On Requests

I want to share some of my ideas about requests, as it is used in Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Each of the 4 parts of NVC syntax are essential, and we can easily practice only one of them in any interaction, and have better results than if we don’t. But being in touch with feelings as they are alive, even communicating them, won’t change the world. Creating presence to what is, what has happened, what I saw someone doing, is sanity-genic, but again, won’t change the world – although it sure is powerful way to get underneath a lot of everyday assumptions. Connecting deeply to the humanity and inherent innocence of any act through awareness and guessing of universal needs is again superbly useful, and have the power to de-escalate interpersonal dynamics very effectively.

Alas, requests, are on a different order of magnitude. When I ask for something – that is concrete and immediate enough for the other person to say “yes” or “no” to – it is my responsibility to be open to their “no” with equal love as if they say “yes”. In other words, for a request to be an actual request, I have to let go of my agenda, my preferred outcome, my strategy for meeting whatever need is up in the moment. Be open and willing to receive, yes. Hold on to the inherent beauty of my universal need, yes. But the role of others is not to tend to my every whim, it is to be honest, and connected to and caring about *their* needs.

So, to make a request, a personal asking someone for something that would meet a need or two for me, I have to preemtively surrender to their response. Be willing to explore their “no”. Be willing to take full responsibility for whatever upset might come about for me, in face of a “no”.

This brings me to the present moment. This brings me to stand in full partnership with the person I make a request of, that we are equals in this little interchange. I will not withdraw my love from them. I will keep the responsibility for my needs in my court. I expect the same from them.

To me, this is so similar to any activity. As I take action, I surrender to the result of that action. I don’t do something to gain points, or generate a particular response or outcome. I act to try to meet a current need. No eyes on the price, no attachment to outcome, no addiction to “the fruit of my labor”. There has to be that kind of “unity with oneself” that my teacher Daaji talked about recently, to notice what is true inside, and share it because its true, not because of wanting a particular result.


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