Connecting across differences, transforming conflict from the inside out, and cultivating listening and healing communities: this is the heart of my consultation and teaching in churches, presbyteries, synods, seminaries, and elsewhere. As an introduction, this page contains portions of a recent workshop in which I explain, model, and coach others in connecting across differences by practicing compassionate communication, which is also called Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For an extended discussion of these topics, see my book, Transforming Church Conflict: Compassionate Leadership in Action.
From Whom I’ve Learned
(1:59) This first video sets the practice of compassionate communication in context. I explain where it comes from, who developed it, and just a bit of its impact around the world.
The Compassionate Communication Map
(1:39) The practices of honesty, empathy, and self-empathy make a world of difference whenever we are seeking mutual understanding, respect, and collaboration in our personal and professional relationships. This video defines these practices as part of the compassionate communication map—a map that helps us move toward connection with one another.
Two Kinds of Communication: Life-Enhancing and Life-Alienating
(2:49) With a little help from a jackal and a giraffe, this video differentiates communication that supports connection, care, and compassion from communication that isolates, divides, and drives us away from each other.
Being Honest, Being Real, Being Human
(4:43) Not all honesty is helpful, and not all niceness is real (or very nice). This video compares two forms of honesty and suggests that compassionate honesty builds up the body of Christ. This kind of honesty begins with “mutual seeing”—a basic element of being human and humanizing.
Translating Our Evaluations into Observations
(4:55) It might seem simple but it’s far from simplistic! This video describes a basic skill—learning to translate our judgments and evaluations into observations—that can help others to hear us and to take our concerns to heart.
Identifying, Experiencing, and Expressing Feelings
(4:56) Feelings motivate so much of human life, yet we rarely communicate them clearly with each other. Sometimes we’re unaware of the currents of emotion beneath the surface of our words. This video challenges some of our misconceptions about feelings and suggests that identifying, experiencing, and expressing our feelings is central to life-giving relationships.
Connecting with our Needs: Transforming Self-Judgment into Self-Compassion
(8:23) Needs are universal qualities that contribute to the flourishing of human life. When we identify and connect with our needs, understanding, appreciation, and self-acceptance replace regret, guilt, and judgment. In this video, Theresa coaches a woman to explore and dwell in the fullness of her needs rather than in her self-recrimination.
Two Ways to “Dog for Our Needs:” Meeting Needs and Greeting Needs
(5:34) This video begins with coaching a woman to speak authentically, assertively, and compassionately with her son using the four basic skills of compassionate communication—(O) making observations, (F) expressing feelings, (N) connecting with needs, and (R) making requests. It then wrestles with the all–too–real question: “What if someone refuses to support us in the ways that we’re requesting?”
God’s Compassion and Our Sympathy
(6:17) This video begins to differentiate among three related but distinct terms: compassion, sympathy, and empathy. It describes how compassion has its source in God’s vulnerability and how, in a derivative sense, we are all called to compassion. It then describes the ambiguity of sympathy in human relationships.
Living with Empathy
(9:06) Empathy is a critical dimension in transforming conflict and connecting across differences. In teams that work well together, empathy is present. This video defines empathy and suggests that we find God’s real presence in empathetic encounter with one another. It also gives some basic tips for developing empathetic skill.
From Self-Empathy to Prayer
(3:32) Too often, we speak to ourselves harshly—judging and “should-ing” on ourselves. Self-empathy helps us deal with our own regret, guilt, and self-recrimination as well as judgment and criticism from others. This video briefly describes how self-empathy helps us connect with what matters most to us in any given situation. It then suggests that self-empathy naturally leads to prayer, through which we bring all our needs to God in and through whom they ultimately are fulfilled.