3 non-violent communication lessons by Greta, the 16-year-old environmental activist
That is the conclusion my friend who works on peace education and I reached over coffee. Greta, the 16-year-old student from Sweden who tackles climate change, is delivering non-violent communication lessons, enchanting people who follow her work.
Greta introduces herself as an environmental activist who has Asperger. Through her work she addresses stereotypes which project young people as being disinterested in social progress, and people with Asperger, disinterested in the needs of others.
Greta is concerned about climate change, limited interest of adults and information gap among young people regarding the impact on everyday life. She feels that there can be no future for her peers. When in the company of adults, she would stress:
Our future was stolen from us every time you said that ‘the sky was the limit’, and that ‘you only live once’.
About the “Fridays for Future” movement
August 2018, Greta makes the decision to act for the environment. Every Friday, she strikes from school to sit in front of the local council, holding in silence a banner of protest. She wants to ensure the commitment of adults making decisions, to action for the protection of the environment. She believes that the environmental crisis is existential crisis.
Soon, people would start to join her cause, within and beyond borders. Her work becomes a trending topic on social media. It inspires the youth community and the creation of the Fridays for Future movement. This means that every Friday, there are school strikes around the world. And Greta is invited to deliver speeches at councils worldwide.
Greta reveals how devastated she felt when she found out about the impact of climate change on everyday life. She feared that there is no future for young people. When she shared her concerns with her parents, together, they made the decision to change their way of living life.
She believes that modern life is destroying the environment that surrounds us. She travels abroad by train, never by plane. She avoids eating meat and its byproducts. She buys no new things.
Principles of non-violence communication
Greta gains the attention of others in a creative way. Her speeches are based on principles of non-violent communication such as:
- persistence and patience
- avoidance of blaming and naming
- use of humour
She relies on persistence and patience
Greta delivers her message in a steady way. When interviewed, she reiterates the same message, regardless of reactions – be it positive or negative. She remains focussed on her goal.
Every Friday, no matter what the weather is like, no matter where she is, she sits in front of the local council; in front of adults making decisions which can affect our future. She knows that it takes time to make a message understood. She can wait.
She avoids blaming and naming
In a creative way, she encourages adults to assume accountability for their actions, and turn promises into reality. She reminds them that it is their job to do so. Blaming and punishment have no place in her speeches.
She would focus on the desired outcome and the desired change. She refers to past mistakes only to highlight what needs to be improved / resolved today, and avoided in the future. Towards the end, Greta stresses that young people and adults, can work together to tackle climate change.
She uses humour as a communication tool
She can pleasantly surprise her audience and win their trust. To give an example, when she recently addressed the UK Parliament, she told the members:
Is the microphone really on? Did you hear me? Is my English OK? Because I’m beginning to wonder…
In response, the members laughed and applauded.
There is no naming and no blaming. Greta tells them that action is still not being taken on climate change. They acknowledge so and pay close attention to what she has to propose.
From my point of view, Greta tells us all that it takes one person to make a difference. Provided that it is done in a calm and patient way, with the public interest in mind.
Have a creative week
For more information, please visit Greta’s twitter account. Click
Main photo: Geralt on Pixabay