NVC’s becoming fashionable

How did an NVC trainer end up on a fashion shoot?

When I got the invitation to be an ‘ambassador’ and model for The R Collective I had an immediate yes to the project. As a social-impact business they are keen on raising awareness and enabling people to make fashion choices that care for people and planet, and hence their interest in NVC, mindfulness and social justice.

NVC aims to create social change in the form of a world that works for everyone, where the needs of everyone matter. Radical, if you pause to think about it. In these times of climate crisis, it’s becoming clearer that ‘everyone’ includes non-human forms of life. 

So I felt inspired to support The R Collective who are all about sustainability, clothes with conscience and slow fashion. 

NVC mindsets and skills offer a paradigm shift

CEO Christina Dean, was keen to find out more about NVC and our conversation reminded me how grateful I am for NVC’s mindsets and skills which offer a paradigm shift in the way we relate to each other and the world.

For example, one NVC mindset is that in every situation we can choose to seek power-with others rather than power-over, to find win-win solutions rather than win-lose. This may seem pie-in-the-sky, given how deeply conditioned and embedded we are in systems that depend on the exploitation and oppression of other humans and the natural world. And yet the need for monumental change in the way we operate is becoming alarmingly obvious in these times of climate and social crisis. I think this mind-set offers us a vision to aim for.

Empathic Listening

One of the NVC skills that can help us live this mindset is the practice of empathic listening, choosing to listen for the human needs motivating another, no matter how much we might deplore their words or behaviour. Connecting on the human level, even if we fiercely yet compassionately reject the behaviour.

This is serious stuff, and yet another NVC practice is self-empathy, which helps us to clearly and directly feel our motivating life-force and to consciously meet our needs, without harming others. This is a practice that brings tremendous joy.

Meeting my need for fun!

The invitation to do an interview and fashion shoot sounded like a great way to meet my need for fun!

The shoot took place in what was William Morris’s house by the Thames, a stunning location, and this was pretty much the first time I’d been anywhere or seen anyone in the flesh, beyond my bubble, for 5 months of lockdown. So it felt like a bit of an adventure – another need met!

I totally relaxed into my first ever professional make-up experience, having rose water splashed on my face and eyelashes curled. My hair was of course a mess, not having been to an hairdresser’s in months, but it’s amazing what a pro hairstylist can do with moose and hairspray. I walked into a room full of clothes and the jump-suit jumped straight out at me – it looked so playful.

A friendly face and calming influence makes all the difference!

I expect it was photographer Olivier Yoan‘s friendly face and calming influence, but it turns out that I love being in front of a camera. All that attention, being really seen…At one point there were three young (almost half my age) photographers looking my way saying, “Yeah great, wonderful.” Can you spot all the needs met here?!

Want to learn more about NVC?

I facilitate trainings and groups in Nonviolent Communication in London, which include teaching empathy, emotional intelligence and mindfulness as tools for effective dialogue and social justice.

If you’d like to see the interview and photos and find out more about the R Collective here

Cath Burke CNVC Certified Trainer

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