De-escalation Training

This training was used with XR Cardigan in July 2019. It was put together using resources from Ceri Buckland, Viv Slack and others who developed the BREATHE acronym, and the aims and a couple of suggested exercises came from some Scottish trainers. Emma and Verone and I don't know who else. Shantigarbha provided some guidance. Thank you to all of you.

Extinction Rebellion SW Wales Intro to NVC De-escalation

 Aims today:

  • Giving our opinions in a way that connects the other to us and allows the other to feel valued and their voices to be heard.

By the end of the day, participants will have the skills to:

  • Help by-standers feel heard and connected to you –  whether the by -stander shows up as quiet but resentful, or angry
  • Interact with activists who may be doing something not agreed by XR’s commitments and guidelines.
  • Support upset activists.
  • Engage in difficult conversations with friends and family who don’t understand the movement and losing connection (with them or yourself e.g. feeling shame)
  • Be less attached to outcomes and therefore ‘pushing’ – our outcome is part of the solution but not the solution
  • Giving space to ‘non-dominant’ voices
  • have experienced a quality of connection to self and others that can inspire them to pursue their learning of NVC
  • have reflected on the meaning of nonviolence and its connection with their involvement in XR
  • have made a conscious link between individual habits (thoughts/interpretations, words, actions) and the violence in the world;
  • have connected with an intention to cultivate nonviolence within, so that it aligns with XR’s commitment to nonviolence in general;
  • be able to track reactivity in them and others and its impact on individuals, relationships and group effectiveness;
  • have practical tools to de-escalate situations of intensity, to slow down, create space (between stimulus and response) and cultivate choice;
Time Activity Who purpose/Comments
9.15 Arrive and prepare following: Flip chart of itenery, put on wall Flip chart – aspects of non violence Write up Breathe on flip chart Find Chairs, put in circle, Sofas and table out of the way. Arrange side rooms so more space? A label for contributions for workshop show participants tea in kitchen   S S B B J J J see after lunch session for Breathe snooker room probably stuck as is put tea contribution label in kitchen
10.00 Pick an object that you are drawn to and take back to your seat Object ready for meditation and to cement the learning of today.
10.05 Pairs – write in one sentence a challenge you have come across. Not everyone will be here in time to do this.     B Suggestion: invite them describe it in one sentence. Write them up on flip chart for later. Plus on slips of paper to use for role-plays?
10.15 Start – Welcome, round of names, one feeling word, who has come across NVC before, a gratitude. Practicalities re venue and time. 3 Ppl willing to clear up lunch by end of lunch time3 Ppl willing to  bring ppl back after lunch5 Ppl willing to stay on to clear up Timing – say who will be helping me and how they will do it. Let us know if you find that intrusive. Point out Itinery on flip chart on wall Self care is something we are not often practiced at, other care we are better at. Use today to practice sticking up for your needs. Go for a wee/drink when you need to. Ask if you want us all to break – you won’t be the only one. Find a friendly face (from your affinity group if here) and an object you are drawn to.
10.45 Walking meditation – prepare friendly face/object or view in advance   Grounding: Breathe for 5 secs and notice how your feet meet the ground, focus as though there is nothing else to focus on, just the ground meeting your feet. feel a body part that is comfortable – or at least not uncomfortable. Support: catch eyes of a friendly face, anchor to an object that draws/ inspires you (think of one in advance) slowing: feel tension pouring out of your feet like water from a jug. Be Curious   Guessing own needs: standing around needs cards on floor and given a situation. Situation examples from flip chart. What are your needs? For calming and for support. Eyes open, explain it’s for on the street.     Invitation to Practice 20 – 50 times between now and next action. Suggestions in large group for how we can do that.   Learning: hear from someone after, how is your body now compared to before?
10.55 Continuim – Violence is sometimes necessary vs Non Violence is always most helpful Persuading people vs allowing people their opinions   Name some situations where NVC has been used in serious situations eg between tribes and gangs killing each other, reducing crime in schools. Give a few details on one example   We only make it if we all make it. The question is, what would make us both/all happy.     Exploring What is Nonviolence,  Aspects: non-judgemental, non harming, beyond blaming, listen to other’s perspective, active listening, accompanying the other even if disagree. Include something about what is, and avoiding Power Over.   What do we want people to feel when we want to tell them of our view and the urgency? No shame/ not blame.   Violence comes from lack of choice and non-voilence is about questioning our own judgement.                     J                   B Purpose: beginning to look at our own views, rather than “party line”. Connect to own opinion and see everyone comes from a different place.             Communicating indisputable things like feelings and needs to find common ground         write onto flip chart as an aim for the day: warm, connected…. And they write on a stone to keep?
