Irreverent and empathetic, Luca Grasso of UP! provides his clients with wisdom and support through nonviolent communication guidance and coaching.
"We are lonely but social animals, we need inner peace and healthy interactions.
My work with nonviolent communication can, ideally, change the world, and make it more peaceful and more enjoyable for everyone."
This month's Small Business Story features Luca Grasso, founder and owner of UP!, a business created to support people with their struggles. Luca created UP! out of a genuine desire to offer people a space where they could explore themselves without judgment. And if you've ever met Luca, you know he's just the person for the job. Luca and I grabbed some tea in Leiden in March to talk about entrepreneurship and business and about nonviolent communication (NVC) and coaching – Luca's bread and butter. (I'll touch on that a bit later.) I was instantly impressed by Luca's passion for what he does and for how he does it. Luca is articulate and patient and didn't hesitate to dive into some deep topics during our chat. In this situation, that meant explaining to me his views on communication, empathy, and compassion.
And, especially important for a coach, his presence invited vulnerability. I found myself struggling not to turn our talk into my own personal therapy session, which bodes well for any future clients of his.
When asked what his favorite thing is about connecting with clients, Luca had a long list. For him, creating a relationship of trust at the beginning is important, as well as "hearing things that clients are saying for the first time in their lives, observing them both comfortably laughing and crying, (each is part of the other), and much more." I asked Luca if he's had any struggles with his business (I mean, haven't we all?) and he said, "Definitely predictability." As an entrepreneur myself, I found this so relatable. "While I enjoy the enormous amount of freedom in what I do, I have struggled in the past with predicting what will happen next," Luca said. While Luca still struggles with predictability once in a while, he says the struggle is more with taming his anxiety about it while staying focused on what he does and why. According to Luca, it usually solves itself with the right attitude.
As part of every Small Business Story, I asked Luca what he wishes he'd known ten years ago. For him, the answer was an easy one.
"It was the emptiness of the past that created the space I needed to learn what I know now."
"I wish I had known more about nonviolent communication. It would have helped me to take responsibility for my emotional reactions and helped me to empathize more with others.
"From my daughters to my ex-partners, from my parents to my friends, from total strangers to myself – what I know now is priceless.
"And even though I would have loved to know what I know back then, I have no regrets. It was the emptiness of the past that created the space I needed to learn what I know now."
At this point, you may be wondering what nonviolent communication is. And no, it doesn't mean mastering the art of not getting into a fistfight every time someone irritates you or not angrily laying on the horn in heavy traffic. I asked Luca to define it for me, and he chuckled. "Every time I have a seminar or a meeting about NVC, I spend the first ten minutes explaining what it means." He said another name for it is compassionate communication, and that some people even criticize the name NVC and think there should be a better one. But Luca drew much of his inspiration for nonviolent communication coaching from Marshall Rosenberg, who emphasizes that the purpose of NVC is to focus on communication through the natural state of compassion where no violence is present. So for Luca, the name Nonviolent Communication is perfect.
From Previous Small Business Stories
Dana: What is the first thing you think of in the morning? Luca: I have never focused on this, so I can't find a great answer. What I do know is that I put my coffee on and start writing. I love writing in the dawn of the morning while my mind and body are not fully awake yet.
Stephanie: How would the world look different if you were able to reach more people with the work you do? What would change in the world?
Luca: Oh yes, the world would change for sure! People would be more empathetic and thus more confident. They would be able to communicate with themselves and others more clearly, specifically, and compassionately.
As we are lonely but social animals, we need inner peace and healthy interactions. My work with nonviolent communication can, ideally, change the world, and make it more peaceful and more enjoyable for everyone. It sounds like a utopia and probably is. But, it's not as unrealistic as people may think.
Luca's question for the next person? If you were a client needing your services, would you choose yourself? And if yes, why? :)
To get in touch with Luca, you can find him here:
For more Small Business Stories, stay tuned for next month's interview! See you next time!
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