Normative Requests and Effective Communication

The kinds of discussions we’ll soon be having will put a premium on effective communication

I’ve written in the past about the process of sharing and listening as I see it. As we come together in meet-ups, discussion groups, and lightworker projects, we’ll be encountering more and more situations in which we’ll need to communicate effectively with each other.

Avoiding disagreements in person or flame wars in discussion groups will become ever more important, especially as events unfold, we become flat-out busy and Ascension approaches.

I’ve already discussed the desirability of using neutral language and stating the status of our knowledge.  (1) These are very important techniques to cut down on the number of disagreements we have.

Here I’d like to discuss the desirability of avoiding “normative” requests wherever possible (and I acknowledge that they are also desirable in certain contexts, as will be discussed below).

A normative request is a request made of someone that says what they “should” do. It may be phrased as a response to truth, a virtue, higher dimensionality, God, our angels, etc. No matter how it’s phrased or on what basis it’s made, it requests that another behave or speak a certain way and not another way.

Just as people often bridle or rebel when we use loaded or charged words or when we say something we’re guessing about as if we absolutely know the truth of it, so people may also bridle when we “tell them what to do.” Very few people enjoy being told how to think or speak. And, as we move toward a period of individual sovereignty, fewer and fewer people will want to be told what they “should” or “shouldn’t” do or say.

Many people are so used to speaking in terms of shoulds (or injunctions) that they don’t even notice they’re doing it. In some cultures it’s an established way of communicating and would be all but invisible to speakers.  But we quickly find, when we join together in groups, and more so when our groups are cross-cultural as they are more and more with Internet connectivity, that telling another what they must or should do elicits hostility, resentment, and resistance.

I mentioned some time ago the system of communication that involves judgment, blame and sidebarring. Normative discussions are a part of that way of communicating. In my view, that style of communication has never worked in our society and is responsible for the undoing or breakdown of most good lightworker projects. It will never work in the future and, if I understand the matter correctly, will not accompany us into the new world.

It also kills off the process I call “sharing” and that is a shame because sharing is juicy, alive and nourishing. Normative requests and the discussions they lead to are so often dry, dead, and draining.

There are two responses which are consistent with providing fertile ground for sharing. One is to feed back to the speaker our understanding of what was said.  “I hear that you’re concerned with X.” “You sound irritated.” “I understand that you look upon such-and-such a situation in such-and-such a way.”   Feeding back gives the speaker the sense of being heard, received and understood.

And the other response is to share ourselves in response to the first person’s share. By “sharing ourselves” I mean to share how we ourselves see a matter or to share about ourselves – but, in both cases, without resorting to blaming or judgmental comments on another.

To be mature and responsible, as I see it, is to choose to remain with ourselves when we look at matters such as who is responsible for an outcome. It’s to choose to see ourselves as source of the outcome, not because we absolutely are but because looking at our input is the best possible contribution we can make to the success of the outcome. It’s to see our input as crucial to the outcome for the value that contributes to the overall effort.

Now having said all that, let me now say that normative discussions may also serve a purpose under certain circumstances. To use norms in some cases may be useful to, as Ramakrishna might say, use a thorn to remove a thorn – after which we throw both thorns away.  For instance, we sometimes have to use normative behavior to eliminate unnecessary or excessive normative behavior.

For instance, in encounter groups, we used to suggest to a person who was blaming another to “stay with yourself.” Or in a discussion group, a moderator may need to intervene with a member to ask them not to make normative demands on other members lest they dry up sharing. Both these interventions are themselves normative.

Spiritual teachers justify them by saying that it’s necessary to build a fence around a seedling so that the cattle will not trample it. We may have to intervene normatively to stop normative discussions. And we also may need to enforce some norms to protect freedom of speech generally.  Interestingly when we as moderators do that, the discussion-group member concerned often responds that we are violating his or her freedom of speech so let me look at that allegation for a moment.

I was obliged to reflect on matters like these as an adjudicator of human-rights or refugee claims. I feel comfortable saying that the protection of the freedom of speech of one person often, if not always, involves a restriction on the freedom of speech of another.

There is no freedom that I’m aware of that is not purchased without a restriction on some word or deed. If there were, there would be no need to protect that  freedom; it would just be the way things are and therefore invisible. We wouldn’t need charters of human rights, conventions, declarations, laws, etc.

To allow person A to speak freely may mean prohibiting the freedom of speech of person B who advocates, say, death to people of one religion, sending people of one ethnic group “back to where they belong,” burning someone’s house down, and similar threats.  Freedom of speech must be protected and protection involves restricting the freedom of speech of those who would harm others or take away from them freedom of speech, assembly, religion, etc.

So, yes, we as a society actually do put restrictions on freedom of speech to protect freedom of speech.  It isn’t somehow contradictory to be somewhat normative to eliminate from discussion normative demands or to protect freedom. It’s probably unavoidable. At least that’s the way I see it and I could be wrong.

It’s my greatest hope that we as lightworkers can leave behind the way of speaking that draws on excessive norms, judging, blaming and sidebarring and take up the way of speaking that draws on sharing, listening, and feeding back. I hope my request is seen to be reasonable and that you join me in wanting to transition from the one way of communicating to the other.


(1) Further discussion of a lot of these points can be found in the articles listed here: “Communication: Sharing and Listening,” at  There are discussion of the use of some of these techniques such as the status of knowledge and use of neutral language to be found in the articles listed under “Starseeds and Other Lightworkers” at

See also Archangel Michael on “Perro: An Ancient Intergalactic Language of Diplomacy,” at

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