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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Monday, August 20, 2001

Nonviolent communication focus of retreat in Kane'ohe

By Mary Kaye Ritz
Advertiser Staff Writer

As Christa Morph's mentor says, if you connect over the problem, the solution will find you.

Morph, the leader of a Nonviolent Communication Workshop retreat being held Oct. 6-7 at the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts retreat in Kane'ohe, can talk at length about her calling.

The Swiss woman, who worked as a counselor for more than 18 years in Germany, knows of what she speaks: She used her training to help schoolchildren in the former Yugoslavia during the conflict in 1995, at the invitation of Amica, a German organization whose name means "friend" in Italian.

"The main focus (of nonviolent communication) goes from watching what is happening out there to what is happening within me or the other person," she said from her home in Maui. "Non-violent communication is interested in solution finding, but only after two groups have connected in a way of understanding each other."

Understanding, she points out, does not mean agreeing.

"It just means to see from the point of view of the other person, or other group, or to have an understanding what's going on within me, withing the group. That is really the shift."

People are a lot less likely to attack one another either mentally or physically, or to try to take advantage of one another, if they understand each other's perspective, Morph says.

"The focus is not so much on judging, analyzing and diagnosing or finding fault, than in seeing what would be (one another's needs or wants)," she said. "... There's an unmet need that we're not aware of it. Or we've discarded it, because it's not appropriate right now."

The two-day workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 6 at the Sisters of Sacred Hearts retreat. Reservations are limited to 25 people, and the cost is $150 (if registered by Sept. 15), $175 after that. Meals not included. For information, call Suzanne Honda at 235-0461.