The subtle violence of nonviolent language.
and now nothing will be impossible for them, which they have imagined to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language.... --Gen. 11:6
These thoughts are occasioned by a training video (1) by Marshall Rosenberg Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D. (b. October 6, 1934) is an American psychologist and the creator of Nonviolent Communication, a communication process that helps people to exchange the information necessary to resolve conflicts and differences peacefully. , a 200-minute condensation of a full-day workshop given in San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden by his Center for Nonviolent Communication Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a process developed by Marshall Rosenberg and others which people use to communicate with greater compassion and clarity. It focuses on two things: empathy — listening with deep compassion, and honest self-expression . On the Center's web site (2) can be seen the variety of audiences the Center has reached since 1984, in public workshops and invited sessions with prison populations and warring factions in the world's most intractable regions. That history is also seen in Rosenberg's presentation, in frequent anecdotes that are humbling as well as inspiring, testimony to an extraordinary career of teaching, even in desperate settings, a language of the heart.
The essentials are easy to relate. Communication suffers if evaluation and judgment are confused with observation; if diagnosis of another person's inner state stands in the way of listening and seeing; if feelings and analyses, needs, wants, and strategies, requests and demands are not carefully distinguished. Quick to acknowledge these insights aren't new, Rosenberg does a spellbinding spell·bind
tr.v. spell·bound , spell·bind·ing, spell·binds
To hold under or as if under a spell; enchant or fascinate.
[Back-formation from spellbound. job of renewing them. When we neglect to draw those distinctions it is not because they are mysterious, but because they sound transparently simple and real exchanges, especially when heated, aren't. Rosenberg shines in the workshop format when he guides attendees through the subtle and demanding cognitive work needed to distinguish, say, observing from evaluating, when the conversation matters.
I emphasize that it's cognitive work because Rosenberg does not. Having dubbed his nonviolent communication also "the language of the heart," he offers a dim view of the place for thinking in such a language, speaking of "Who's Right?... a game where everybody loses," (3) and suggesting that "any time you're thinking, your chance of getting what you need is greatly decreased." (4) I hoped at first that was a bit of hyperbole hyperbole (hīpûr`bəlē), a figure of speech in which exceptional exaggeration is deliberately used for emphasis rather than deception. to hold my attention while a more nuanced picture could develop, but he returns to it often in the half-day video, and as baldly. The effect is a curious picture of a man adroitly a·droit
1. Dexterous; deft.
2. Skillful and adept under pressing conditions. See Synonyms at dexterous.
[French, from à droit : à, to (from Latin doing very fine, attentive thinking while insisting that it's not the thing to do. I do not see this inconsistency as a mark against him, but almost as the opposite, as a sign of the life in his learning and his teaching. As learning animals from a long line who picked up abstract thinking much more lately, we often find, when devoted to learning a thing, that we're becoming better at it than we yet know how to explain; I suspect that is happening to him.
What's going on What's Going On is a record by American soul singer Marvin Gaye. Released on May 21, 1971 (see 1971 in music), What's Going On reflected the beginning of a new trend in soul music. ? It seems to me there are two packages in his presentation. In the first package are the essential ideas and practices of nonviolent communication, the admonitions to listen attentively and speak without presumption whose history is ancient but whose application so often falls short. In the second package is a theoretical reflection: an effort toward a picture of our nature, history, and culture that will explain why we have such persistent trouble with the first. It is the question bound to haunt anyone who does what Rosenberg does, to give his work the spiritual dimension he finds in it. "I have tried to integrate the spirituality," he writes, "... in a way that meets my need not to destroy the beauty of it through abstract philosophizing phi·los·o·phize
v. phi·los·o·phized, phi·los·o·phiz·ing, phi·los·o·phiz·es
1. To speculate in a philosophical manner.
2. ." (5) It is natural, even so, that he should be drawn to the prospect of explanation. That prospect he finds in the work of theologian Walter Wink Prof. Dr. Walter Wink is Professor emeritus at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. His faculty discipline is biblical interpretation. He previously worked as a parish minister and professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. .
To be human
Rosenberg frequently credits the work on 'domination systems' by Wink, and as I do not know it first hand, I can summarize only Rosenberg's formulation. It leads Rosenberg to place at about 5,000 years ago (6) the origins of a way of thinking that has shaped human relations human relations npl → relaciones fpl humanas and institutions ever since, demanding a view of humans on which we are innately evil, motivating domination systems to control us, and eclipsing our original nature. That nature Rosenberg suggests with a song by his collaborator Ruth Bebermeyer celebrating 'natural giving'--the pleasure of spontaneous acts, under no obligation, that make our own lives and others' more wonderful. (7)
If domination-system imagery is common in our culture, that of Eden and the Fall is hardly less so, and any other week this picture might have given no more than a passing furrow furrow /fur·row/ (fur´o) a groove or sulcus.
atrioventricular furrow the transverse groove marking off the atria of the heart from the ventricles. to my brow. But the week I watched the video was the week after a pair of chimpanzees--my close phylogenetic phy·lo·ge·net·ic
1. Of or relating to phylogeny or phylogenetics.
2. Relating to or based on evolutionary development or history. cousins--sensationally chewed the face off a 62-year-old man cutting cake for a birthday, and that left me pensive pen·sive
1. Deeply, often wistfully or dreamily thoughtful.
2. Suggestive or expressive of melancholy thoughtfulness. . (8)
I do not mention this to defend the innately evil view. I have no more use than Rosenberg for such a picture--of us, or even of the chimps. To be sure, the popular image of funny, human-like companions with a taste for cake is incomplete. The image may be comfortable but it is no preparation for walking into their sanctuaries. They are a mixed bag; how could we, with our common inheritance and all our later invention, be less so?
