Yoram Mosenzon - Vulnerable Honesty

By Mirjam van den Berg - Mar 29th, 2015

Yoram Mosenzon has been a Nonviolent Communication teacher for the last fifteen years, traveling the world to teach people better communication skills. What is Nonviolent Communication? It is a unique practice of listening to oneself and others, not a program against bullying, as you may think. It is a technique developed by the late Marshall Rosenberg, which assumes that every judgement is an expression of a beautiful need. Instead of claiming there is something ‘wrong’ with the other person, you learn how to communicate from your own needs. In this type of communication, both kids and adults learn to resolve conflicts between arguing parties on a personal, organisational and even international level. Through his trainings, Mosenzon helps people connect in a real way, communicating in a vulnerably honest way. 

When Yoram Mosenzon walks up onto the stage he immediately makes his point. He is silent for at least 15 seconds and then tells the audience he is actually more comfortable when he meets dogs. ‘With people my whole body is sweaty and shaky.’ As a communication specialist you might think he wouldn’t be uncomfortable up on stage, but Mosenzon choose to be vulnerably honest instead. The public opens up to him immediately, it seems to be ok to be really honest.

 

Meet Yoram Mosenzon

As we grow up, we are taught to hide many parts of ourselves. If someone at a party asked, ‘How are you?’  the Yoram of fifteen years ago would have said, ‘Fine, good.’ This is, truth be told, often far from reality. ‘FINE can actually mean: Fucking Incapable of Naming Emotions; GOOD: I feel Gloomy, Overworked, Overwhelemed and Definitely not trusting that you would appreciate it if I would share that with you.’ It seems that somewhere along the way we stop telling each other the truth.

 

The Jackal and the Giraffe

Yoram Mosenzon talks about two kinds of honesty. On one hand, judgemental Jackal honesty that creates conflict and on the other, powerful Giraffe honesty that creates genuine compassion. The latter is what Nonviolent Communication is. To explain this concept, Yoram uses Giraffe and Jackal hand puppets on stage, which makes it funny and very easy to understand.

A Jackal knows absolutely what is wrong and right, good and bad. He is judgemental and negative, always finds what is wrong with someone else. ‘That’s a lie, it’s not describing what’s really going on.’ For example, when you get home after a rough day you want to talk to your girlfriend, but she tells you she has no time for you now. The Jackal in you would say your girlfriend is ‘Selfish… and what’s more, looks like her mother!’. Unfortunately that will only make it worse. The Giraffe would say: ‘I am sad and would love some help, I had a fight at work today. Do you have any time today to listen to me?’ Which one of these would open your heart and make you want to help out?

 

What can we do with Nonviolent Communication in education?

No one is specifically trained in communication when they grow up, yet communication is the most important life skill, according to Yoram. ‘In my understanding, schools are there in order to prepare children for life. That’s why I am here at TEDxAmsterdamED. You will always have to deal with people, when you get a job, for instance, or when you make your own little people.’ Communicating seems to be essential for us human beings. Even when you’re alone, you are communicating with yourself all day long. How would being able to communicate better change the life of kids growing up? Together with a team of people, Yoram is working to open a so-called Giraffe School for children between the ages of 0 and 21, by July 2015. Teaching Nonviolent Communication skills will play a central role in this school. Nonviolent Communication can lead the way for social change and revolutionise our methods of education. Kids will learn how to communicate in a genuinely compassionate way and know how to solve conflicts. What a beautiful world that will be.

 

Photography © Iris Uffen www.irisuffen.com

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