Free online mini-course “Banter or bullying: where do you draw your line?”

My new course is ready to go!  Banter or bullying: Where do you draw your line?

The topic of banter came up a lot in my interviews with young women – those little comments which could be a bit fun and flirty, but just don’t sound right at work, or they come from the wrong person or in the wrong context.  They might be ok in the pub but in a business meeting where you are the only woman, they undermine your authority and your confidence.

This course Banter or Bullying: Where do you draw your line?  is designed to help you trust your judgement in the moment that something didn’t sound right.  It also helps you feel grounded enough so that you can choose how to respond.

Using the skills of Nonviolent Communication, you will learn how to check in with yourself in any situation, to know exactly what it is you are longing for.  You will learn how to support yourself so that you don’t get that sense of panic and overwhelm when you hear something undermining.

Why improving diversity is a nonviolent act.

We think of diversity and inclusion as policies which organisations adopt to improve their demographic balance.  There are programmes to support and empower women, people of colour and people from the LGBTQI community and these are all to be welcomed.  For me, diversity goes way beyond a process for creating opportunities for marginalised groups.  For me, accepting and encouraging diversity is a nonviolent act.

Quakers are “called to live ‘in the virtue of that life and power that takes away the occasion of all wars’.”  We are asked to “Search out whatever in your own way of life may contain the seeds of war.” (Advices and Queries, no. 31).  The unconscious bias and privilege that we carry with us every day are part of that way of life which may contain the seeds of war.  Challenging them are acts of nonviolence.

Nonviolence in action

Nonviolence is not just the absence of physical violence, it is the presence of something different, something that Martin Luther King called justiceMarshall Rosenberg chose Nonviolent Communication as the name of his ground-breaking process to draw a link with Gandhi’s practice of nonviolent resistance to oppression.  Underlying any violence, physical, verbal, emotional, is some kind of separation between you and me, between us and them.  When the group called ‘us’ looks different to the group called ‘them’, it makes it a lot easier to put that wall up and a lot harder to break it down.

Recognition of the shared humanity of ‘us’ and ‘them’ is the foundation of diversity and inclusion work.  When we are each part of a greater whole called ‘us’ the divisions slip away.

The importance of history

To try and create a nonviolent and inclusive world from now will be an empty task without recognition of the violence of history.  The historic freedom to build that wall between us and them has always been indicative of, and constructive of, power relations.  The capacity to define who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’, is the power to judge ‘them’ as lesser.  The one who tells the story of who is in and who is out has the power to exclude and banish from view those they do not consider to belong.  It is the power to dominate and it is profoundly violent.  

Wherever we choose to be now, we are not coming from the same place.  Women have only a few generations in the workplace behind them.  People from underprivileged backgrounds in the UK have only had access to the benefits of higher education and health care since the 2nd world war and the massive rise in tuition fees over the last decade has reversed that opportunity.  People from formerly colonised parts of the world or whose personal histories contain stories of forced migration, carry with them that experience of powerlessness.   The recent series It’s a Sin on UK television has vividly depicted just how recent it was that coming out at work would be tantamount to career suicide.  

Colonialism, sexism, homophobia, and policies which restrict access to good quality education and health care are all in themselves violent acts. Approaches to diversity which do not recognise the burden of history are merely surface dressing. 

Yes, diversity is a cornerstone of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and that is a good thing.  And it is so much more than shifting the demographic of your workforce.  It is an opportunity to shine a light on histories of domination and move towards a more peaceful and equitable future.

Image by Joshua J Cotten on Unsplash

Call out for interviewees!

Are you female, under 35 and working in a male-dominated field?

If so, I would love to hear from you.

I am developing some online personal development courses for young women in male-dominated industries and I would love to interview a few people to make sure that the courses are going to be as useful for women as they can be.  The courses will address confidence issues, working in or leading teams of men, building your network etc and I would love to know what would support you.

All I ask is half an hour of your time to have a chat about what you love about your job and what would make it more wonderful.

If you would like to be involved, email me at jenny@jennytipping.co.uk.

If you would like to hear more about the courses and groups I have coming up, please sign up to my newsletter

I look forward to hearing from you!

Jenny

What is Nonviolent Communication?

What is Nonviolent Communication? 

NVC was developed by Marshall Rosenberg, an American psychologist, in the 1960s. On a purely practical level it is a series of steps to follow, to increase your understanding of why you are feeling and acting the way you are and to then understand the same in others. 

