never got the impression that MeFi was a negotiation. "Value judgments" are part and parcel of what we are doing, assuming that it has that "critical thinking" format:

"John is a very angry person. He pounds the table and yells." You are welcome to provide countervailing evidence for his anger, particularly if you can come up with reasons why the factual basis for the evaluation is wrong.

I admit that this is a class/culture based point of view: I am coming at it from the perspective of someone educated to make arguments, provide evidence, evaluate counter arguments, etc. Over time, we get at what our premises are and what is leading us to come to different conclusions. But I think that this is the milieu in which MeFi exists.

Obviously, that means that other goals like being emotionally validated are going to fall by the wayside. If you are saying, "be more sensitive to other people's feelings" and "don't jump to conclusions," fine. I actually think MeFi does a good job of that: saying, "you are out of control" of "you are being hysterical" is a kind of "tone policing" and devaluing arguments that I think MeFi makes an effort NOT to do. But I also think that the kind of communication valued in MeFi exists for a reason, and those reasons are good ones and what makes it worth reading. "NVC" isn't applicable and would detract from what makes MeFi worthwhile.
posted by deanc at 5:43 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this the source of all the talk about 'respecting people's time' that happens in activist-y meetings?

Though if it is, I don't know if that makes me feel better or worse. At least it explains why people all say it. But not why they say it before inevitably running over the allotted time.
posted by hoyland at 5:43 PM on June 14, 2013


English can often be the most frustrating language to work with in order to reach mutual understanding and a win win outcome on the platform for dialogue (cliche overkill, rapid transmission to native speakers] when its the lingua franca. I find that starting from scratch by mutually agreeing upon words to use - for eg. in business context, "platform" or "pillar" or whatever- within the team or group, and assigning meanings by consensus, goes a long way towards increasing understanding, especially during brainstorming or multi continental teleconferences, and thus ensuring everyone is on the same page.

This phase is the hardest part of multilingual, multinational, multiethnic teams, especially those working virtually together - not very different from online communication actually. In fact, hanging out here is actually relaxing since the outcomes don't pay the rent ('cept for the mods of course).

We've started working with visualizers to help us all reach a point of clarity. Here's an example of what emerges, it allows us all to clear up any misunderstandings or miscommunications due to languages and concepts and words.

Of course, we can't do that here but what we can do in the textually limited sphere is to pause and think, seek to understand context of the 'other' (god I hate that word, #otheredallmylife) and the intent of what they meant to convey.


Is this a parody, or do you actually want us to talk in these leeched grey set of weasel words?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:48 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


hmmm any online resources for this stuff ? cheers.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:48 PM on June 14, 2013


Also, I have this horrible vision about how NVC would make everybody sound like Counselor Troy on STNG.

Or the two booksellers in Portlandia.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:59 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Counselor Troy on STNG

*represses nerd rage*
posted by Sys Rq at 6:07 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


ITYM Councilor Dina Trio.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:08 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is this a parody, or do you actually want us to talk in these leeched grey set of weasel words?

Saying what I mean: quit being a jerk.
posted by liketitanic at 6:09 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an editor, I get all twitchy in the face of NVC because it is predicated on so. fucking. much. passive voice, which in turn literally makes me want to die.
posted by scody at 6:09 PM on June 14, 2013 [23 favorites]


I also think that the thread could have benefited from more personal utterances from others as well as to why they felt the way that they did.
See, I am not at all sure that why people feel the way they do is always an important contribution to a discussion.


This is important, I think, in conversations between adults. In some ways, by expecting someone to explain why they feel the way they do, you are expecting them to justify their feelings and, by doing so, questioning the validity of those feelings. Sometimes, this can be useful, but not often in my experience. I've actually had quite a bit if success at work lately in dealing with people issues by simply not trying to understand why people feel a certain way - they feel that way and their reasons are irrelevant - I need to deal with and/or find a solution or a workaround to the situation that makes them feel like that. If there is a solution - sometimes it's simply a matter of 'well, regardless of how you feel about x, that's the way it's going to be and we need to find a way to help you overcome your objection to it, because the situation is not going to change.
posted by dg at 6:18 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I prefer a diversity of voices. I mean what is an internet site without the occasional ALL CAPS, carrying on, ham handed attempts at emotional manipulation and verbal jabs that leave the reader feeling like you've been kicked in the balls/box or the writer looking like a jackass.
posted by humanfont at 6:52 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Couselor Troy on STNG

Cool. Cool cool cool, Captain.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:55 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


That guy looks like Bruce Campbell with hand puppets.
That makes me feel scared and anxious.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:57 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm reasonably sure jessamyn is the thingiest mod, but you using "a thing" is a thing as well.