11.10 How is it possible to encourage people to look at things differently whilst not persuading them to our point of view? This is what NVC brings. Draws on NV of Ghandi, Martin Luther King adds Carl Rogers empathetic listening and accompanying the other person. NVC is beyond should, have to’s, appropriate and other “choice removers”. No Shame/no blame.   NVDA, and NVC Why are we using NVC? The campaign is more likely to be successful if the perspective of the other is heard.   Demo NVC in action with a by-stander         J       J       S Purpose: making link between XR’s commitment to NV and NVC   Tip: create choice for people                   Using a participant or Jan.
11.15 Introduce NVC tree of Life   Show the empathy for self and receiving branch we will focus on – name other branche. On Flip Chart. Purpose: to show that there is a lot more to NVC, and for visual learners
11.20 Break
11.35                                   12.00 Multiheaded Giraffe, listen & acknowledge: Start with mildly irrated by-stander (police, driver, activist). Demo: Jackal says something, Giraffe does self empathy and then reflecting back Exercise: There’s one mildly irritated by-stander Jackal, going round in circle, you can pass, everyone else has a go at listening to create rapport. Pass something round that represents listening (I’ve got a reflective square). Can pass and we’ll come back to you. How would you like the by-stander to feel from this interaction? What did you learn from this? How did the by-stander feel? How connected did you feel to the by-stander? How do you want by-stander to feel?           S                                     Write on flip chart under learning for the day Hear from 3- 4 people, hands up.
12.15 Breathing walking Mediatation again – led
12.17 Listening in Pairs –personal experience. Demo reflecting back in chairs. One chair is A & one is B. A: Talk about how it is to be an activist for 5 mins – something you want support with? Explain 1-3 and choose 1 and not private as we’ll be listening in. If you run out, start on another topic. B: listen 90%, don’t try to fix or advice. “B for BE WITH” them. Briefly reflecting back what is important swap Explain that facilitators will be listening in – so don’t make it too private               B Step through reflecting back! Baby steps if some are not sure. Explain we are going to only listen, for 90% of time, not offer any advice or explanations – I allow myself to “sit with” them, aim to connect to them in that emotion, in their discomfort.   Tips: don’t advise or fix
12.40 Big Circle What was challenging? How was it to be heard without interruption? Any difference being reflected back vs having your deeper longings guessed? Learning   From a different 2-3 people, hands up.
1.00 Lunch: Ask how long we want? Last time 1 hr seemed too long but a break is good, and gives people time to buy lunch. Remind who is in charge of getting people back? Ask people to be back 5 mins earlier than arranged, so we start on time or earlier even! Or explain bums on seats by Xpm, having got tea/been to toilet.
2.00 Acronym – BREATHE – in the context of de-escalating heated situations B – Breathe – grounding – slowing – curious R – Remember we’re all humans E – Empathise before explaining A – Ask first – is the person ready to hear your perspective? THE – BreaTHE Debrief: shake the tension off, Breathing meditation, find support.    Written up on flip chart
2.05 Breathe Walking meditation – Grounding: Breathe for 5 secs and notice how your feet meet the ground, focus as though there is nothing else to focus on, just the ground meeting your feet. feel a body part that is comfortable – or at least not uncomfortable. Support: catch eyes of a friendly face, anchor to an object that draws/ inspires you (think of one in advance) slowing: feel tension pouring out of your feet like water from a jug. Be Curious               Learning – does anyone feel more relaxed after this? Ask for a temperature check.
2.07           Remember we’re all humans – Meet the other where they are now! We’re all interconnected, intrinsically linked, so what happens to you affects me. We want the other to get their needs met too. Say more about needs: values, longings – always translate into positive. What values matter to this person in their world?    Show flip chart of mornings exercise     Explain Needs as values.
2.10 Game: Cushion race. In circle, number selves 1,2,1,2,1,2. All 1s against all 2s! 2 cushions needed or similar. Energy riser
