Christianity meets nonviolent communication in this earnest, emotional guide.
Prieto calls on his experience as both a Christian and a practitioner of nonviolent communication (NVC) to draw lessons from the Gospels on improving communication and interpersonal relationships. He reads biblical events—specifically the Fall and the Sermon on the Mount—as speaking to common emotional situations and mindsets; for example, the Fall is not so much about original sin as it is about our choice to judge others and ourselves. Prieto makes Jesus’ words personal, relating them to people’s feelings, needs and the strategies they use to get those needs met. He also provides an NVC-inspired take on Ignatius’ Examen of Conscience, a popular Jesuit practice of examining one’s day for instances of sin and grace, which, in Prieto’s hands, becomes an in-depth exploration of a specific, emotionally charged instance and its related feelings and communication breakdowns. The author provides discussion questions at the end of each chapter to organize its emotional and intellectual content, with a keen eye toward the range of reader responses to the text. The nuts and bolts of NVC come late into the book, and the occasionally hard-to-follow details are made more confusing by a proliferation of complicated, unclear diagrams. Fortunately, Prieto provides a few pages of NVC reference material at the end, and he cites plentiful sources where those interested in NVC can learn more. Some inappropriate citations, including Wikipedia, and some incorrect bibliographic information show the book for what it is: not the work of a slick professional, but rather the inspired efforts of a Christian helped by NVC who wants to share his experience with the world and help people better their lives. Prieto draws on plentiful examples from his own experience, including the death of his father, his divorce from his wife and his relationship with his son. These examples go a long way toward creating a bond between reader and author, which counteracts the sometimes overblown emotional quality of the writing.
More meditation than guidebook, Prieto’s work is compelling, motivating and useful, if occasionally hard to follow.