In 1998, I met the founder of the international work of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Marshall Rosenberg, and went on to study closely with him as my mentor. In 2002, following a harrowing adventure of training and mediating together with Afghan tribal elders in a refugee camp on the Pakistan border, my colleague Ike Lasater and I began co-developing a body of work and training program based in NVC called Mediate Your Life. My focus with this work has been to help people respond to human conflict in all its forms, inner and outer, with communication skills and mediation conversation "maps" that are infused with empathy, compassion, and mindfulness.
More recently I've begun to see the skills and practices of empathic communication in relation to the emerging health and wellness movement and alternative, functional medicine. This rapidly growing movement is not only about science-based approaches to diet and exercise, but also includes things like yoga, mindfulness/meditation, and spirituality, as well as compassion, emotional and social intelligence, and positive psychology. These practices are being shown to contribute to more optimal and effective human functioning and well being.
My vision is that practices of empathic speaking and listening (with ourselves and others) are recognized to be an integral component of human health and well being. This ability allows us to better respond to the daily stresses, overwhelm, irritations, frictions, upsets, disappointments, disconnections, and arguments that arise with friends, family, and at work, or the bigger, more significant conflicts and breakdowns of relationship that periodically happen. The stress of these interactions can build up over time and affect our health and happiness. With practices of empathic communication, and a supportive empathic community around us, we can transform any of these kinds of interactions into compassionate connection and collaboration. By doing this we strengthen and heal our relationships (and ourselves!) rather than strain or damage them, and we develop resilience and resourcefulness.
A powerful insight I believe that comes out of this approach to health is to understand how our bodies have evolved and adapted over millions of years, and apply this ancestral understanding to addressing modern ways of living that are making us unhealthy on many levels — physical, psychological, social-political, environmental. Speaking and listening in empathic ways and in empathic community is most likely something our early ancestors did naturally before more sophisticated forms of language and communication developed, which have had a double-edged effect. Ultimately, this work is about creating a healthy, peaceful, and sustainable world, and responding together to the challenges we face.
To learn more about my work, click on these links:
- Empathic Culture in Organizations
- Conflict Coaching and Mediation
- Mediate Your Life Training Program, Public Workshops
- See Navigation Menu in upper right corner of this page for more info
For more in-depth resources on the Mediate Your Life (MYL) approach, see these books I have co-authored:
See links below to info and research on empathy, compassion, mindfulness, emotional and social intelligence, and positive psychology. Growing empirical evidence shows that these practices lead to increased mental, emotional, and physical well being and functioning, better relationships, and organizational benefits such as enhanced creativity, performance, productivity, and teamwork.
The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford School of Medicine, Self-Compassion, Positive Psychology Center, Greater Good Science Center, The Center for HealthyMinds, The Center for Mindfulness, Emotional and Social Intelligence — Daniel Goleman, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, Brene Brown.
Within the challenges and conflicts in our lives, there is an energy that can propel us to the next level of well being, growth, and new possibilities. With the tools of empathic communication we can transform the power of conflict to create the life, relationships, and work we want, and contribute to the world we envision, one conversation at a time.
I envision a world in which we human beings are working together to respond to the challenges we face, and creating a peaceful, healthy, and sustainable world.
— john kinyon