Whether you have studied Non-Violent Communication (NVC), done a course with Gordon Training such as ‘Parent Effectiveness Training’, worked with Mazlish and Faber on ‘How to Talk’, studied the Clean Language system pioneered by David Grove, done a counseling course that trained you in Active Listening, participated in Intergroup Dialogue sessions, or attended any number of self-development courses, the skills you learned all had a common foundation.
I call that ‘Horizontal Communication’.
When I first began supporting Self-Directed Education facilitators in gaining their confidence, I encouraged them all to take these kinds of courses. I quickly heard a repeated complaint: people had experienced that these communication forms can be used abusively.
Of course, any tool is only as good as the hand that wields it, and any tool can be used as a weapon.
For this reason HC focuses on the underlying dynamics and motives of the human using the tools, rather than on the tools themselves. HC aims to bring the necessary self-awareness and emotional self-management that supports us in using these tools as they were intended to be used. It also provides us with articulations that can help us to discuss the HC process with other people when we need to bring in meta-level awareness of why things might be going wrong.
Last but not least, HC provides a simplified tool that can be used as is by those who don’t wish to explore one or more of the other forms on offer.