Connecting Across Differences …Kommen Sie Mit!

I currently am in Germany, getting ready to lead four days of NVC workshops in Frankfurt. I also am excited about Connecting across Differences coming out in German this summer! To celebrate both,  over the next few months I’ll be posting excerpts and exercises from the book presented by Jennifer Coleman, a candidate for CNVC Certification, as guest editor.  I hope you enjoy this mini-series and am looking forward to seeing some of you in Germany this week!!

And here’s Jennifer! …

Welcome to the first in a 6-month series celebrating the translation of Connecting Across Differences into German this July.   I will be your guest editor on this journey where we will highlight excerpts from this NVC book that has become loved around the world.  I also will showcase some of the exercises available to connect you to your feelings and needs, which will connect you to yourself and ultimately to others.  

Certainly one way to connect is through sharing language and translating our message into different languages.  In fact learning to identify our feelings and needs and being able to listen empathetically to others is a type of translation…the ability to really hear the “heart” of messages we are wanting to communicate.

In this age of globalization with technical capabilities that allow us all to be ‘plugged-in’ and connected 24 hours a day, it’s difficult to imagine that many of us feel lonelier and more disconnected than ever.  I have found that getting ‘plugged-in’ to my feelings and needs opens up a deeper and more rewarding connection with myself and others than I ever thought possible.  Now, let’s have some fun getting acquainted with words to describe feelings and how we can get in touch with how we experience these feelings.   “Kommen Sie Mit” means, ‘Come Along” so  let’s get started!   Excerpts from the book will be in blue.

EXERCISE 4: The Movement of Emotions (from Connecting across Differences)

Have you noticed how quickly feelings can change for young children? At one moment, a child may be smiling and laughing, and the next moment they burst into tears. There’s no evidence that children experience more feelings than adults; regardless of age, we probably all encounter similar ranges. The difference may be that children tend to be more in touch with what they’re feeling, more inclined to express it, and less experienced in hiding it.  

As adults, our feelings can also shift in intensity and degree—from apprehension to fear or terror, from satisfaction to happiness or elation. Our feelings change in response to what we’re experiencing in the moment, and how we interpret that experience. We may feel perfectly excited, happy, and satisfied as we head off in the sunshine to enjoy a day at the beach. Then, after being stuck in traffic for an hour and then cut off by a big SUV, we may feel completely different—frustrated, hot, and annoyed! Feelings are not frivolous or irrational; they are indicators of how we are responding to stimuli in the moment. That feelings change easily and quickly is simply a sign of how quickly circumstances, and our thoughts about them, can change; being aware of our feelings can help us respond effectively to what is happening in the here and now.

Think back over the day, or even the last three hours. What feelings have come and gone during that time? See if you can link those feelings to your thoughts about specific stimuli in your environment. Try keeping a “feeling and sensation journal” one day, or even half a day, this week. Note the time of the day, what you are feeling, any sensations you notice, and where you feel them. You may also wish to notice whether you can identify a stimulus (something in the environment and/or your experience that may have triggered the response you have). Below is an example:

Time                      Sensation(s)                    Feeling(s)           Thought/Stimulus

7 p.m.                   clenching in chest            anxious                taxes due in two days

In keeping a feelings journal, experiment also by expanding your feelings vocabulary.  One way to do this is to search antonyms and synonyms for your most used feeling (mine was ‘upset’ for about a decade!) and see where that brings you.  As an example, here are the many shades of upset.  Check in with yourself as you keep a journal to see if you can delve deeper into the feeling.

UPSET – Disquiet –  Agitated – Disturbed – Restless – Startled – Uneasy – Uncomfortable – Unsettled

Thanks for reading this first, special guest blog post. Dian and I both hope that you enjoyed it. Let us know what you think and if you have any questions!


Jennifer Coleman (guest editor)

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