Success and Failure..

Failure is the stepping stone to success..
What does it mean? What does success really mean? Success is opposite to failure… We use these words not just for situations, even for people..
He is successful, he is a failure..
I even heard someone say, ‘He is a failed entrepreneur’
What does it mean? If an experience results in an outcome not seen by others as successful (according to the criteria set by some) the person has failed as an entrepreneur? Isnt it just an outcome one is happy or not too happy about?
These questions with regard to these words keep coming up for me when I talk to people.
In one of my sessions a teenager said, ‘if I don’t get into IIT I am a failure. ”
And I asked her, so, if you get into IIT and fail your exams then are you a success or a failure?
Of course, that question was answered with a blank look and after sometime came the answer’ failure’..
That would mean in one’s life, one is constantly thinking in terms of failure and success depending on an outcome which in reality is just an experience.
It is hard for me to imagine living such a life.
What defines success or failure? Who defines it (others)??
If I don’t get into a university I want, am I a failure or if the person I love does not love me back, am I a failure?
On one hand we celebrate only achievements or success as we call them and on the other we tell people to be open about the failures and celebrate that too .  These are conflicting messages that children and adults are getting and very confusing too.
These words are only damaging adults and children by labeling them which in turn is stopping them to look at themselves as evolving individuals.
It’s time to focus on the process and the outcome as an expected or unexpected outcome. Its time to look at experiences as they are, instead of making it about the outcome which others determine it as success or failure.
It is  time to re-look  at the language we are using to understand our world?

Written by Subha Parthasarathy ( personal perspective)

Chetana (Jan -Feb 2020)

An enriching experience with another set of wonderful people willing to explore their journey with us. Thankful to them for the opportunity given to us.
What some participants had to say about the program :
‘This workshop has really really helped me to open up to these possible perspectives, tools and not importantly taught me to be just present..’
‘My key takeaway has been to continue working with NVC as a tool and focus on self-empathy and connection with self. Also, I was excited to learn about Multiple Intelligence as a learning framework and am keen to explore that a little more. The points about the difference between “doing” and “being” was a eureka moment for me. It really helped me to understand my “mid-life crisis” and the frustrations I have had with my career. This workshop has helped me to have a better view of how I have been raised as a child, what I could focus on, and what are my options right now. It also helped me understand how all that could influence the way I treat myself and others. Of course, awareness, acceptance and action is not a linear process and it is going to take a few turns of the circle to make peace with it. But I am glad to have started on the journey, thanks to you. ‘
‘ it’s a wonderful experience and want to be part of more such workshops this has changed my perception personally to an extent IAM able to handle situations in more easy way’

How one can make requests ..

There’s a quote from Mario Puzo’s book famously known as the movie, “The Godfather”.  Let  me paraphrase what Don Corleone says about doing favours for other people; it is like making a deposit in a bank account. There will come a day when you will need to make a withdrawal so keep doing favours for other people.

                                 This is essentially what I struggle with making requests – I have a few strong beliefs around requests which makes it really hard for me to make a request in the NVC sense. Some of my beliefs are:

1.Make a request only when you know it will be done.

2.When a request is made politely and with all humility it should be accepted by the other person or even me.

Making a Request can be a real struggle

Do not make requests. Be self sufficient. Always be the giver and never the receiver. Be independent and get your own needs met by yourself, if you can’t meet them, then let them go.

In hindsight, after learning NVC, these seem a set of crazy beliefs which are designed to bring nothing but pain, frustration and sadness. There’s so much denial of needs and feelings in my statements. I am saying no to the fact that we are all interdependent and need each other to meet our needs.

So clarifying the context in which the request needs to be made was important for me before I even got down to how a request needs to be made. A request is made after first understanding what your needs and feelings are. A request can come across as a demand if it is unaccompanied by the feelings and the needs. For example, consider the following statement.

You always put your shoes in the living room. You have no consideration that other people are also living in the house. Am I your servant? Do you expect me to clean up after you every time?”

The above statement comes across as a very violent statement because it lacks the basic elements of Non Violent Communication namely: Observation, Feelings, Needs and Requests. This statement doesn’t help you to get closer to what you want, and in the end you still feel wretched after uttering it. It neither helps the talker nor the receiver and it doesn’t get both the parties closer to meeting their needs. So let’s see how can we phrase this into a NVC type of request that helps us to meet our needs.

I see your shoes in the living room. I am feeling annoyed and have a need for some support. Would you be willing to keep the shoes in the stand or in your room?”

So is there a probability that your request will be met when you phrase it this way? We don’t know! The intention of making a request is to enable the other person to willingly contribute towards enriching our life – not out of force or coercion but out of complete willingness of the heart.

The focus in making the request is not about fulfilling the request – because request is just one strategy to meet our need. The prize at the end of this journey is meeting our needs and not necessarily fulfilling a particular request. If the request isn’t fulfilled then you can think about changing your strategy to have the need met or checking out what need the other person might be meeting when our request is not met.. Hanging onto a particular strategy to meet the need is what causes a lot of pain and frustration.

