Belle Meade offers ‘compassionate communication’ session

From contributed reports
The Rappahannock community is invited to attend an introduction to compassionate communication at Belle Meade School in Sperryville on Sunday, Sept. 19 from 3 to 6 p.m.

Lorinda Bosch and Terri Zweig will lead the session, which offers participants a chance to develop communication skills based on conscious recognition of needs and values. The workshop is in conjunction with a four-month instructional program called Cultivating Compassion, in which all Belle Meade School students and staff are participating. Before the school year began, Bosch and Zweig led Belle Meade staff in an eight-hour in-service training in the approach.

Cultivating Compassion instruction at Belle Meade is based on Nonviolent Communication (NVC), an approach developed by Marshall Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist, after he worked with civil rights activists and recognized the importance of effective, mutually respectful communication skills for peacemaking and conflict resolution. The Center for Nonviolent Communication, which Rosenberg founded, offers NVC training in more than 60 countries.

The Compassionate Communication process has been described as containing four ingredients (observation, feelings, needs, and requests) and one attitude: “the intention of connection.” Through practice, individuals can learn to clarify what they are observing, what emotions they are feeling, what values they want to live by, and what they want to ask of themselves and others. Compassionate Communication can transform conflict by fostering understanding and compassion both within individuals and with others. It can be used in everyday conversation, in conflict situations, and therapeutically.

“At Belle Meade School we value awareness:  being aware of the impact of our actions on our environment, on ourselves, and on others.,” said Belle Meade founder Susan Hoffman. “Compassionate Communication deepens one’s awareness of oneself and others.”

Belle Meade students and staff say that the Compassionate Communication approach is already contributing to improved communication and learning there.

Belle Meade’s 22-hour Compassionate Communication curriculum follows ideas described in “The No-Fault Classroom” by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson, a book aimed at fostering “relationship intelligence.” It includes techniques drawn from a variety of educational approaches, such as Heart Math, Brain Gym, yoga, martial arts, journaling, role-playing and educational games. The goal, Bosch explained, is to enhance self-awareness and give each student a “tool box” of choices to use in their daily interactions.

To learn more about Belle Meade School: www.bellemeadeschool.org. To learn more about NVC: www.capitalnvc.org.

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