The Second Building Block of Connection
(Time to read & try: ~ 3-5 minutes)
As we saw last time, the first building block of connection is external sensory data – which we call “observation”.
The second building block of connection is your internal sensory data.
To access our inner sensory data, we check with our bodies, which are capable of incredibly rapid integration of enormous amounts of data – and which summarize and convey this information to us in the form of our feelings.
They are like an inner compass.
The Importance & Value of Feelings
Now maybe you already knew this. Or maybe you’re like me, and you haven’t valued feelings much – believing that they get you in trouble or lead you astray. And I have certainly used feeling data in some very ineffective ways.
But researchers have discovered that feelings are essential for making rapid & effective decisions – we can’t do it based on our thinking mind alone.
So being able to quickly and accurately identify how we feel is essential to making decisions that will serve us well. Used effectively, feelings are like an inner compass to help us get where we want to go.
In the next email in this series, we’ll start to talk about how to use feeling data effectively. For now, let’s focus on understanding what NVC means by feelings, which may be different than other perspectives you’ve encountered.
Understanding the NVC Perspective on Feelings
- Our feelings let us know whether a situation is working for us or not. So they fall into
two basic categories: “things are okay” or “things are not okay – do something”.
- Also, we may feel many things at the same time – letting us know that some aspects of a situation may be working for us, and other aspects not.
- In the English language, the words “I feel” are often followed by words and phrases that are
not feelings as NVC understands them. Sometimes these words are followed by thoughts – as in “I feel that you should take out the trash.”
Other times “I feel” is followed by a word such as “ignored” or “criticized” – something that is not just about our inner sensory data, but that includes an interpretation of someone else’s intention. If I focus just on my inner sensory data, I might discover that I feel sad or lonely.
- It’s much easier to recognize which words match how we feel. So that’s how we’ll do the test drive.
“Test Driving” NVC Feelings
There are two feeling “test drives” available:
- Go here for the short version – if you are interested in getting the gist of this building block for connection, and/or time is of the essence.
- If you enjoy the subtle nuances of language and/or feelings, you might enjoy the longer version
(60 “positive” words in 5 categories, plus “negative” words if you need them).