2.15 Big group How might by-stander be feeling? Use a situation from the challenges list and see humanity. . In big group with flip chart, guess Feelings: Bystander/police: Other Activist:   How might they act, what actions may it provoke? What do you think would support them? If late skip this exercise Purpose: to reinforce learning from the morning: How do you want the other to feel? (valued, heard)   Put example on flip chart
2.25 Feedback via movement: In pairs standing, where A is by-stander. A moves forward or backward when they hear B’s response. B listens and aims for reflecting, acknowledgment, guessing what’s important. Forward = connecting. Backward = disconnecting. If they move backwards check you are acknowledging their viewpoint. Then swap. We DEMO first. Big group feedback if time Principle: we separate listening to them as first and separate step, until they have finished.
2.40 Break
2.55                             3.00                             Empathy before explaining. Listen, listen, listen – 90% of time. Keep focused on their views, meet them where they are, not where you want them to be!Reflect back what you hear, try to put their discomfort/distress into words, to prove you are listening. Exclude your perspective, guess feelings eg you sound annoyed/concerned.Guess what matters to them, any underlying values, needs, longings eg “Is consideration something you value“? (not your job to fix or take it on)Keep listening until a “draw bridge” comes down – they may run out of steam, or seem calmer and more at ease, there’s a connection.   Practice in 2s. DEMO reflecting back and listening for needs, values, longings – ask who wants more support?guessing values. Standing, so is quicker and more similar to street. Use mildly upset situation. B guesses needs, then swap. We will circulate. or multiheaded giraffe again with needs? Responding to questions when they aren’t calm and curious eg “How can you be so selfish” or “Don’t you think it’s pointless?” It’s really a complaint: Make a need guess. “Are you asking that cos you want consideration here?” “How long will you be?” could be a question or complaint – check the tone. see handout for more on questions. More on extra sheet, if we’re ahead of time                   Purposes: To be Curious. Helping the other to be valued, heard and so we understand what the issue is for them.       We circulate as they are practicing, to see if they have any issues/questions. Ask me to go over, if other facilitators are not sure. Paricipants put hands up if needing help
3.15                                                         3.20     3.25         3.45 Ask are you ready to hear my perspective – give them a choice about hearing your response. May not need this in brackets [2 approaches depending upon whether they have asked questions already. If they haven’t asked you a direct question:Do you feel I have a good grasp of where you’re coming from? Listen for verbal / non-verbal yes or no.If  Yes: carry on below. If No, go back to R & E above for another round. Would you like to hear a bit from me/ Are you open to hear what it’s like for me? If yes continue. If no, or doubtful, repeat R & E again.Express what’s important to you in this situation via feelings and needs first, before info.If they ask a questions/questions:“Would it help your situation to hear a bit about why we’re doing this?” If they hesitate or show a “no” verbally or non-verbally, return to steps 2 & 3. There is probably more they want heard, or more detail.]   Demo someone’s challenge if necessary with by-stander asking rhetorical question.                   Practice in 2s. Whole thing. Run through, once each. Put hand up if get stuck.   Feedback in whole group    Purpose: we’re building a culture of consent. Principle: having listened to them, we can see if they are ready to listen to us.   “yeses” build trust.   Asking in a way that pushes for a yes, can be counterproductive. I like to ask so it’s easy for them to say no       We circulate as they are practicing, to see if they have any issues/questions. Ask me to go over, if other facilitators are not sure. Paricipants put hands up if needing help   Instructions: Stay in role, discuss at end, Take your time   Give out slips with suggestions. Use ones that don’t have questions   Ring bell after 10 mins, to swap if haven’t already.
4.00 Step 5: breaTHE – What’s left for you – self care. find a buddy to guess your needs/values that weren’t heard fully in your exchange, shake it all out/ move to let adrenalin go. Use self care in hours and days after – someone to listen, or NVC de-escalation events (see London XR page) Any responses to this?    
4.05 some strategies of Rowen’s for Crowd De-escalation. Think about what would help YOU to taking initiate so here are some suggestions: Hands up for silence, chanting, getting drummers to slow beat, asking people to sit down.Try to practice – at least in your mind – 20 times if possible. The more it becomes a habit, the more it will support you. Further resources: my website, links tab, links for XR.   Going around the circle: share one thing you are taking away from today. End                       Links, further practice/learning
4.20 Feedback sheets clearing up    