Nor do I mean to lower expectations for human relationships. When I listen to those people most opposed to recognizing our kinship with the chimps, that seems to be their driving concern: if we are such close kin, isn't it unnatural to expect us to act differently? But there is a completely different way to look at it. Can we bring our best selves to our interactions without an unblinking look at what we can bring and how we came by it? We are the chimps' reasoning cousins, and it is exactly our nature--our birthright--to reflect on what we do, and to see more ways of resolving a conflict than might occur to a chimp. That's something in our bag the chimps haven't got, earned at untold cost, preserved and passed on if we value it. Rosenberg demonstrates it unmistakably when role-playing with his audience.
But what to make of the rest of his presentation? Following Wink, he sees in everything we conventionally learn about communication and relationships the shadow of domination systems. He uses the image of the jackal jackal, name for several Old World carnivorous mammals of the genus Canis, which also includes the dog and the wolf. Jackals are found in Africa and S Asia, where they inhabit deserts, grasslands, and brush country. (in earlier writing also the wolf and the snake), and such terms as jackal-thinking, life-alienated language, and life-alienated consciousness, to describe those styles of thinking and expression. (9) Into that bin he sorts all language that hints of evaluation, moral judgment, guilt, obligation, or penitence Penitence
Act of Contrition
prayer of atonement said after making one’s confession. [Christianity: Misc.]
former Lady Laurentini; a penitent nun. [Br. Lit. , right, wrong, good, bad, ought.
Just how seriously he means that is not clear, but it is more seriously than I first suspected. His advice to a giraffe--symbolizing, because of its large heart, a nonviolent communicator--when interacting with a jackal is "do not hear thoughts." (10) Listen, instead, only for feelings and needs behind the thoughts: "All needs are universal; every human being in the world has the same needs." (11) In that way, "all you can hear is the only thing human beings are ever saying: 'please' and 'thank you'"; more elaborate dispatches from a neighboring human mind boil down to "tragic, suicidal expressions of 'please.'" (12)
Curious which of my own needs I could find there, I paid a visit to the CNVC CNVC Center for Nonviolent Communication
CNVC Classical Voice of North Carolina
CNVC Chula Vista Nature Center
CNVC Costos Variables No Combustible "needs inventory" page, a commodious com·mo·di·ous
1. Spacious; roomy. See Synonyms at spacious.
2. Archaic Suitable; handy.
[Middle English, convenient, from Medieval Latin list. (13) It would be hard to feel completely left out, but easy to wonder just what it means in the end to claim universality of needs, beyond the obvious ones, at all. I am not sure how seriously Rosenberg intends this, either. I have quoted him on his need not to destroy the beauty of his work through philosophizing, which might be less than universal; the poet John Ciardi Noun 1. John Ciardi - United States poet and critic (1916-1986)
Ciardi, John Anthony Ciardi , for whom beauty was in league with clear thought, may have felt a different need in its place.
Something in me is not fed by the notion of people in monotonous search of a few unchanging needs, whose curious preference to view themselves, their fellows, and the achievements of culture as something more magnificent than that only makes everything more complicated. That this picture can have popular appeal perennially surprises me. Linda Elder, reviewing Daniel Goleman's book Emotional Intelligence, finds an eagerness to generalize upward from work in psychology or neuroscience neu·ro·sci·ence
Any of the sciences, such as neuroanatomy and neurobiology, that deal with the nervous system.
the embryology, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology of the nervous system. , even at the very frontiers, as if it could supplant sup·plant
tr.v. sup·plant·ed, sup·plant·ing, sup·plants
1. To usurp the place of, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics.
2. , rather than complement, all that the humanities already tell us about ourselves. (14) While she was responding to Goleman specifically, and I will suggest that a more generous reading of him is possible, I do think she has her finger on something more widespread. The picture of ourselves that we get from history, literature, and art is challenging and complex. It will not meet a need for pat answers, and it's just what's missing when Rosenberg casts jackals and giraffes to play our parts, or writes that we need to be as smart as bees and dogs. (15) "Better to be guessing wrong about what a person's need is," he maintains in his workshop, than "hearing what they think." (16) I am not sure that is a recipe for nonviolence, when what so many desperately need is that their fully human minds be fairly heard.
Rosenberg seems to have built on a theme of Wink's, that a domination system trains people to think in ways that support the system. Naturally, in his teaching he will aim to discourage thinking in those ways. Is it from simple haste that he does not try to suggest what is different about thinking in ways that support domination systems and ways that do not, and how to tell them apart? Or is it reason plain and simple, our chief distinction among bees and dogs, giraffes, jackals, and (by a narrower margin) chimpanzees, reason in itself that he lists on the side of domination?
The question gathers interest in light of the kinship between his nonviolent communication and an older term, critical thinking. Bertrand Russell (person) Bertrand Russell - (1872-1970) A British mathematician, the discoverer of Russell's paradox. , long a believer in kindness and clear thinking, recalls how he gradually came less to see them as two distinct things. (17) Many still do; some surprise may greet my suggestion that nonviolent communication and critical thinking have anything to do with one another. Rosenberg recounts often hearing from participants "this is essentially what their religion says. It's old stuff, they know this stuff, and they're grateful for this manifestation, but it's nothing new." (18) The same comparison, but to critical thinking, is less eagerly drawn, and yet major ingredients--attentive listening, careful distinction between observation and evaluation, fairmindedness, and clear, respectful expression-all are there. Why the discomfort?
