CHARTING DEMOCRACY: Navigational Aids for Sustainable Organizing was a monthly column in the Munjoy Hill Observer, a local neighborhood newspaper, from 2006-2008 - http://www.munjoyhill.org/observer.php . The original website is archived at: http://www.democracy207.com/chartingdemocracy and the columns are archived here on this blog. We remain ever hopeful of more discussion and action on sustainable organizing of, by, and for people at the grassroots.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
2006 DEC | NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION: Using the OFNR 4-Part Model to Navigate Difficult Passages in the Turbulent Waters of Organization Dynamics
Using the OFNR 4-Part Model to Navigate Difficult Passages in the Turbulent Waters of Organization Dynamics
By Ed Democracy
“It seems to me that whereas power usually means power-over, the power of some person or group over some other person or group, it is possible to develop the conception of power-with, a jointly developed power, a co-active, not a coercive power.” - Mary Parker Follett
"Imagine connecting with the human spirit in each person in any situation at any time. Imagine interacting with others in a way that allows everyone’s need to be equally valued. Imagine creating organizations and life-serving systems responsive to our needs and the needs of our environment." - Marshall B. Rosenberg
Complex title - simple model. Organization dynamics often seem complex, yet, with some simple navigational tools, one can easily get a fix on where one is and where one is going. For ex- ample, I once read in a sociology textbook that most organizational dynamics reduces to task-oriented issues and socio-emotional issues. To some people, all this is common sense. To others, it is not. Some people are naturally more task-oriented, while others are more attuned to the socioemotional. We all come together to accomplish the tasks required to see the change we want to see in our world or neighborhood. However, what determines how long we will all stay together is how we feel when we are together. The more enjoyable a group the more people will want to be involved, the more tasks will get done more easily, (“Together everyone archives more.”) the more fun, the more people, etc.. The group dynamic will move onward & upward in an ever-opening life-spiral. Task-efficiency is important, but, it is socio-emotional sustainability that will determine the health, well-being, and longevity of an organization.
The Center for Nonviolent Communication will put you on the leading edge of the skills and knowledge necessary for organizational sustainability. Their website is www.cnvc.org and they also have their own dedicated WIKI where I found the following description of their 4-part model ( http://en.nvcwiki.com/index.php/Four_part_model ) : The four part model of Nonviolent Communication is sometimes referred to as “OFNR” because the four components are called Observation, Feeling, Need and Request.
1 Observation The Observation(s) of concrete facts of a situation, free of judgment, guilt, blame or shame.
2 Feeling The Feeling(s) stimulated by the observation
3 Need The Need(s), life energy, that caused the feeling
4 Request A specific Request that is positive, concrete and can be done right now to serve the Need(s) discovered. An NVC Request can often easily be distinguished from a demand by what comes up if the answer is “No.” Other principles In NVC expression all four parts are used. When verbalizing empathy, often only the first three or even just the feeling and need are spoken. There is an out, in, out pattern to the model - the observation is something concrete and specific out in the world, the feeling and need help you go as deep as possible with what’s alive in you and/or others, and the request is about manifesting as specifically as possible out in the world again. There may be similarity between OFNR and “Active Listening” at first glance. However, the OFNR approach of NVC might be considered Reframing of language rather than “Paraphrasing.”
This is because NVC translates thoughts, judgements and some linguistic elements of dialog into Feelings and Needs. NVC also includes the Observation which helps to distinguish facts from interpretations of them, and the Request which tends to move the dialog closer to discovering and sharing.