“With Nonviolent Communication (NVC) we learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC helps us discover the depth of our own compassion. This language reveals the awareness that all human beings are only trying to honor universal values and needs, every minute, every day.” (From website of Center for Nonviolent Communication)

On a consciousness level it is about a commitment to deep connection with the self and with others and through that radically altering the way that humans relate to each other.  At its core it focusses on fundamental human needs and the understanding that in any situation all anyone is trying to do is meet their needs.  Once you become aware of what the need is that you or someone else is trying to meet, it is a lot easier to empathise and start to understand someone’s behaviour.  

Between those two poles of the practical and the conscious, there is where we all place ourselves as practitioners and trainers of Nonviolent Communication.  For me, rather than just telling somebody the importance of empathy in leadership, I like to give a very clear process for what that means and how it might happen.  It is a tool for self-connection so that in any situation you can understand your own motivations better and through that you can create the capacity within you to understand other people’s motivations better.  

What does NVC mean to me?

Where my interest lies, especially in the work I do in male-dominated industries, is in finding ways for people to communicate so that diversity and creating a more diverse team, is a lot less scary and just flows easily.  It is also about bringing our awareness to what is a choice and how much of the way things are – our typical habits and ways of relating to each other – are part of a pattern that can easily be changed, while still staying authentic.  For me it is about changing the small picture while always keeping an eye on the big picture.

How did I get into NVC?

I first heard about NVC while at a festival down in Dorset.  I didn’t go to the workshop but was intrigued by the name.  Then in 2014 I left a relationship and I knew that communication had been a serious issue for us.  I bought Marshall’s book and read it, ticking off all the things that he and I had done that contributed to the relationship not working!  From then I was hooked.  I went to my first course in 2015, started on the path to certification as a trainer in 2017 and would hopefully have certified in 2020 had COVID not got in the way.

Now it is the process I turn to make sense of myself, to understand why something has bothered me, to delve deeper into the core beliefs which underlie the surface behaviour and to empathise better with others.  I love the simplicity of the model combined with the depth that it makes possible.  We are all a work in progress, but I am very grateful to have found the process that works for me.

Image by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

The Political is Personal

Second wave feminism told us that the personal is political  – what happens in the home is reflective of what is going on in society as a whole.  It reminds us that the domestic arrangements that we have always taken for granted are in fact a political statement of how current thinking says that things ought to be.

The political is also personal. 

We internalise the messages that we receive from outside to such an extent that we don’t realise how much we recreate the very systems that we, on the surface, challenge with every fibre of our being.

Once in a webinar where the panellists were all people of colour who practise Nonviolent Communication (poc4nvc.org), a woman of African descent said that she remembered a time where she had her hand up in class and when two white people then put their hands up, she put hers down.  Noticing herself doing it was the first time she realised just how much the systemic racism in the culture where she lived had colonised her actions.

I felt really moved and sad when I heard that as I started to imagine the journey that she must have taken from being that young girl in the classroom, into the woman at peace in her own power that I witness now.  In his book Natives , Akala tells of his experience of being a boy racialised as black who kept his hand up, and the abuse he subsequently received from his teachers.  I can understand the motivation to play the role that is expected, to keep your hand down, for your own peace and safety.

Have you ever noticed on quiz shows where if there is a team of both men and women and neither of them know the answer, how often the woman says, “Oh I don’t know, you choose”?  I am aware whenever I park an articulated lorry, I am carrying with me generations of voices that tell me that women have no spatial awareness and that I should not be able to do this task.  There have been days when I wanted to agree with them, when I have had enough of the mental fight and I just want to settle into the ease of conforming to stereotype.

This is where my work lies – in the intersection of the political and the personal.  My passion is to tell the truth about the messages which underlie our behaviour, to make the unconscious conscious, so that we can shine a light onto it and change it for the better.

Central to this is kindness. 

As soon as the word ‘diversity’ is mentioned, those in positions of structural privilege – white people, men, people with degrees – instantly feel on their guard, fearful that they are going to make a faux pas, show their underlying privilege or -ism, or simply that they, that we, are going to lose something, our access to jobs or resources.  Before all that, before we think about what it might look like in practice to shift society, we simply have to listen with kindness to the voices of those who are marginalised, and hold ourselves with kindness as we notice our reaction.  Then we can hear each other from a place of connection.