One element seems to be that, in what amounts to an accidental pun, we hear the 'critical' in critical thinking in its other meaning of 'disputatious,' and conclude that critical thinking is something nice people don't do. This is not the deeper element; one could imagine that had a more market-tested name been chosen, 'careful' or 'mindful' thinking, perhaps, the difficulty might have been avoided.
The deeper element is hard to miss. We have all seen the skills and language appropriate to critical thinking used to play zero-sum games, to silence or humiliate 'opponents' with a convincing, even exaggerated, appearance of intellectual rigor rigor /rig·or/ (rig´er) [L.] chill; rigidity.
rigor mor´tis the stiffening of a dead body accompanying depletion of adenosine triphosphate in the muscle fibers. , untempered by the humility, integrity, and fairmindedness that critical thinking properly entails. It is the stuff of partisan debates, Internet discussion boards and, all too often, our own conversations. Richard Paul This article's grammar usage needs improvement. Please edit this article in accordance with Wikipedia's . has the term weak-sense critical thinking (19) for this use of the trappings without the substance, so often rewarded more generously than the genuine article. It is for many, and apparently for Rosenberg, the first or only association that 'critical thinking' brings to mind. It is the thinking that, as Rosenberg puts it, only makes someone wrong; it does no service to nonviolent communication. But it is not critical thinking in the strong sense. To send up critical thinking on a bad rap, a case of mistaken identity mistaken identity n → erreur f d'identité
mistaken identity mistake n → Verwechslung f
mistaken identity n , would do no service either. In the strong sense, it is not what Rosenberg is opposing: it is what, at his best, he is modeling.
Paul's distinction between weak-sense and strong-sense brings a useful lens to Rosenberg's work, because other forms of communication Rosenberg finds counterproductive can also be seen as weak-sense versions of what, in the strong sense, is priceless. Rosenberg discourages moralistic mor·al·is·tic
1. Characterized by or displaying a concern with morality.
2. Marked by a narrow-minded morality.
mor language, meaning most clearly the language used to label others or their actions as bad, to impose guilt, shame, punishment, to demand apology or penitence. Giraffes do not need to know that they or others are right or wrong, good or bad; they explore strategies for getting everybody's needs met, and make adjustments when those strategies have unwanted effects. Although giraffes do not apologize, with the implication that someone was wrong or bad, there is a place in Rosenberg's view for "giraffe giraffe, African ruminant mammal, Giraffa camelopardalis, living in open savanna S of the Sahara. The tallest of animals, giraffes browse in treetops at heights inaccessible to other leaf-eaters. A male may be 18 ft (5.5 m) from hoof to crown. mourning"--to acknowledge that a strategy had an unintended effect, perhaps even "to feel bad" that things turned out that way. It is, Rosenberg ventures, "a sweet bad." (20)
But if giraffe mourning is sweet, how much sweeter when things can be kept from turning out that way? Real giraffes, the spotted kind, may seldom take actions that concern more than a few other giraffes, or have more than a passing effect. Our own actions may have effects of a scale on which sweet mourning might seem parsimonious par·si·mo·ni·ous
Excessively sparing or frugal.
parsi·mo . To compensate, we also have a non-giraffe ability, imperfect as it may be, to work to understand the likely effects of our strategies before they have to be mourned. That is moral reasoning Moral reasoning is a study in psychology that overlaps with moral philosophy. It is also called Moral development. Prominent contributors to theory include Lawrence Kohlberg and Elliot Turiel. in the strong sense, and that is why we need it.
Rosenberg is warning of a weak sense that looks back, seeking to label and blame after the fact. But it would be too simple to discourage all attention to the past. Giraffe mourning surely carries a wish not to do something quite the same way again--a wish that, without a sincere effort to understand what happened in its moral dimension, would be insubstantial. Mourning so lacking in substance can seem parsimonious indeed.
To put aside moral reasoning without distinguishing the strong sense from the weak is to put aside something we need to make sense even of Rosenberg's chosen examples. Some points he illustrates with reflections on Nazi Germany, but what are we to make of them if moral language is off limits?
His pragmatic point is simple enough: "if we are even thinking that what somebody else does is wrong, it decreases the likelihood that we will get what we want." (21) Non-judgmental language may work better. It is a point well taken even if the Holocaust represents an extreme case where just how the principle could be applied is not clear. Surely we all would have welcomed an effective and less sanguinary san·gui·nar·y
1. Accompanied by bloodshed.
2. Eager for bloodshed; bloodthirsty.
3. Consisting of blood.
[Latin sanguin way to get the Third Reich's program stopped--precisely because we share a language in which we could begin to comprehend that program, and reach agreement that it should be stopped.
Rosenberg would probably count this example among cases where 'protective force' is appropriate, a concept he explicitly allows. (22) Here the extreme nature of the Holocaust makes the picture simple: who would disagree? But subsequent history has not been kind to the notion that protective force is easily known when one sees it. To those who do not recognize a particular use of force as protective, there is no other name for it than violence. To keep our language from sliding into a mere supply of euphemisms to the strong, we do not need moral labeling or bullying; we do need moral reasoning of the most painstaking kind.