And i have no idea where I got it from, ditto on "fighty" I'm not really a Joss Whedon person so maybe other people got it from him and I got it from them? I'm really in favor of using a lot less hostility with people who we'd like to have productive conversations with and I practice this as well as preach this. At the same time, the time I've spent on MetaFilter has made me realize that where I draw the fighty/non-fighty line (or whatever you want to call it) is not where other people draw it and trying to find common ground with people who haven't done a lot of buy-in with whatever my personal idioculture is requires a lot of fairly careful diction. That this does sometimes mean I'm using the principles espoused in NVC is worth me noting, but I think you've got to start at a more first-principles place for something like this to be useful on a large scale.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:15 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like if we've come to any consensus here it's that the puppet guy is really weirding all of us out.

Also, I've been walking around the house all night drinking wine and singing Kumbaya. I highly recommend it.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:22 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like if we've come to any consensus here it's that the puppet guy is really weirding all of us out.

No, I want him to be my friend.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:37 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]



As an editor, I get all twitchy in the face of NVC because it is predicated on so. fucking. much. passive voice, which in turn literally makes me want to die.


as a human being, I'm right there with you because of ummm, passion. Sometimes it makes a mess of things. Other times it's simply fucking beautiful. And other times it makes a beautiful mess of things, which is even better. Sometimes.

in other words, sometimes a thoughtful commitment to nonviolent communication is itself violent. Because it kills passion.
posted by philip-random at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


that's what I mean
posted by philip-random at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2013


finding areas of common ground is valued considerably less

Finding common ground is useful in negotiations, or in resolving interpersonal disputes.

For intellectual discourse, it's not always applicable. Sometimes there is no common ground.

(And as a matter of personal preference, I much prefer a gloves-off, confrontational exchange of ideas. As long as everyone is fighting fair, I think sparring is a good way to hash out ideas. Exceptions being AskMes involving delicate topics. Kid gloves should be worn.)
posted by nacho fries at 8:11 PM on June 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


TEAM CREEPY PUPPET GUY
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:18 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want this place to stay interesting. I don't want it to be conflict-free. It can be decent and respectful without needing to be conflict-free or needing to use special language.
posted by Miko at 9:20 PM on June 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm disappointed people are so quick to dismiss it.

I wouldn't be quick to assume it's quick, either. This stuff isn't especially new to a lot of us. Saying it's not right for MetaFilter is not necessarily a knee-jerk, rapid-fire decision for those of us that have some background with this sort of approach.

Within just the last month or so, there was an FPP made of an improv comedy sketch between two women having an NVC-style conversation that included "animal visualizations" and some stuff like that. It was hiliarious and pointed, and damn if I can locate it now despite various search attempts with tags and everything. Anyone? Bueller?
posted by Miko at 9:27 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


...are we still looking for alternatives to William Carlos Williams parodies? I've always thought e.e. cummings would be worth a shot:

it may not always be so;and i say
that if your posts,which i have loved,should touch
another's,and your dear strong comments clutch
his heart,as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your favorites lay
in such a silence as i know,or such
great writhing words as,nonviolent debate,
stand helplessly before the mods at bay;

if this should be,i say if this should be---
you of the grey,send me a little word;
that i may go unto him,and take his flags,
saying,Accept all memails from me.
Then shall i post a SLYT,and hear one dood
sing terribly afar in the interwebz.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:31 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this a parody, or do you actually want us to talk in these leeched grey set of weasel words?

Sadly, this is the frustrating aspect of using a language which has been artificially learnt by all the participants. People have differing abilities in reading, speaking and understanding, as I've found to my dismay (and to my cost, when you realize later that you were not understood).

So communicating in 'global english' means having to strip out all the nuance, wordplay and allusions, even the snark and humour, and sticking to tired idioms or cliches which all concerned are familiar with.

That's why coming here is so relaxing. It helps me keep my language skills exercised and limber.
posted by infini at 9:56 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, thanks to all y'all. I have appreciated the discussion and learned some things.
posted by aniola at 10:17 PM on June 14, 2013


That's why coming here is so relaxing. It helps me keep my language skills exercised and limber.