There are ways in which even if you incorporate the NVC elements, the request can come across like a demand.

You always put your shoes in the living room. It happens all the time!  It makes me feel frustrated to see that because my need for order in the house isn’t being met. Would you be willing to take the shoes and put them on the stand?”

                                                      Hearing a demand can be frustrating!

In the above statement, the observation element is not very clear. There’s a sweeping statement “ You always put our shoes in the living room. It happens all the time!” This is not an evaluation but a judgement. This statement is not very helpful in getting the co-operation you need from the other person because a statement of judgement puts them on the backfoot and anything you ask following that statement will look like a demand. When an observation is mixed with a judgement and evaluation the other person hears blame and criticism.

“Your shoes are in the living room today. Would you be willing to take the shoes and put them on the stand?”

The above statement is missing needs and feelings. It doesn’t help to show why this particular request is important to me. It doesn’t help the other person to understand what needs of mine are being met and what are my feelings around this situation. It is incomplete and thus comes across as an order or a demand that’s being made.

In a similar fashion, the statement “Would you be willing to take the shoes and put them on the stand?” by itself comes across as a demand because it lacks the observation, needs and feelings elements and is incomplete.

Requests made the NVC way can come across as being verbose or long winded. But the reality is it is better communication because you are expressing what’s going on within you at the moment and how you can make a request to another person so that they can enrich your life. Making requests the NVC way can often come across as clumsy when you start doing it and it takes a while to get used to it.

To begin with you can start by making requests of yourself the NVC way. Practice in safe circumstances and you’ll find that you are getting the hang of this in no time.

There are 5 kinds of requests you can make in NVC, which are as follows.

  1. Request for a doable action
  2. Request for empathy
  3. Request for connection
  4. Request for clarity
  5. Request for reflection

Request for a doable action: We are used to this particular type of request in the normal course of our lives – a request for a doable action. Ok, there are at times we do want to make an unreasonable request or an impossible request from someone! That is why this is termed as request for a doable action. Of course, there are instances where something you consider doable and the other person might not consider it as doable at all, in which case it is highly likely that the other person will refuse, so be prepared for that!

“Your shoes are in the living room today. It frustrates me that my need for order in the house is not met. Would you be willing to take the shoes and put them on the stand?”

This is a request  doable and perhaps even a reasonable request to make of the other person. Phrasing it this way does increase the likelihood that the action will be performed but of course there’s no guarantee for it. Then you might ask me, “Why go to the trouble of rephrasing the request in this way when it doesn’t guarantee the likelihood of the request being met?”

The answer to this is that, there are multiple strategies to meet one’s need. The idea is to not become attached to a particular strategy for meeting a need. A request is a strategy for meeting a particular need, while keeping in mind the other person’s need as well. It is done on an equal footing which helps to increase the connection with the other person. Communicating in this way helps to connect to what is alive in that moment to the other person and helps to get into a space where strategies can be worked out to meet each other’s needs.

So what happens when there are times when the strategy or strategies do not help you to meet a need? What do you do in that case? In those instances it would be helpful to connect to the unmet needs and to connect to the feelings behind it – to unconditionally and fully accept those feelings behind the unmet needs. This unconditional acceptance will help in processing what has happened (or not happened) and will help you to either find alternate strategies or to be in the moment with yourself in which case giving yourself some self empathy is something you can choose to do.

Request for empathy: Sympathy is sometimes mistaken for empathy. So what’s the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Person 1: “This tax filing is such a nightmare, the authorities would do very well to simplify the process and give us more time to do it”

Person 2: “I agree with you, this year the filing has been such a nightmare, and I could do with an additional one week to get my stuff sorted”

                  Requesting for empathy takes practice!

The above is sympathy, where you are connecting with your experience of what the other person is going through. The below is an example of empathy.

Person 1: “This tax filing is such a nightmare, the authorities could do very well to simplify the process and give us more time to do it”

Person 2: “Sounds like you are overwhelmed and you’d like more efficiency with the process”

Empathy is about connecting with what’s alive in the other person at the moment. The attention is on the other and not on oneself.

Of course, there are times when it is helpful for the other person to hear your own experience to be able to feel better, but doing it with the attention on the other – with empathy is far more powerful than sympathy.

One of the requests you could make is a request for empathy. You could make this request at any given point of time when you have strong feelings and would like some empathy to process it. I need empathy during times when I am dealing with strong uncomfortable feelings, when I have unmet needs or I am struggling to cope with a difficult situation. Empathy helps me because when the other person is focusing on what’s alive in me at the moment, it helps me to connect and accept myself better. This helps me in processing my experience and work towards accepting myself.

Request for connection: There are times when I have a need for connection, companionship with another person and those are the times I find it useful to make a request for connection. I struggle with making an explicit connection for request and I am working my way through it. There are people I reach out to when I need a good conversation to feel connected, and if I were to make an explicit request for connection it would be as follows.

Me: “Hey, I am feeling a bit anxious and am in need for some connection. Would you mind spending some time in conversation with me?”