By this point the question may be whether I am not trying to stand Rosenberg's teaching on its head. He has focused on feeling to the exclusion of thinking; have I then concentrated on thinking, to the exclusion of feeling? To me, the question involves a popular stereotype, the idea that thinking, to put it bluntly, is unfeeling, and feeling is unthinking. Here I return to Linda Elder's review of Daniel Goleman's popular 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, a book Rosenberg refers to, and one bound to come up in this connection. Elder confronts the same notion:
In this view one must give up the possibility of a rich emotional life if one decides to become a rational person. Likewise, one must give up rationality if one is to live life as a passionate, highly motivated person would. These ways of talking do not, in my view, make sense of who and what we are. Rather they support a myth that is an albatross on all our thinking about who and what we are.... They lead us to think of thought and emotion as if they were oil and water, rather than inseparable constituents of human cognition. (23)
Elder's review of the book is unflattering, driven by her concern that Goleman unwittingly perpetuates that stereotype. My own sense of the book is that there is more in it than she has credited and, in particular, it seems that Goleman is aware of the same popular image, agrees that it is unconstructive, and has made his own effort to dispel it. In great part, his book is that effort. He goes a different way about it than Elder would, a way that does have the pitfalls she points out. His writing sometimes sounds the notes of the very commonplaces he means to dispel, as when he writes that the "new paradigm New Paradigm
In the investing world, a totally new way of doing things that has a huge effect on business.
The word "paradigm" is defined as a pattern or model, and it has been used in science to refer to a theoretical framework. urges us to harmonize head and heart," (24) invoking the familiar compartments even as he advocates a holistic view. I suspect Elder would prefer to see a cleaner break, and her preference is understandable, given the stereotype's mounting cost. At the same time, the dichotomy is so ingrown ingrown /in·grown/ (in´gron) having grown inward, into the flesh.
Grown abnormally into the flesh. in popular language that it is hard to imagine how Goleman could altogether avoid the trap.
In the end, I wonder if Elder is reacting more to the stereotype's prominence in the culture than to its prominence in Goleman's book, and perhaps has not recognized an ally. She and Goleman both maintain that thinking and feeling are inseparably entwined. She writes, opposing the popular wisdom, that a "truly intelligent person is not a disembodied intellect functioning in an emotional wasteland, but a deeply committed mindful person, full of passion and high values, engaged in effective reasoning, sound judgment, and wise conduct." (25) Goleman writes, "The question is, how can we bring intelligence to our emotions--and civility to our streets and caring to our communal life?" (26)
They echo not only each other, but also the rational-emotive therapy of Albert Ellis Albert Ellis (September 27 1913 – July 24 2007) was an American psychologist who in 1955 developed Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. He held M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in clinical psychology from Columbia University and founded and was the president and president emeritus of the from the 1950s, (27) which Elder seems just short of reinventing. That work offers a way to mend the difficulty in her references to rational "command" of our emotional life. It is not, of course, that we can ever simply command our feelings about a situation--but we do choose what to do with them, and it often enough happens that our choosing to think differently about the situation will alter the feelings in due course. Goleman stretches a quantum-physics metaphor for the same idea: "bringing cognizance The power, authority, and ability of a judge to determine a particular legal matter. A judge's decision to take note of or deal with a cause.
That which is cognizable to a judge is within the scope of his or her jurisdiction. to the realm of feeling has an effect something like the impact of an observer ... altering what is being observed." (28)
There is a core of insight in Elder's review that brings this exploration full circle. Alongside the commonplace division of the mind's abilities into thinking, feeling, and will, there is another division that cuts across those, and it is the same one I have already mentioned in connection with critical thinking and again with moral reasoning. Most anything, it seems, can be practiced in a strong sense of commitment to its highest values, or in a weak sense, its trappings displayed for effect. The common caricatures of "emotional" or "rational" dispositions may be misplaced mis·place
tr.v. mis·placed, mis·plac·ing, mis·plac·es
a. To put into a wrong place: misplace punctuation in a sentence.
b. observations of what happens to the exquisitely tangled interplay of these that is human, when the strong-sense commitment falters.
To those caricatures of thinking and feeling that ultimately diminish both, Goleman and Elder (and Ellis) offer hopeful alternatives. Goleman's book offers more besides: its examples of teaching for emotional literacy in childhood and later, and their preliminary indications of success, suggest a call to action. The book contains, in fact, much of the essence of Rosenberg's nonviolent communication, free of the impatience with thinking that colors Rosenberg's approach.
I want now to pick up a thread from Rosenberg's work that seems to lead in a new direction. He names ingredients of a successful domination system; one is Amtssprache, (29) a word he ascribes to Adolf Eichmann Noun 1. Adolf Eichmann - Austrian who became the Nazi official who administered the concentration camps where millions of Jews were murdered during World War II (1906-1962)
Eichmann, Karl Adolf Eichmann and renders as "a bureaucratic bu·reau·crat
1. An official of a bureaucracy.
2. An official who is rigidly devoted to the details of administrative procedure.
bu language that denies choice, with words like 'should,' 'have to,' 'ought'" (30)--a language said to have made it easy for Eichmann to send trains of human cargo Human Cargo is a 2004 Canadian television miniseries. The series won seven Gemini Awards and two Directors Guild of Canada Awards. It premiered on CBC Television on January 4, 2004 and starred Kate Nelligan, Cara Pifko, and Nicholas Campbell. to the camps.