Is that how you see your role here? Maybe you should consider the fine art of engaging in relevant conversation. That is also a valuable language skill.
posted by grouse at 10:34 PM on June 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here we go again.

/exits. Stage left.
posted by infini at 10:40 PM on June 14, 2013


Uh...grouse? I think that's why a lot of people participate here, not just infini. Using metafilter as a place to "keep...language skills exercised and limber" is not outlier behavior. There's no indication that infini doesn't also participate in "the fine art of engaging in blah blah" holy shit what a condescending sentence I can't even finish it.

I'm quite sure you didn't mean it that way, though! It just, you know, sounds kind of like a veiled insult. To me! Totally my interpretation, dude. Totes.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:45 PM on June 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, this nonviolent communication thread has taken a weirdly ugly turn. Let's stop doing that now.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:48 PM on June 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, let me say it in a way that is more in fitting with nonviolent communication. When I see the way infini comments I often feel frustrated. When I saw her rationale for participation I felt very frustrated. I regret expressing this in a way that was ugly.
posted by grouse at 12:33 AM on June 15, 2013


Well grouse I see you missed the point of this meta completely. Or should I phrase that slightly differently and ask if you maybe wouldn't mind breathing deeply and reconsidering if your stance towards another community member needs a little bit of reconsideration and that perhaps the greatness in difference of your cultural backgrounds might persuade you to approach your disagreement from a slightly different angle. Or should I just agree that you are being a dick.?
posted by adamvasco at 12:34 AM on June 15, 2013


Dick.

Wow, I thought blatant, substance-free, "fuck you" type attacks were deleted in MeTa.
posted by lalex at 12:35 AM on June 15, 2013


Ahh on preview i see that you have slightly changed your stance here.
Maybe you would like to try and explain your frustation. Different people say things in different ways and if she says this site makes her feel relaxed and enables her to hone her written language skills that is obviously a good thing. What could possibly be your objection to that?
posted by adamvasco at 12:38 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, lalex, you're right. We try to stay hands-off as much as possible here, but I'm going to go ahead and delete that.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:58 AM on June 15, 2013


This has been going on for 3 years or so now. And while there might have been situations way back when where it may have been warranted, its become quite ridiculous of late. One wonders if the grease monkey script that pops up your little gang's notes may not also be obsolete by now?

At this point, I'd like to request that those with a grievance or synonym towards my participation on the MetaFilter website call me out in a Meta Talk thread, with bullet points and citations referencing the issues raised, as well as an estimated duration of when liability lapses i.e. how many more years of this old axe to be ground up every so often before you are able to move on from it?

Step up and meet me in that field where there is no wrongness or rightness.
posted by infini at 1:33 AM on June 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Official request to drop this, and yes, make a Metatalk specific to this situation if it's something that needs to be addressed.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:54 AM on June 15, 2013


So coming in kind of late here (time zones!), here's some thoughts:

NVC is a really great tool for figuring out things internally. It can help you figure out why you are upset, and it can help you formulate your needs in a way that others can understand better.

However, using NVC at someone can be extremely violent.

By claiming that the conflict is emotional rather than rooted in fact, you often accidentally frame the conflict in a way that benefits you. If there is a genuine, material conflict, telling the other party that it does not exist and is only due to emotional reactions (even if it is partly your own reactions) is extremely belittling.

In particular, the formulation of "why does this make you feel upset?" comes across as really not taking the other party's concerns seriously. As others have noted, NVC is a particular culture of discourse that really doesn't work well with lots of other cultures. It demands an emotional openness that you are not automatically entitled to.

Even when a conflict could be resolved cleanly by exploring it using NVC, using it indiscriminately and without the consent of the other party is counterproductive.
posted by Zarkonnen at 2:20 AM on June 15, 2013 [12 favorites]



Step up and meet me in that field where there is no wrongness or rightness.
posted by infini

Taz gave some great advise, follow it.
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 AM on June 15, 2013


Wow, I thought blatant, substance-free, "fuck you" type attacks were deleted in MeTa.

Unless they are against cortex, then they sit there like great stinking turds forever.

