How do you stay connected with others in these unprecedented times? 3 insights from the My connections Masterclass

In these challenging times, relationships and connections with others have become more important and precious than ever. Suddenly, we can only communicate from a distance, and we no longer have physical contact with the people in our lives. How can you make sure you keep up connections with your friends, family and community? Els Van Beveren, trainer in nonviolent communication at Walk Your Talk, gave us the inside scoop during the My connections webinar. Were you unable to attend? We've summarised the three key takeaways below!


The core of nonviolent communication

The need for social interaction has probably never been greater. The explosive growth in video chats and the nightly clapping for healthcare workers are just a few examples of this. But in order to create and maintain lasting connections, we must first think about ourselves. Because all of us have experienced feelings during this crisis that are completely new to us. Naturally, that has an impact on the way we communicate. And if we start expressing our emotions by criticising others, people are much less likely to listen. All of the focus then switches to the way we communicate our feelings, which results in the message itself getting lost.

It's time to dig deep into yourself and ask yourself some questions:

  • What version of myself do I want to present to the world?
  • What can I do to take care of myself?
  • How do I care for other people and society as a whole?


Some underlying principles

Once you have answered the above questions, you will have taken the first step towards communicating for connectedness. To this end, Els Van Beveren also refers to the scientific model of nonviolent communication, based on Marshall Rosenberg's vision. The late American psychologist caused a furore with his concept. His vision? People need to be aware of the freedom and choices they have when interacting with others.

More concretely, this model is based on the following building blocks:

  • observations
  • feelings
  • needs
  • request

If you want to put this into practice, you should start by taking a moment for yourself three times a day. Think about your thoughts and emotions in an objective way. It's important to let yourself feel your feelings, whether it's fear, frustration or joy. Any emotion can be there.

What needs do you experience at such times? What do you think is important? This can be time for yourself, but also a daily chat with a friend. And then it's simply a matter of finding practical ways to meet these needs. For example, taking a 30-minute walk every day, calling a friend, or singing along to the radio. You’ll find that these forms of self-care create inner peace.

Once you learn this, you’ll also be able to communicate with more awareness and show empathy towards others. You can start with a small gesture every day that makes someone else's life better and nicer. This also reinforces the idea that you are not alone, and that you, too, can make a contribution. It’s a way to offset and neutralise negative emotions such as fear and frustration.


Tips on communicating for connectedness

Communicating with more awareness and empathy will become a lot easier. In any event, take time to have meaningful conversations with your family members and colleagues. Ask them how they're doing. Don't just talk about practical and fact-based subjects, but also about the relationship and the emotions and needs that come with it.

Did a certain emotion come up during the conversation? Embrace it with your full awareness and dare to express your feelings. Do it in a constructive way. Even if you're angry, don't respond immediately. Express what you feel, what you think is important instead of criticising.

If your conversation partner gets snappy or judgemental, try to forgive him/her. Let it pass, and communicate a little later how you feel or what you think. Again: without playing the blame game.

Conclusion: look for a way to take good care of yourself while at the same time being considerate of other people around you. If you communicate clearly about your own needs and listen to those of others, you're well on your way to success!


Intrigued? Watch the complete My connections webinar in French or Dutch, or have a look at our other online training courses!