Construx Indux 2013: Marshall Rosenberg

2:20:00 PMPaul

That's right. "That puppet guy" as he's been referenced by some with whom I've discussed him. I
won't say it was an easy choice at all, even though I had at least three other candidates in mind since our last anniversary. It is easy, however, to discuss why Marshall's lectures on Non Violent Communication have been so important to my development as a human and a communicator. And I will do so in due time.

 First, allow me to quickly recount the story of my discovery of NVC. It was the fall of 2011 and the guys at Construx had been putting in some hefty hours in composing news skits and committing them to the internet. Well, while reviewing a particularly zany PBJ Nightmare, Ian noticed the Youtube recommendations at the video's end. It was a three hour lecture conducted by Marshall. Why it was linked, what keywords matched or what algorithm the masterminds at a pre-Google-owned Youtube devised to connect the two will forever be beyond my intellectual grasp of understanding, but I investigated it because the video still was indeed, Marshall making eye contact with puppets.

Being that I was at work I didn't have time to watch the whole thing that day, but I was intrigued by his discussion of Within the first ten minutes of this video, Marhsall discusses concepts such as jackal language, the difference between nonviolent communication and "dead, nice" language which most people associate with modern psychobabble and bullshit sissy-talk. He also sang a song about natural giving and discussed, via the puppetry medium, how children are essentially trained from the first to be either penitent or punitive, either the willing doormat recipient of a "deserving" dressing-down or the incipient of it, which is just as bad and harmful place to be. It fit in with so many ideas that had developed inside of me throughout the previous ten years, albeit slowly. It echoed them, but more importantly, articulated them. It helped me understand that there is a more intelligent way of explaining to someone what you need from them, why you feel frustrated by your interactions with them and why everyone always has a choice and isn't bound by obligation to anyone. That last one certainly resonated, as our family's entire existence hinged on the concept of self-sacrifice in the name of obligation and subservience.

Those with even a fleeting familiarity with the cXnX oeuvre know that we grew up in a household where blame was the most important determinant in any interaction, who was owed what and who had done who wrong and what the appropriate punishment was. This is obvious and fairly normal I guess, for kids of our era. But the issue remained for so long that I carried this format for discussion and dispute into my adulthood, costing me some very important and fulfilling relationships and opportunities. To be completely candid, I could say that my inability to express myself as well as the isolation I felt that no one shared these ideals heavily contributed to my use of alcohol as an outlet. To be clear, that's not a defense for any previous actions in my life or (if you're someone I've hurt) people I've hurt while either in my right mind or not. This is merely an analysis. I also strongly believe that my exposure to NVC has helped me become more whole of a person, enabling me to really assess whether alcohol or other outlets for destructive behavior is in any way benefiting me. In short, I encountered an easily accessible, fully formed, complete treatise on how to behave with others to help myself as well as them.

I haven't met many people who share my enthusiasm for NVC and I'll never force it on anyone. For me, though, it's been an excellent reminder of things I already know: never compromise, never do anything you don't fully enjoy and want to do, you are in complete control of your life but also responsible for every action and every choice you make. If you are someone reading this and saying to yourself, "Well, this is obvious. Everybody knows all of this. This isn't earth shattering at all [etc.]" then I respond by asking if you actively access those supposed truisms at every moment of your life or if they're just in your back pocket while your sorta go along with what you think's expected of you? Like I say, this certainly isn't a set of lessons to be embraced by everyone, but it's helped me develop and mature over the last (nearly) two years and feel like a useful person with something to offer the world (in direct opposition to what I was led to believe for the first 20 years of my life). I will leave you with one more link here. If you jump to about 26 minutes in the video, Marshall plays my favorite song of his.


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