Actually, I've seldom seen much deleted in meta. The bar is pretty high.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:19 AM on June 15, 2013


Taz gave some great advise, follow it.
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 AM on June 15


As for you, did you note the fact that she posted right after I did? Or open a MeTa if you want to talk to me. Directly.
posted by infini at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2013


This is the end of this subconversation. Follow up with each other in MeMail if you want/need to or hit us up on the Contact Form.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2013


Have I gone mad? This post is marked "june 14", but I'm almost certain that I saw it several days ago, not yesterday. Is this at all possible, or have I completely lost my awareness of time?
posted by windykites at 11:39 AM on June 15, 2013


You are loose in the time-stream, yes. Though it was posted very early in the morning on the 14th, so you might have seen it on your 13th depending on where you are.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:41 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw it in early 1963 in a commercial break during the Deputy Dawg show. I did not understand what was happening at the time and thought I was going mad. Now it has taken its proper place in the space-time continuum and I am finally at peace.
posted by languagehat at 12:11 PM on June 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Tanizaki, listen to Alan Watts on the way we develop the art of seeing, and a child's raising a question about a smudge on the wall, and the tendency of adults to say "well, that's not anything."

When people say "Is this a thing?" they are asking, is this an ontological entity? Do other people recognize the phenomenon? Am I not the only one who thinks this happens and/or is significant?

I happen to like the phrase Is This A Thing, not least because the base class in computing ontologies is Thing. Philosophically, people could use the phrase Is This An Entity, but it just doesn't seem catchy enough, as in The Lady In Question Is My Marital Partner, And Has
Been For Some Three Decades or Are You Aware Of The Correct Manner In Which To
Rock And Roll?
posted by tel3path at 4:17 PM on June 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can I get some of what tel3path is on?
posted by cjorgensen at 4:34 PM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd never heard of NVC before, though plenty of its methods/reasons I was definitely aware of, either from theories about conflict resolution or therapy guidelines. No disrespect to aniola, who I'm sure made this post with the idea that it would be good if more people were aware of this mode of conversation and might find it useful in specific circumstances, rather than asking for it to be the prescribed mode of conversation on MeFi, but I think that parts of it are already employed by MeFites on a daily basis, and the parts that are not deployed are left dormant for good reason.

On a more general point, one of the things that makes me bristle about the basic principles of NVC is that, depending on how its arguments are deployed, it ends up being the tone argument in all but name. It says tamp down your (very possibly justifiable) anger about this, that, or the next thing; calm down and be rational about how you're expressing your emotions, and if you are vexed about something, then no good will come of being actually, visibly angry about it. What you need to do is state things cooly and calmly. But the thing is, sometimes visible anger is a justified or even necessary response; the civil rights movement wouldn't have gotten anywhere if it wasn't.

Anyway, for some reason this thread made me wonder what Full Metal Jacket would be like if the cast adopted NVC ...

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words out of your filthy sewers will be "Sir". Do you maggots understand that? I am Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, your senior drill instructor. From now on I would prefer that the only time you speak is when I ask you to, which is strictly for reasons of protocol; when you are given permission to speak, I would appreciate it if you referred to me by my proper rank, or at the very least, since you are all of a lower rank than me but are by no means inferior people just because of that, afford me the honorific of "Sir". Is there anyone who would like me to clarify that further?

Recruits: [In unison in a normal speaking tone] Sir, yes Sir.

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: Bullshit. I can't hear you. Sound off like you got a pair! I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure I caught that. Would you care to repeat it, perhaps utilising some of your excess testosterone?

Recruits: [In unison, much louder] SIR, YES SIR!

Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings. You are nothing but unorganized grab-asstic pieces of amphibian shit! Because I am hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn. I am hard but I am fair. There is no racial bigotry here. I do not look down on niggers, kikes, wops or greasers. Here you are all equally worthless. And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved Corps. Do you maggots understand that? If you graduate from here and survive recruit training, you will be a weapon, a minister of death praying for war. But until that day, to my mind, you will resemble something extremely unpleasant, though that is obviously my own personal opinion. I will consider all of you the lowest form of life on earth, though, again, this is because I tend to judge people very harshly even before I have met them, and indeed many cases, I can be so negative that I don't even consider people I have just met as human beings, and would rather look upon each of them as an unorganised collection of cells which resemble amphibian excrement, though I only do this because I want you to know that though I am hard on you, I will always be fair. You may dislike me, and I would absolutely understand that you may want to express that dislike to your colleagues rather than to me personally, but if you will place your trust in me, you will learn that I am fair. I will not tolerate racial bigotry, and operate an equal opportunities policy, in which I look down equally on all ethnicities, not for prejudicial reasons but because I have been given a job which involves denigrating all of you equally. Part of the reason why I am here is to assess all of you individually and decide which of you are soldiers of sufficient quality to qualify for my beloved Corps. Would you like me to go over any of that again?
posted by Len at 4:49 PM on June 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


tel3path: When people say "Is this a thing?" they are asking, is this an ontological entity?