Rosenberg cites Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt's report of Eichmann's capture in Argentina and trial in an Israeli court fifteen years after the end of the war. (31) I had not read the book, and welcomed the opportunity; something about Amtssprache wanted to be pinned down. It is a common enough word in its plain, dictionary meaning: the official language designated for government affairs and publications, as in Germany the Amtssprache is German. Informally, it can also connote con·note
tr.v. con·not·ed, con·not·ing, con·notes
1. To suggest or imply in addition to literal meaning: "The term 'liberal arts' connotes a certain elevation above utilitarian concerns" something windy and jargon-laden, like 'bureaucratese.' How and when did it gain the sense Rosenberg gives it? And was its key distinction a sense of obligation, fitting so neatly Rosenberg's own misgivings about 'should,' 'have to,' and 'ought,' or some other distinctive feature?
I learned that there were two different terms applied in Arendt's book to describe language used by Eichmann or his colleagues; it may be that Rosenberg's memory fused the two. Amtssprache was introduced first, but not for any role in oiling the wheels of destruction. In answer to a question at trial, Eichmann had offered a senseless cliche from card games, and when he was unable to assist the baffled judge by thinking of any other way to put it, he apologized, "Amtssprache is my only language." (32) Arendt renders the word as 'officialese' and nothing more. Her point is not about language but about Eichmann: the backslapping lingo Lingo - An animation scripting language.
[MacroMind Director V3.0 Interactivity Manual, MacroMind 1991]. of empty buzzwords Below is a list of common buzzwords which form part of the business jargon of Corporate work environments. General Conversation
The Vacuum Oil Co. incorporated in 1866. , joining the National Socialists with no curiosity to learn what they were about, and for no particular reason joining the SS rather than a Freemasons This is a list of notable Freemasons. Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation which exists in a number of forms worldwide. Throughout history some members of the fraternity have made no secret of their involvement, while others have not made their membership public. lodge devoted to humorous banquet speeches. (33)
He was not often troubled by conscience, not because he did no moral reasoning but because what reasoning he did rewarded him with suitable conclusions. At Judge Raveh's incredulous in·cred·u·lous
1. Skeptical; disbelieving: incredulous of stories about flying saucers.
2. Expressive of disbelief: an incredulous stare. question, he was able to state Kant's categorical imperative categorical imperative: see Kant, Immanuel.
In Immanuel Kant's moral philosophy, an imperative that presents an action as unconditionally necessary (e.g. almost clearly. (34) He had a "household" version, however, that he lived by, different only in a verbal detail--and a world of consequences. Arendt subtitled sub·ti·tle
1. A secondary, usually explanatory title, as of a literary work.
2. A printed translation of the dialogue of a foreign-language film shown at the bottom of the screen.
tr.v. her book a report on the banality of evil The Banality of Evil is a phrase coined in 1963 by Hannah Arendt in her work Eichmann in Jerusalem. It describes the thesis that the great evils in history generally, and the Holocaust in particular, were not executed by fanatics or sociopaths but rather by ordinary people for its most uncomfortable reflection: to bring about such unutterable mourning, little more may be required than muzzy muz·zy
adj. muz·zi·er, muz·zi·est
1. Mentally confused; muddled.
2. Blurred; indistinct.
[Origin unknown. thinking.
The second language feature Arendt reported was Sprachregelung, literally speech rule, a contrived or stylized styl·ize
tr.v. styl·ized, styl·iz·ing, styl·iz·es
1. To restrict or make conform to a particular style.
2. To represent conventionally; conventionalize. form of speech, and it may be closer to what Rosenberg noted. It was used deliberately among officials involved in the Final Solution. Arendt did not emphasize, though, a choice-denying quality, a freight of 'should,' 'have to,' or 'ought.' In fact, Eichmann chillingly anticipates Rosenberg's sophistication so·phis·ti·cate
v. so·phis·ti·cat·ed, so·phis·ti·cat·ing, so·phis·ti·cates
1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly.
2. on that point:
They were not ordered around, for the simple reason that if the chief officials had been told what to do in the form of: you must, you have to, that would not have helped matters any. If the person in question does not like what he is doing, the whole works will suffer. We did our best to make everything somehow palatable. (35)
The passage is from the most agonizing section of the book, that detailing the assistance of Councils of Jewish Elders in getting their own neighbors registered, ticketed, and off to the stations on time. Eichmann was describing his interactions with them.
The feature of the official Sprachregelung that Arendt did emphasize is, what is hardly surprising, its surrender to euphemism eu·phe·mism
The act or an example of substituting a mild, indirect, or vague term for one considered harsh, blunt, or offensive: "Euphemisms such as 'slumber room' . . . . Deportation became "change of residence" or "resettlement Re`set´tle`ment
n. 1. Act of settling again, or state of being settled again; as, the resettlement of lees s>.
The resettlement of my discomposed soul.
