How are you?/ Comment allez-vous?/ Wie geht es dir?/ Come stai? / Hur mår du?/ Cómo estás?/ Kif int?'/ Aap kaise hain?/ nǐ hǎo ma?/ Genki desu ka? /How ya going?
Whatever the language, How are you ? is a common, universally used phrase to greet one another. It is also the first of two central questions at the heart of the practice of Nonviolent Communication:
This question is fundamental to the practice of NVC because when we enquire with an intention to actually listen to the answers, (rather than listen to reply), this is the first step to being in empathy with others.
(And when we ask ourselves how we really are then we can also find deeper connection within ourselves).
We ask the question because we can’t assume to know how someone else really is, (even if we can sometimes guess or think we know ), and if we don’t really know then how can we respond ?
In this time of COVID- 19 it seems to me that the question of how are you? is more pertinent than ever. Yes, we are asking after health of course, but mostly we are asking about emotional health and wellbeing :
Are you fearful for your own health?/ Anxious and worried about all the uncertainty in the world right now ?/ Annoyed with under reactions or over reactions to the virus?/ Desperate or scared about financial security? / Lonely, bored or isolated? / Worried about elders at risk who may be frightened? / Or frustrated at elders who are not frightened enough!?
People around me are slowing down, tuning in and reaching out to one another asking the question. And I'm thinking that this level of connectivity and united 'togetherness' is perhaps the hidden gift in this unprecedented situation of social chaos, uncertainty and disconnection.
Which brings me to the second question at the forefront of NVC:
Why this question? Because the purpose of NVC is to enrich life. Not just your life or my life, but LIFE, at large. To focus on the questions of how we can make the social, environmental and economic changes to support each other to not just survive, but thrive. As the founder of NVC Dr Marshall Rosenberg put it :
I am touched at how many friends have been calling me throughout this week to ask me these two important questions. Feeling grateful, and celebrating the sense of community support and care. I'm committed to doing my part in that too: letting people know they matter to me, taking a pie to my neighbour, picking up the phone, stopping what I’m doing and taking the time to ask:
How are you? and How can I make your life more wonderful?
I'd love to hear from you if you need any support.