The real question is, pace Dr Seuss, is this Thing 1 or Thing 2?
posted by Len at 4:52 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was surprised to learn that adding -y to the end of words as in "stabby" and "fighty" does come from tv shows. I have always avoided Joss Whedon so I had no idea.

What about the construction "blah blah blah because noun" as in "The movie had a happy ending because Hollywood" or "Your kittens act that way because cats." It seems to have come out of nowhere about six months ago and it drives my crazy. Is it from a tv show too?
posted by vincele at 5:19 PM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


"Because of reasons" is the one I'm specifically aware of, but I think you're right, the "because x" thing is separate and larger.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:38 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it may actually be Joss Whedon again. Essentially, anything that annoys you about Internet verbiage is probably either the fault of Joss Whedon or 4chan.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:46 PM on June 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


running order squabble fest: Essentially, anything that annoys you about Internet verbiage is probably either the fault of Joss Whedon or 4chan.

Let's hope they don't team up. Or let's hope they do; it would certainly make the script of the inevitable Avengers Assemble sequel more entertaining ...
posted by Len at 5:59 PM on June 15, 2013


This has been a wonderful thread, not least because Leon's here. Good to see you. As far as the side issue goes, we all need to quit holding on to years old meta quarrels. Who gives a shit ? As far as introducing outside conversational methods ... I could ask that everyone here goes to coda before posting, as it would really improve the conversation here.....it's not really likely to happen though is it ? Mefi has all sorts in here and despite protestations about snark, it's needed as much the tree hugging vegan teepee stuff.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:48 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I could ask that everyone here goes to coda before posting, as it would really improve the conversation here

Not sure what you're going after here but if every MeFite had to go to Coda before posting then that wee shop on The Mound, where they are now, would get awfy crowded. It's pretty poky as is. Even the old shop in Princes Square would be a bit of a tight fit for a few thousand MeFites, though they'd admittedly come away with a much better understanding and appreciation of Scottish folk music.

As for the vegan teepees, I'll leave that to the Forest Cafe crowd to sort out ;)

PS: Hi Sarge! Long time no see!
posted by Len at 7:02 PM on June 15, 2013


I don't like 'fighty'. It's pretty infantile. "is This A Thing?" Is being used now on the ultra-lowbudget SBS current affairs show The Feed.

One other knock about NVC is it makes the site less interesting to read, which would discourage people from signing up
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:13 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't like 'fighty'.

Favorite expression my is not, either, nor is GRAR, but as originated by Jessamyodamyn both have been, well, making flow water upstream -- with good luck that, my drift if you catch.
posted by y2karl at 9:39 PM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


More to the point - as my other day job involves working for an organization that runs a bunch of apartment hotels for the formerly homeless, I find myself herding not kittens but more like extremely irritated honey badgers on steroids and amphetamines. It is not easy to deal with people with multiple addictions and serious mental health issues when they are very angry. Not to mention potentially physically dangerous. What NVC reminds me of is our De-Escalation training. And as we are dealing with people in real life with anger management issues and past histories of violence, one of the don't's in the Do's and Don't's of that training is Don't argue. You don't simmer down angry people by masterfully refuting them. What you do is listen to them well enough to be able to paraphrase what they are saying back to them well enough that they get that you are listening to them. Which really can lower the temperature when things get heated. It's a worthwhile skill to learn for carrying on conversations in real life.
posted by y2karl at 9:57 PM on June 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


And as we are dealing with people in real life with anger management issues and past histories of violence, one of the don't's in the Do's and Don't's of that training is Don't argue. You don't simmer down angry people by masterfully refuting them. What you do is listen to them well enough to be able to paraphrase what they are saying back to them well enough that they get that you are listening to them. Which really can lower the temperature when things get heated. It's a worthwhile skill to learn for carrying on conversations in real life.

