Process or results, what do you focus on?
Most of us focus on results. We live in a culture that really emphasizes results. Focusing on results means you are focused on the resolution of a problem, or getting what you want accomplished. Results are tangible things we focus on.
So when you are focused on achieving your preferred resolution, “my partner will start spending more time with me on the weekends”, that is focusing on results. Another kind of result might be “my parents will accept me for who I am”. An example of focusing on personal results might be “I will no longer be crippled by anxiety” or “I will love and accept myself fully”.
But you don’t actually have control over these results. All of them require not only your energy and dedication, but they also require the energy and dedication of others. They may even require the right set of external circumstances to fall into place before that result will manifest itself. Even the personal results.
Just to explore this a little further let’s take “I will no longer be crippled by anxiety”. Not only does that require your own effort, but it may require that you have a supportive network of people in your life. It may require that you don’t experience any new large traumas in life which leave you with new phobias or fears. It may also require a change in your environment which may be difficult to pinpoint or difficult to change. It may even require that you are “in the right place at the right time”, a very mysterious condition indeed.
So when you focus on the results you really are focusing on something that is outside of your personal control. Process goals on the other hand are things that you actually do have control over. Focusing on the process means that you are focused on doing what you actually can do to move towards a particular result.
In Nonviolent Communication, we really are focusing on the process rather than the results. In NVC are goals are “to communicate my feelings and needs/values to this other person”, or “listening to the other with compassion”, or “making requests of the other person”. This is a challenge to our whole cultural conditioning. Our culture focuses on getting results. NVC focuses on doing what you actually can accomplish. And in doing that you let go of those things you can’t actually control. All of a sudden your partner’s anger isn’t your responsibility to fix or resolve. All you can do is either listen to them with empathy, or express to them how you feel and what your needs/values are when they are angry.
This isn’t naive thinking, this is reality. All that you have control over is how you behave. And so if you focus on the process, rather than the results, you may find that you have more energy to put into your actions, you have more satisfaction with what happens in life, and that you have less disappointment about unmet expectations.
But that’s not why I wrote this article. If it was, then this would be a results orientated article. My process goal in writing this article was to write something that was alive in my heart and mind in this moment. And I accomplished that process goal.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.