Learning to communicate to reduce stress, create connection and resolve conflict.

One of the hardest and most challenging elements of the polarization that the country and world is experiencing is the tendency to treat those who disagree with us as an “other”, as someone so different from us as to not be worthy of respect, let alone empathy. Ike Lasater and John Kinyon know from experience that conflict is inherent in all relationships, and that the language we use and how we use it provides a powerful means to not only resolve these conflicts, but to go even further to create true connection.

In their words: “There is creative, transformative power in how we communicate. When you change the way you listen and speak in difficulty and conflict, you change your life. And when you change your life, the world changes.” In this practical book Ike and John (that’s what their students call them) show how to do so, set—by-step.

Full disclosure: Ike and John are clients and friends to me. I’ve helped them articulate their communications and messaging strategy, and I’ve taken their year-long Choosing Peace Immersion Training Program. http://www.mediateyourlife.com/immersion-program/ They run their programs under the Mediate Your Life brand. Their work is based on three premises:

1. Conflict is inherent in all relationships, including the one you have with yourself,
2. We are all vulnerable to the brain’s “Fight-flight-freeze” survival response, a now mostly unhelpful pattern of reaction in our modern world.
3. Through our choice of language and awareness, we can overcome the fight or flight pattern and turn our daily conflicts into opportunities for connection.

They use this book to outline clear techniques to do so.

Their work is rooted in the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a linguistic model created by clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. That practice provides a structural means of focusing our attention on what is, stripped of our prior assumptions and prejudices.

I find the book very assuring in these troubling times. Yes, we can learn to overcome our “us vs them” biases, and here’s how.

From the book:

“In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated, or de-escalated, and a person humanized or de-humanized.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


At every moment of our lives, we must choose what to do next.

Example A: When you’re running late and someone cuts you off in traffic.

Example B: When someone else’s success causes you to doubt yourself.

Example C: When a family member’s words remind you of a past hurt.

Each of these examples represents a situation or a sudden rush of feeling, that can knock you off balance.

What happen’s next?


Practice Pause
What need or needs of yours are being met at this moment?
What need is not being met?


“To observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” – J. Krishnamurti


Those who teach Nonviolent Communications refer to the Four Components of Communication as “OFNER”. To use OFNER well, it’s crucial that you be able to separate

Observations from Judgements,
Feelings form Faux Feelings,
Needs from Strategies, and
Requests from Demands.


Observation is stating what you have observed as the stimulus of your current experience.

Note the giant difference between observations and judgements. “I dropped the dish and it broke” is an observation. “I am an idiot who can’t do anything right” is a judgement. When you make a distinction between observation and judgment, it creates a space for you to interpret the world differently.


If you can formulate present-tense, positive requests that are expressed in action language, you’re going to like the results, even and especially when the request is directed at yourself. Personal integrity begins with keeping your agreements with yourself, but this is difficult when you make requests of yourself that are vague, unrealistic, or steeped in self-criticism.


Choosing Peace
New ways to communicate to reduce stress. create connection and resolve conflict
Ike Lasater & John Kinyon
Mediate Your Life, LLC
2014, 198 pages

Available from Amazon.

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