So what is the point of making an explicit request like this, when you could very well get the conversation by just calling the other person and initiating a conversation. The purpose of communication in the NVC style is to enrich each other’s lives. When we make a request like this of the other person, it gives the other person and ourselves clarity on what needs of ours are being met. The other person is free to get in touch with their needs and can choose to contribute to enriching our lives.

Request for clarity: Oftentimes communication becomes complicated because either we or the other person misunderstands what has been said. We do not clarify as often as we need to in order to communicate effectively. One of the requests we could make is of clarity. This means setting our judgements and assumptions aside, and asking to clarify a statement or an assumption made by the other person.

“I’m confused by what you said just now about going the other way. I need some clarity, so would you mind explaining to me what that means?”

I’m used to making a lot of requests for clarity in a professional setting in my job as a Change Consultant. Assuming things would just lead to disaster later on, so I put on my beginner’s hat and ask for clarification on even the smallest thing. Initially when I started doing this, I was afraid that people would find it tiresome to answer my questions. But as I got more used to asking basic questions and clarifying what I understood, instead of making assumptions I found that people were willing to be open to answering questions to help me get the clarity I needed. For instance, I would say, “I lack the subject matter expertise in this area and would like some clarity, so would you mind explaining why we do this in this way?”

Request for Reflection: This request for reflection is quite useful when we’ve communicated something to the other person and would like to ensure that the other person has understood in the way we intended them to. This is quite useful in emotionally loaded situations as well where it is very natural to assume things and requests can be twisted into demands. We could use this request to understand if the other person has heard our request as a request or a demand.

“Would you be willing to share what you think about what I’ve just said?”

“Would you be ok to tell me how you would like to do this differently?”

I have found this to be useful when I am delegating some work to another person and I want to make sure they have understood my instructions clearly. This gives an opportunity for us to clarify whatever bits aren’t clear and to clear any misunderstandings that could have occurred.

How to hear requests

Life would be all perfect if only the other person knows NVC and is willing to use it in their communication. There would be clarity all around and conflicts would almost disappear! But such is not the life we’re given, so we will definitely encounter situations where instead of requests the other person makes demands.

“You always put your shoes in the living room. It happens all the time!  It makes me feel frustrated to see that because my need for order in the house isn’t being met. Would you be willing to take the shoes and put them on the stand?”

“You never listen to me! You are always watching TV whenever I come to talk to you or you drop asleep midway into the conversation”

“How many times do I have to tell you to take the garbage out?”

These are some of the statements that are demands which might be communicated to us. In those instances it would be a good idea to wear giraffe ears (or the NVC hat) to translate these into NVC speak. Understand the need, feeling, observation and the request behind each of those statements.

                 Focusing on needs instead of strategies

You always put your shoes in the living room. You have no consideration that other people are also living in the house. Am I your servant? Do you expect me to clean up after you every time?”

Observation: The shoes are in the living room

Need: Order (Possibly)

Feelings: Frustration (possibly)

Request: Would you be willing to put it on the stand or under your bed?


You never listen to me! You are always watching TV whenever I come to talk to you or you drop asleep midway into the conversation”

Observation: I am speaking to you and you are watching TV

Need: Connection (possibly)

Feelings: Hurt (possibly)

Request: Would you be willing to look at me when i am talking?

“How many times do I have to tell you to take the garbage out?”

Observation: The garbage has been inside for 3 days.

Need: Order, Efficiency, Support (possibly)

Feelings: Irritated

Request: Would you help me out with taking out the garbage?

One important thing to remember is that a request can be heard as a demand by the other and it is helpful to make a request to understand how it is received by the other.

Dumbledore in the fourth book “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” says “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”  The language of NVC is about keeping our hearts open and if we are able to use language and a certain mindset to keep it open, it is worth giving it a try.

Written by Shirisha on her understanding of requests as part of the NVC process


Parenting is a journey and it is helpful to understand ourselves to be more connected and effective as a parent. Another set of Chetainites starting their journey with us. Gratitude to all the participants for having taken out time and attending the program

Session @ Chiguru Montessori

Got an opportunity to work with parents of Chiguru Montessori. It was an open session with activities and discussions. Parenting is a skill and can be a joyful journey if we are willing to work with ourselves.

Session @ St.Joseph

Session @St Joseph Boys School. It was interesting to note how some students were willing to try something new and how some were worried about failing. Children stop themselves out of fear of failure instead of working from the thought that it is just an outcome not their failure.

NVC workshop

What alienates us from each other, is it the language or is it the space we come from.
Acceptance or judgement. We explored this and more in our NVC workshop. Understanding our needs, feelings does not only contribute to our growth it also contributes to others as we become conscious of how we work with others. Thank you to all participants for taking time and putting in effort to come for this program. 🙏

Ganesha workshop

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi!
Thank you Vinothini for facilitating the Ganesha making workshop @magichive. All participants patiently worked with their creation and each one was mesmerizing.
Thank you! 🙏