The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Let's Play a Game

At this time of year, in western-styled nations, it is a time of holidays, a time for families to get together.  Often that means getting out a board game and playing it for an hour or two, maybe after the evening meal.  What are we likely to pull out?  Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Scattergories?  Maybe something even older: dominoes, chess, ludo, snakes and ladders.

Have you ever noticed that all of these are competitively based?  There are winners and losers.  Often, it’s an all-or-nothing outcome.

There are some games, however, that teach us more collaborative approaches to life and relationships. 

One such that I recently had a chance to try out was GROK it!1  Rather than a single game though, GROK it! is a kit of 150 games and exercises all designed to teach the skills and techniques of nonviolent communication.  But wait, there’s more.  Included in the kit are manuals, resources, background notes, inspirational stories and poems.  Enough to keep an entire family occupied for many holiday evenings.

I recently took along a couple of the games and exercises to a group of men who mentor other men.2  We had time to play just one of the games that explore our feelings.  We learnt about feelings, false feelings, and the difference between feelings and perceptions.  The men were keen to further explore the exercises contained in the kit, suggesting to me that the exercises are engaging, fun, and have something to teach us all.

Nonviolent communication (NVC) was developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s whilst working with civil rights activists.  The NVC model of communication has four components:  observations, needs, feelings, and requests.
  • Observations are what we see, hear, touch, taste etc., and are to be distinguished from judgements or evaluations. 
  • NVC holds that all our actions are intended to get our needs met, and that conflict occurs not because of differing needs, but because of differing strategies used to get our needs met. 
  • Our feelings arise from either having our needs met, or having them not met.  It is important to be able to recognise that feelings and thoughts are completely different and that some things that we believe to be feelings turn out to be thoughts in disguise – what the GROK it! designers call false feelings. 
  • Finally, requests are not the same as demands meaning that the requestor must be open to getting “no” for an answer, and then not use force in order to have the “request” met.
Jean Morrison and Christine King, the creators of GROK it! are NVA trainers and have developed these exercises and games as tools in their training.  They have now made these exercises, games, tools, handouts, worksheets, and resources available, at minimal cost, to those who wish to gain a better understanding and expertise in nonviolent communication.  They have done a wonderful job in putting this kit together.  I would thoroughly recommend obtaining this kit for your family, your workplace, or as a resource kit for those working in social change organisations.

1. Grok is a word taken from Robert Heinlein’s science-fiction book Stranger in a Strange Land and means “to drink” or, in this setting “to take it all in.”

2. MENtors for Men is a voluntary group, based in Coffs Harbour (Australia) who offer their time as mentors for other men.

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