That’s a Demand!

“The intention behind the protective use of force is only to protect, not to punish, blame, or condemn.”

Marshall Rosenberg

 

There’s a story of a teacher who had been teaching her students Non Violent Communication. This is a communication process that connects the individual with what they are feeling and needing. During this teaching process the teacher spoke of requests and demands. She briefly mentioned that when making a demand the person the demand is directed at cannot say “no.” When a person in “power” demands something from you, you cannot say “no” or there will be consequences. When there is a request directed at you, you are able to say “no.” Non Violent Communication is a language of requests. If a person using Non Violent Communication uses a demand it needs to be quite clear that it is a demand. The teacher taught this to her class.

 

One day, there was a conflict in her classroom. It looked like this conflict might become a physical confrontation between two big students in her classroom. She stepped in and told both students to back off and “sit in your seats, now!” As both students were moving back to their seats another student in the class, one who sits in the back of the room and was not involved in the situation stated matter of factly, “That was a demand.” The teacher said, “That’s right it was but it needed to happen because there was limited time to discuss feelings and needs before the situation got physical.” The teacher went on to say that the demand was made out of what is known as “protective use of force.” Making sure there was safety involved for everyone in the class not only the two who were in conflict the teacher demanded that they sit down. In this case it worked.

 

After the class was over the teacher was celebrating, celebrating the connectedness that one student had to the situation. The ability to recognize what was going on within a stressful situation. The teacher was celebrating that she knew exactly why she had made the demand and that it worked – her class and her students were safe. Through this experience the teacher was able to discuss the value of NVC within the classroom, to point out the concept of protective use of force in order to bring a sense of peace and safety for the class.

 

It is interesting the opportunities life offers us to be aware of our feelings and needs and to connect to others and ourselves.

Mark

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