Karen Forster

Equinox Staff


Overwhelmed, stressed, and upset? You aren’t the only one.

Listening and applying others’ feelings in order to successfully solve a problem became the evident message that KSC student Barbara Woods Langlais expressed in her workshop titled, “Compassionate Communication.” Langlais held a workshop mainly focused on  psychology students to express, explain, and help them apply Marshall Rosenberg’s model for nonviolent communication.

The workshop included a presentation of the model, meditation exercises, group discussions, and role-playing activities. Langlais set up the workshop in a circle, explained the four-step process and soon involved the group members by having them introduce themselves and discuss how they were feeling at the current moment.

Open and honest answers seemed to come out of the psychology students who attended.

Jessica Morrison said, “I’m anxious and nervous, but also excited and hopeful because I have a job interview tomorrow.”

Jessica Atkinson responded, “I feel content, I’ve been keeping up with my schoolwork so I’m more proud of myself this semester.”

Atkinson later admitted she may not have been so content as she said, “Personally, I was a little uncomfortable sharing my own stories, but I thought that when others shared it really benefitted the workshop. It gave me a better understanding after one of my classmates stated that we all have sides to our stories, and if we just recognize that we will be able to work better with one another.”

Langlais explained how common it is in our lives to encounter conflict. She said, “Conflict happens. It brings a continuum of intensity into our lives and the importance lies behind how we respond and manage that conflict.”

She continued, “It can be polarizing and destructive or it can actually be very enriching both interpersonally and intra-personally.

Langlais explained that in order to gain an enriching outcome, remain respectful and hear one another and listen by applying Rosenberg’s model and his four-step process.

Atkinson said, “I think that I will definitely try to apply the model to my life because the overall idea of it is to gain empathy for others and even yourself. If we apply empathy then that can reduce the likelihood of violence occurring. ”

Atkinson explained how important it is for people to use these steps because it’s beneficial for both sides of a conflict.

“Within our culture it is posed as a weakness if one states their feelings to another person. If we all just gain the understanding that it is okay to feel what we feel and not hide it, people may be less prone to develop a wall.”

Langlais explained Rosenberg’s four-step model: observation of the situation, understanding feelings, recognizing the needs that are a result of those feelings, and understanding the requests that would honor everyone’s needs within the present situation.

Langlais said our primary objective is to connect and see each other’s humanness.

“According to Rosenberg, it’s important to separate the individual from their behavior and basic human needs are intercultural and universal.”

Langlais also explained why this model has been beneficial for her.

“It helped me to understand that everyone is going to focus on their needs first, because ultimately you’re the only one you can take care of those needs. It helped me realize that it’s important to find a balance between meeting your needs, while also having the compassion towards others’ needs.”

Atkinson agreed, saying, “If we apply empathy, then that can reduce the likelihood of violence occurring. We also gain a better understanding of the person who we are trying to apply the four-step process to, whether they be someone else or ourselves.”

Langlais is currently on the path for certification as a trainer for the Center of Nonviolent Communication through the Nonviolent Communication Academy and is currently enrolled as a KSC student working towards a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications.


Karen Forster can be contacted at kforster@keene-equinox.com



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