Extras if time

? Game in a circle with one person in the middle   Debrief: what have we learnt?     Purpose: movement after lunch, literacy around needs, and understand the variety of strategies available to meet each need.  
? Same stimulus leads to different feelings (and needs underneath): 5 feeling words spread across the room and a number of statements are read. Participants are invited to position themselves near or in between feeling words depending on what the statement triggers in them. Some people are invited to say why they position themselves where they are. Needs can be surfaced there too.   Debrief: what stimuli are likely to emerge in XR actions – for others and yourself. What reactions are you likely to experience? What needs can you track underneath those reactions?   Group conflict. Ask for a challenge with a by-stander. Run through interaction as they are.   Stop it. Suggest we see both sides’ humanity underneath demands and complaints. Explain needs: Longings, values, common to everyone. What values matter to this person in their world?   Scribe some phrases, to translate   scribe F&N guesses from participants for each phrase recorded   Re-run in group   Alternative Group exercise; rows facing each other, step forward and go for it all in one big noise for a couple of mins! (The NVDA training does this method). Notice responses, Then we come back to circle and do below     Responding to By-stander’s complaining questions. Demo: Responding to questions. B asks a question, ask participants if it sounds like a complaint or a curiosity. When it’s a complaint, demo how to respond to illicit more info.   Tips: Use Breathing step if you get stressed/take on their problem. You can do this while they are talking.Match emotional intensity – so they feel met/accepted energetically for where they are. Don’t say “I hear you”, say what you hear: put their distress into words and check you have understood what matters to them.      Purpose: realise the diversity of response to the same stimulus, and why. More practice of needs.                     In big circle, split into 2 halves A and B. Let group run through conflict.             add 2 F& N for each     Point to flip chart for suggestions             Re-run or go to multiheaded giraffe or we could just translate by-stander’s phrases to save time                     We circulate as they are practicing, to see if they have any issues/questions. Ask me to go over, if other facilitators are not sure. Paricipants put hands up if needing help
We will ring a bell after 5  mins (could be 3 mins). A listens for 5 mins, brief reflecting back what is important in pauses longer than 5 sec. A listens for values and longings for 5 mins. Offers them as guesses. Eg guess what values matter to this person. Swap chairs Wait for a 5 second pause, then reflect back. They may carry on, saving you having to speak.
Suggestions of scenarios   Lorry Driver Widow Missing flight to germany – who’s going to pay, who’s going to take responsibility Mother getting home for children Dentist appointment/ consultant appointment “All our engines are running, you’re creating more pollution” “who are you to decide this action” Interview, cupboards bare, single parent, need job Taxi Driver   Activist examples   Vegan with megaphone Youth being confrontational to council worker and grabbing mic. Crowd could go out of control

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