- Norris. "; killing became "evacuation" or "special treatment" (Sonderbehandlung, as in an upgrade to a VIP suite); the extermination extermination
mass killing of animals or other pests. Implies complete destruction of the species or other group. camps were the "charitable foundations for institutional care." (36)
The Final Solution demonstrated such language stylings in nakedly horrible form, but they are not without more modest parallels. Erving Goffman's 1957 paper "On the characteristics of total institutions" (37) is concerned with the many forms of human social structure that acquire substantially total control of individuals. The Nazi camps furnish many examples, but Goffman explored as well such institutions as prisons, nursing homes, religious orders, the mental hospitals of the time, and military units. Some are voluntarily joined, some not; some confer social prestige, others social stigma Social stigma is severe social disapproval of personal characteristics or beliefs that are against cultural norms. Social stigma often leads to marginalization.
Examples of existing or historic social stigmas can be physical or mental disabilities and disorders, as well as , still others neither. What binds them into a coherent category is their immersive character. What makes the category interesting is the range of features Goffman finds common across institutions with such different images and goals.
One common feature is that a small population exercises great authority over a larger one, (38) one of Walter Wink's marks of a domination system. Just as Wink would have it, success involves shaping members' attitudes toward self in the system's interest. Some total institutions hold out that reshaping of self as an explicit goal. Each, in Goffman's words, "is a natural experiment on what can be done to the self." (39)
The first thing such institutions usually do to the self is unravel it, whether or not that purpose is overt. A few ways they accomplish that reappear across the spectrum of institutional types. Goffman does not mean only those arrangements--systematic privation and physical brutality, radical isolation, and the like--that may immediately come to mind. There are others not peculiar to total institutions, but exhibited by them "to an intense degree." (40) His findings offer cautions for everyday life. "Analysis of these processes," Goffman writes, "can help us to see the arrangements that ordinary establishments must guarantee" lest they bring about the same effect. (41)
Goffman reports that a contrived language is not unusual, tailored to the objectives and ideals an institution professes to the outside world. From the inside, an individual may find the "facts of his life given a translated ideal phrasing by the staff that mocks the normal use of language." (42) Goffman presents a side of the picture unexplored by Arendt or Rosenberg: a Sprachregelung does not serve only as a convenience to the staff, making the difficult parts of a job somehow palatable. When used with, or to be overheard by, the individual concerned, on whom its mockery of plain conditions will not be lost, it is itself an instrument of the psychological violence being done. It strikes at a central prerogative of the self: to offer and ask communication in language that is true to its task.
A distinction by Rosenberg illustrates how a speech rule can ring false: "we don't moralistically judge the person for what they did; we judge whether it's serving life or not." (43) Granting the point that it is more constructive to judge the act than the person, which can be addressed without the new styling of "serving life," the new formula has the same problems that elsewhere elicit Rosenberg's jackal howl. To say another's act is serving life or not, I must be claiming I can tell the difference. That I am taking a position on the desirability of the act can be lost on no one, but my language has put on a mask of benign objectivity. At best, I will reach my position on the same grounds and with the same care that would ordinarily inform a thoughtful moral judgment--but if I am deceived that this nonviolent phrasing has lessened the stakes, I may not be so careful.
The speech rule used in Eichmann's circle was a deliberate construction, but that is probably not the explanation in most cases. A language styling may reflect genuinely fine aims and principles and take root among people who hold them in all sincerity. It may grow habitual and come, through inattention in·at·ten·tion
Lack of attention, notice, or regard.
Noun 1. inattention - lack of attention
basic cognitive process - cognitive processes involved in obtaining and storing knowledge or expediency ex·pe·di·en·cy
n. pl. ex·pe·di·en·cies
1. Appropriateness to the purpose at hand; fitness.
2. Adherence to self-serving means: , to be applied to means that dishonor To refuse to accept or pay a draft or to pay a promissory note when duly presented. An instrument is dishonored when a necessary or optional presentment is made and due acceptance or payment is refused, or cannot be obtained within the prescribed time, or in case of bank collections, the original ends. There is, perhaps, a weak sense for everything, and it may be just as high principles come to be practiced in a weak sense that a language honoring those principles ossifies into a Sprachregelung. It is at once obvious and ironic that languages composed of words and phrases Words and Phrases®
A multivolume set of law books published by West Group containing thousands of judicial definitions of words and phrases, arranged alphabetically, from 1658 to the present. of compassion, empathy, healing, and growth should be the common examples.
Babel Babel (bā`bəl) [Heb.,=confused], in the Bible, place where Noah's descendants (who spoke one language) tried to build a tower reaching up to heaven to make a name for themselves.
Why are the practical skills of nonviolent communication--the first package in Rosenberg's presentation--so simple to state, so difficult to practice, and so often reinvented in new dress? It is as if each new appearance kindles hope; we make bricks; the tower goes up; and just when we can see how little would be impossible once we imagine it, our language is confounded and we are scattered once again. The last tower is never simply lost but forsworn for·swear also fore·swear
v. for·swore , for·sworn , for·swear·ing, for·swears
a. To renounce or repudiate under oath.
b. To renounce seriously. , as now we distance ourselves from critical thinking while we hope to learn nonviolent communication in its place.
Rosenberg's philosophical package has the flavor of that Genesis story, with Wink's domination systems playing the role of the jealous God. But I am not sure we need for explanation such a formidable opposing force
To find the weak sense of a practice, to go through its motions when they might bring a reward, requires only a bit of ego and a bit of haste. It is easier than the alternative, and more familiar. As soon as there is a language I can use to regard my own thinking and guide my search for understanding, there is a language I can wield to score debating points. With a language in which I can reflect on my actions and bring my best to the community comes, perhaps, one in which I can label others for political gain. The language that helps me honor my emotions could be one in which I insist you express yours, whether it fits or not.