True - but this isn't real life, exactly, at least in the sense that nobody is going to bop you in the nose if they think you're being a wiseass. So, while techniques to minimize the risk of getting bopped in the nose might have practical applications here, they don't have those practical applications.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:30 AM on June 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Otoh, we'd have to watch out for pizza deliveries...
posted by infini at 3:32 AM on June 16, 2013


What we need here (there) is one of karls kicking poetry threads uh huh.
and i will shamefully edit-in what a great James post Karl so that accounts for the poetry.
(see, i edit and comment after I saw todays Blues thread on the blue)
posted by clavdivs at 7:00 AM on June 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


edit in 3 minutes 20.
Like a Motown song.
posted by clavdivs at 7:04 AM on June 16, 2013


I'm very fond of "fighty" because it so beautifully captures the school-playground aspect of the obnoxious attitude it labels.
posted by flabdablet at 4:56 AM on June 18, 2013


Hey, anything's better than "aggro."
posted by Sys Rq at 5:26 AM on June 18, 2013


Aggro as a technical term meaning the numerically measurable predisposition of a monster in a multiplayer game to attack a particular character in preference to another seems workable, because it's not redundant - "hate" usually stands in, but could refer to other situations, such as dialog, "anger" or "rage" could refer to changes in attack pattern as well as choice of target, and so on.

"Aggro" as an adjectival shortening of "aggressive" feels like a bridge too far for me, but maybe I've just never encountered that situation where I need to describe something as "aggressive" but am on a really tight timescale. Mile, mocassins etc.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:15 AM on June 18, 2013


I feel like, for folks already literate in the gaming jargon sense, there's some value in "aggro" as a way to characterize some random person's shitty disposition in a way that is a little bit emotionally distancing. Like, if I'm with a friend and some third party is unnecessarily shitty or confrontational about something, me saying that That Was Kinda Aggro there might communicate a shared understanding that the third party's behavior was crappy and inappropriate while setting the discussion in more of a "let's talk about familiar mechanics of interactional dynamics" sort of mode than a "let's focus on that person and the upsetting shit they just did to you" mode.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:41 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or, like, how Dathon says to Picard, "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" instead of just punching him in the goddam nose. Maybe the Tamarians ended up with a metaphor-based language for the same reason that Vulcans embrace logic: they were originally a profoundly violent culture, and only through artificial constraints on their approach to discourse and conflict could they find their better selves and achieve the higher goals of civilization. Darmok is an episode not so much about bridging the gap of alien perspective as it is about effective anger management strategies.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:46 AM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe the Tamarians ended up with a metaphor-based language for the same reason that Vulcans embrace logic: they were originally a profoundly violent culture, and only through artificial constraints on their approach to discourse and conflict could they find their better selves and achieve the higher goals of civilization.

Or maybe, as any idiot, not to mention just about every idiot, not to mention your average dunce fan reader interested in language and science fiction would note, oh, whoever pitched the episode maybe got an idea about a metaphor allegory epic poetry quotation based language from reading the story the Ascian prisoner Loyal to the Group of Seventeen told in the hospital scene in Gene Wolfe's The Citadel of the Autarch
“In times past, loyalty to the cause of the populace was to be found everywhere. The will of the Group of Seventeen was the will of everyone.”

Foila interpreted: “Once upon a time…”

“Let no one be idle. If one is idle, let him band together with others who are idle too, and let them look from idle land. Let everyone they meet direct them. It is better to walk a thousand leagues than to sit in the House of Starvation.”

“There was a remote farm worked in partnership by people who were not related.”

“One is strong, another beautiful, a third a cunning artificer. Which is best? He who serves the populace.”

“On this farm lived a good man…”
--but one thing is for certain: that particular serving utensil of legumes will be coated in a variety of metals one atomic layer at a time.

My own current fix is that the mythical story pitcher's listener got put off with all that little red book stuff and decided that, hey, maybe the Children of Tama would be better off like the Ancient Greeks all quoting Homer at each other all the time only this time Only Homer All The Time and this time as translated by the Universal Translator of Philip K. Dick's Galactic Pot Healer:
The Bread Also Rises[!]
....Cortex, his eyes uncovered

posted by y2karl at 1:08 AM on June 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older It seems like the blink tag po...  |  I have a dual-foaled pony requ... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments