After going to a workshop with Marshall Rosenberg, I tried an experiment with using his Nonviolent Communication. My son was 19. At the time, we had one small TV in the house. It was set up on a rolling cart and my son or daughter would roll it into their rooms or we’d roll it into the living room. I had rented a movie. In those days you brought home a video cassette from the rental store. The TV was in my son’s room. So I knocked on the door. I told my son I’d like to use the TV since I rented a movie.
He told me that he rented a movie too. Ugh, what do I do now? I was determined not to pull rank and commandeer the TV set. I thought about using the argument that he watches TV all week and Mom and I don’t. But I didn’t. Then I had a moment of inspiration. I thought I found the win-win. I suggested that Mom and I watch our movie now and he could watch his later, since he is used to staying up later. Well, he told me that he was planning to watch his movie now, because he was planning to go out later. Darn! I was again tempted to pull rank. The fairness arguments came up for me. How he watches the TV much more than I do and I deserve to watch it. But I didn’t do that. I just said OK and walked out of the room.
Well, a few minutes later, he comes rolling the TV out of the room. ‘Here you go, Dad,’ he said. I don’t know how he arrived at that moment. But I felt his generosity. I never would have experienced it if I relied on my authority to use the TV set. It felt really good.