When those flaws appear in the tower, what brings it down is our impatience. Having seen a virtue in its weak sense, we forget there is a strong sense, or a difference. We identify reason, moral judgment, and emotional intelligence with their shadows, and continue the search for a knife that cuts only one way, that will not require such care and attention in use.
But care and attention are all. The defining feature of a virtue's weak sense is its mimicry mimicry, in biology, the advantageous resemblance of one species to another, often unrelated, species or to a feature of its own environment. (When the latter results from pigmentation it is classed as protective coloration. of the real thing. There is no way to tell them apart but the hard way: patient, questioning attention to substance and detail. It is not popular wisdom: even forty years ago, Hannah Arendt Noun 1. Hannah Arendt - United States historian and political philosopher (born in Germany) (1906-1975)
Arendt wrote of "highflown assertions that it is 'superficial' to insist on details" and "the sign of sophistication to speak in generalities according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. which all cats are gray...." (44) But with that care, nonviolent communication in its strong sense is possible in every person's native tongue. Without it, a language created for nonviolent communication risks becoming the next speech rule, the next abandoned tower.
That Marshall Rosenberg's care and thought are so evident in action in his workshop confirms that he understands in practice. To see him work through nonviolent communication with his attendees is to see the real thing. But the temptation of the weak sense will not be absent.
One way to see that is to observe how, next to other efforts like critical thinking, his has added violence to the language. Any skill can be practiced with proficiency or without, and any teacher or coach will need ways to express the difference. Critical thinking and nonviolent communication are no different in that regard, except in the pungency pun·gent
1. Affecting the organs of taste or smell with a sharp acrid sensation.
a. Penetrating, biting, or caustic: pungent satire.
b. of terms like 'jackal-thinking' or 'life-alienated.' The encouragement, even tacit, to fancy ourselves engaged in conversations with jackals, or to file their concerns under 'life-alienated thinking,' can be flattery Flattery
toady to his employer. [Br. Lit.: Dombey and Son]
fawningly complains of Amos to King Jeroboam. [O.T.: Amos 7:10]
one who flatters by pretending humility. [Br. Hist. enough to ego and to haste.
His advice never to hear thoughts may be helpful in those bitter disputes of long standing where bad faith is so firmly entrenched en·trench also in·trench
v. en·trenched, en·trench·ing, en·trench·es
1. To provide with a trench, especially for the purpose of fortifying or defending.
2. that only a drastic measure to disrupt the established pattern of communication can get the parties to begin to listen at all. Many examples from his work in tribal disputes, or even long-standing family issues, do have that character. But as a general rule it seems likely to create exactly that kind of situation out of simpler ones that could otherwise be easy to resolve. It establishes a speech rule under which matters of concern or dispute common and important among serious people may be inexpressible, dismissed, and unheard. A person who steps outside the speech rule to try to explain the trouble may, in the trap Goffman called 'looping,' (45) find that effort itself dismissed for the same reason.
There is a communication principle famous in engineering for its use between machines, while its author, Jon Postel (person) Jon Postel - (Jonathan Bruce Postel, 1943 - 1998-10-16) /p*-stel'/ One of the Internet's founding fathers. Jon's name is prominent on many of the fundamental standards on which the Internet is built, such as UDP. , is remembered for applying it with grace in the human sphere. "Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others" (46) is as deceptively simple to state as Rosenberg's essential principles. What it would add to them is a guard against Sprachregelung, against the metamorphosis metamorphosis (mĕt'əmôr`fəsĭs) [Gr.,=transformation], in zoology, term used to describe a form of development from egg to adult in which there is a series of distinct stages. of nonviolent communication into subtle violence done in its name. It asks only that we use the greatest care in putting our own feelings and concerns into the language we find best accommodates that care, and let others see that when they do the same, we will translate their language to our own in the best faith we can show. What's left is to listen, and hear--feelings, needs, and thoughts--not with giraffe ears only, but with a generous and fully engaged human intelligence. (47)
1. Marshall B. Rosenberg, The Basics of Nonviolent Communication: An Introductory Training, two video-cassettes, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 2001.
2. cnvc:: Center for Nonviolent Communication home page, 1 May 2005, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 4 May 2005 <http://www.cnvc.org>.
3. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 3m. For the reader's convenience, in each citation to this 200-minute, two-volume video, I have indicated the volume and approximate minutes from the opening title of that volume.
4. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 40m.
5. Marshall B. Rosenberg, cnvc:: The spiritual basis of NVC NVC Nonviolent Communication
NVC National Visa Center
NVC Napa Valley College (California)
NVC National Vocabulary Championship
NVC Nerve Conduction Velocity
NVC Nordvestconsult (Norway, Shipbuilder) , 6 Jan. 2005, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 4 May 2005 <http://www.cnvc.org/spiritual.htm>.
6. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 5m.
7. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 1m. Also in cnvc:: Chapter 1 of "Nonviolent Communication" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D., 6 Jan. 2005, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 4 May 2005 <http://www.cnvc.org/bookchap.htm>.
8. Kim Curtis and Terence Chea, "Chimps' Mauling of Man Examined," Chicago Tribune Chicago Tribune
Daily newspaper published in Chicago. The Tribune is one of the leading U.S. newspapers and long has been the dominant voice of the Midwest. Founded in 1847, it was bought in 1855 by six partners, including Joseph Medill (1823–99), who made the paper , 5 Mar. 2005, Chicago final ed., sec. 1:10.
