Scilla Elworthy on Non-violent communication
Greetings everyone, my name is Julie Masters and welcome to another episode of Inside Influence. In which I delve into the minds of some of the world’s most fascinating influencers – or experts in influence - to get to the bottom of what it really takes to own your voice - and then amplify it to drive an industry, a conversation, a movement or a Nation.
Now, at the time of recording and publishing this episode we are still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some lockdowns are easing, some are being extended - but wherever you’re at in your lockdown, we are all at a point where it’s something we’ve been dealing with for months - rather than for days or weeks.
For many, or for most in fact, the stress and the strains of those months are very real and there’s a high chance that conflict is a lot more familiar part of your life than it was pre-pandemic. That conflict might be light – children arguing over toys or homework – more intense – as many of us deal with financial and family crisis points – or critical – if – as is the case for far too many - your home isn’t a safe place – and the main emotional and physical dangers lie more within your four walls than outside.
For some people, dealing with – and trying to resolve – conflict - is their life’s work. And it’s one of those people who is my guest for this episode.
Dr Scilla Elworthy was put on her ‘path’ at the young age of 13 - having watched a life altering news broadcast in 1956 which literally jolted her into action. That small moment changed her life, which in turn, helped change the lives of countless others.
Dr Elworthy is best known for founding the Oxford Research Group; an organisation set up in 1982 to develop communication between nuclear weapons policy-makers and their critics - for which she was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2003 she left her role there as executive director and set up Peace Direct; a charity which supports peace-makers and peace builders in areas of conflict. She is also a member of the World Future Council, has advised Desmond TuTu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up ‘The Elders’, and was Awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003.
Today her full attention is on developing Business Plan for Peace - resulting in her 2017 book The Business Plan for Peace: Building a World Without War .
Her latest booklet - which has literally just been released – is called: ‘The Mighty Heart: How to transform conflict’. It takes the experience of people who have been preventing and resolving conflict for decades; some on the front-line, others within families or schools. And distils their experiences into practical, non-technical advice on how build your own mighty heart.
So what’s a mighty heart? Put simply, it’s having the courage to meet conflict with compassion, curiosity – and unshakeable presence.
How do we do that? Keep listening. In this conversation we dive into:
· How to deal with a bully without becoming a thug yourself, and how to overcome violence in all its forms without resorting to force.
· Why it’s important to realise that whilst it’s okay to be angry at ‘the thing’, it’s not okay to be angry at the person who holds the opposing view on that ‘thing’; get mad at ‘the thing’ together and resolve it.
· Self intervention - how to take a step back when we feel too close to the trigger point - very important this one, and very relevant for these times.
· How to take a stand clearly and calmly – and with full gravity - so you are not dismissed. Quick Tip - it’s important to literally take a ‘stand’.
· And how we build certainty through self enquiry. Especially in those 3am moments. One of my favourite moments in this conversation is listening to how Scilla – literally – deals with her dragons when they arrive at 3am.
For me – speaking to Scilla was both a deep honour and reminder that the most powerful forms of influence are not force, aggression or interruption. Which I know sometimes is a hard truth to hold onto.
In the long run of history – or any relationship - the only lasting genuine peace always comes from a willingness to firstly show up – for ourselves before anyone else. Then to get curious about both sides of the story – even when that feels impossible. And finally, in the decision to fiercely and compassionately hold our ground – even (and especially) in the moments when our knees shake and our voices break.
Writing this introduction actually sent me off in search of a poem I hadn’t read in years, it’s by Rumi and it’s the closest (and shortest) summation of the beginnings of peace that I have ever found: “Out beyond the ideas of right and wrong there is a field – I will meet you there’.
So, find whatever resembles a peaceful place for you right now - and enjoy my conversation with the truly indescribable, Dr Scilla Elworthy...