9. Marshall B. Rosenberg, Anger and Domination Systems, 6 Jan. 2005, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 4 May 2005 <http://www.cnvc.org/anger.htm>; also Rosenberg, Spiritual.
10. Rosenberg, Basics 2: 7m.
11. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 53m.
12. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 31m.
13. cnvc:: Needs List, 25 Feb. 2005, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 4 May 2005 <http://www.cnvc.org/needs.htm>.
14. Linda Elder, "Critical Thinking and Emotional Intelligence," rev. of Emotional Intelligence, by Daniel Goleman Daniel Goleman (born March 7, 1946) is an internationally renowned author, psychologist, science journalist, and corporate consultant. His parents were college professors in Stockton, California, where his father taught world literature at what is now San Joaquin Delta College, , Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 16.2 (1996): 42.
15. Rosenberg, Anger.
16. Rosenberg, Basics 2: 14m.
17. Bertrand Russell, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell: 1914-1944, first American ed First American may refer to:
18. Rosenberg, Spiritual.
19. Throughout his writing. Representatively: Richard W. Paul, "Critical Thinking and the Critical Person," Thinking: The Second International Conference, Ed. D. N. Perkins, Jack Lochhead, and John Bishop (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1987) 376.
20. Rosenberg, Basics 2: 50-59m.
21. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 35m.
22. cnvc: Advanced Training, Day 1, with Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., raising your giraffe consciousness, 6 Jan. 2005, Center for Nonviolent Communication, 4 May 2005 <http://www.cnvc.org/clsldayl.htm>.
23. Elder 41.
24. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Bantam Bantam
Former city and sultanate, Java. It was located at the western end of Java between the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean. In the early 16th century it became a powerful Muslim sultanate, which extended its control over parts of Sumatra and Borneo. , 1995) 29.
25. Elder 37.
26. Goleman xiv.
27. An overview including critical perspectives can be found in Michael E. Bernard, ed., Inside Rational-Emotive Therapy: a Critical Appraisal Noun 1. critical appraisal - an appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation
appraisal, assessment - the classification of someone or something with respect to its worth of the Theory and Therapy of Albert Ellis (San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay. : Academic Press, 1989).
28. Goleman xii.
29. Rosenberg, Basics 1:10m.
30. Rosenberg, Anger.
31. Sarah van Gelder and Marshall B. Rosenberg, "The Language of Nonviolence," Yes!: A Journal of Positive Futures Fall 1998: 42.
32. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, revised and enlarged ed. (1965; New York: Penguin, 1977) 48.
33. Arendt 32.
34. Arendt 136.
35. Arendt 123.
36. Arendt 85, 109.
37. Erving Goffman Erving Goffman (June 11, 1922 – November 19, 1982), was a sociologist and writer. The 73rd president of American Sociological Association, Goffman's greatest contribution to social theory is his study of symbolic interaction in the form of dramaturgical perspective that , "On the Characteristics of Total Institutions: The Inmate World," The Prison: Studies in Institutional Organization and Change, ed. Donald R. Cressey (New York: Holt, 1961).
38. Goffman 18.
39. Goffman 22.
40. Goffman 17.
41. Goffman 23.
42. Goffman 46.
43. Rosenberg, Basics 1: 36m.
44. Arendt 297.
45. Goffman 39.
46. Postel's principle applies strictly to communications, not politics; it appeared in the specifications, here cited, of two core Internet technologies, where it daily permits millions of dissimilar machines to communicate so easily that nothing very interesting seems to be going on. The first reference contains the first appearance of the principle, clearly detailed; the second is the origin of the pithy pith·y
adj. pith·i·er, pith·i·est
1. Precisely meaningful; forceful and brief: a pithy comment.
2. Consisting of or resembling pith. form usually seen (if occasionally misconstrued). Jon Postel, ed., "DoD Standard Internet Protocol See Internet and TCP/IP.
(networking) Internet Protocol - (IP) The network layer for the TCP/IP protocol suite widely used on Ethernet networks, defined in STD 5, RFC 791. IP is a connectionless, best-effort packet switching protocol. ," RFC (Request For Comments) A document that describes the specifications for a recommended technology. Although the word "request" is in the title, if the specification is ratified, it becomes a standards document. 760, RFC-Editor Webpage, Jan. 1980, RFC Editor, 12 Sep. 2005 <http://www.rfceditor.org/rfc/rfc760.txt>, 21; Jon Postel, ed., "DoD Standard Transmission Control Protocol," RFC 761, RFC-Editor Webpage, Jan. 1980, RFC Editor, 12 Sep. 2005 <http://www.rfceditor.org/rfc/rfc761.txt>, 13.
47. The generous and engaged intelligence of Charles Coley coley
Brit an edible fish with white or grey flesh [perhaps from coalfish] , John Duvall, Margaret Favorite, Ernest McDaniel, Catherine Madsen, Sylvie Mrug, Jennifer Radecki, and Noemi Ybarra encouraged me and improved the article. Hilary Landau lan·dau
1. A four-wheeled carriage with front and back passenger seats that face each other and a roof in two sections that can be lowered or detached.
2. A style of automobile with a similar roof. Krivchenia brought the Rosenberg work to my attention; Beverly Nagel, the Goffman; and Phillip Wankat, the Ellis. The flaws I supplied without assistance.