Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

Many of our established communication patterns might contribute to dysfunctional relationships, misunderstandings and frustration. While making “moralistic judgments” about other people can alienate them. This differs from making “value judgments,” which we do all the time. Comparing people to each other interferes with authentic communication, as does talking about what someone deserves or denying responsibility for our actions. When we say we have to do something, or someone else is making us do it, we isolate ourselves from other people and pushing the responsibilities away from ourselves.

“Nonviolent or Compassionate Communication” (NVC) offers interpersonal connection “from the heart.” NVC helps us focus and stay humane in tough circumstances. And by using NVC method, we can alter our consciousness so that you see your actions differently which is very important.

Nonviolent or Compassionate Communication (NVC) is “a way of communicating that leads us to give from the heart.”

4 Components of NVC

“observations, feelings, needs and requests.”

In order for us to apply NVC, we need to work through these four elements.

  1. Observe what’s going on.
  2. Share how an event makes you feel and what you need.
  3. If you ask the other person to do something, your request should be specific. 
  4. Ask for something the person can do. Don’t request an attitude change or an abstract intention.

Two sides of NVC

  1. In one, we express ourselves and our reality honestly by working through the four components.
  2. In the other, we receive communication and respond with empathy as  our counterpart(s) and us work through NVC’s four constituent parts.

We can apply NVC to our personal relationships such as within families, in business and in group or societal conflicts.

“First, we observe what is actually happening in a situation: What are we observing others saying or doing that is either enriching or not enriching our life?”

1) Observation

  • We need to separate observation from “evaluation.”
  • What we notice should be specific to a particular “time and context.”
  • Avoid using words like “never” or “frequently” unless we tie them to specific observations.
  • Rather than using time-based words like these, cite the number of instances of the behavior we’ve observed. (Factual)
  • In order to do a better job in separating evaluation and observation, we may review the statements that we intend to offer, and identify any evaluations we attached to them.

2) Identifying and Expressing Feelings

Knowing what we feel is valuable, but people won’t generally support us in developing that insight. Often, we might not know what they feel either even with members of our family.

Therefore, in order to get better at the practice of identifying what we feel, we need to learn to distinguish between our emotions and thoughts.

If we can replace “I feel” in a statement with “I think,” we may need to work harder to identify our emotions. Likewise, if we follow the statement “I feel” with someone’s name or the word “that,” we’re probably intellectualizing an emotion or presenting an evaluation as a feeling. Which is not actually helpful in identifying and expressing our feelings.

“When we simply express our feelings, it may not be clear to the listener what we want them to do.”

Something another person does or says can be the “stimulus” for what we feel, but it’s never the cause of our feelings.

Our feelings result from how we receive others’ actions and statements which is, in fact, a choice we make in combination with what we need and what we expect at that moment.

How to response when someone said something negative

  • We can blame ourselves.
  • We certainly can blame others.
  • We also can pay attention to what we feel and need, or
  • We can pay attention to what others feel and need.

Now, thinking through these options will help us become aware of what’s happening, what people are feeling and why. This is a very valuable step toward identifying the needs at the root of what we feel and what other people feel. Which by all means, a great social and interpersonal skills.

“The more we empathize with the other party, the safer we feel.”

3) Identifying Needs

Most people lack experience identifying what they need including me.

Most of the time, we might have learned to criticize others when our needs aren’t met.

For example, if we want a clean, well-organized home, we might nag someone in our family for leaving a shirt, without ever recognizing your deeper need for clear spaces.

Sadly, this also happens in large-scale conflicts or in disagreements between workers and business owners. Rather than identifying what they need, people hurl accusations labeling others and their actions.

So, what are actually our needs?
  • We have physical needs, like food and water.
  • We also have spiritual needs, like beauty and harmony.
  • Some needs relate to autonomy and integrity, like being able to choose your values or create your vision.
  • Others spring from interdependence, like community, acceptance and appreciation.

Before anyone else can value our needs, first we must acknowledge and value them ourselves.

Identifying our needs is an important step in a larger journey of “emotional liberation.”

The Emotional Liberation odyssey three main stages:

  1. First, we will experience “emotional slavery,” when you feel responsible for what others feel. And that my friends, are a huge burden. 
  2. Second comes the “obnoxious stage,” when we reject that responsibility. We know what we aren’t responsible for, but we don’t yet know how to respond to what others feel. This might be my personal stage en-route to my emotional liberation. 
  3. In the third stage, emotional liberation,is when take responsibility for your intentions and your actions. As of myself, still a work in progress.

“When we first begin asking others to reflect back what they hear us say, it may feel awkward and strange because such requests are rarely made.” 

p.s. I made such request once, it was very awkward one though. 

4) Ask for What You Need

NVC’s fourth component is requesting, which means, asking other people for things “that would enrich our life.”

Ask for “that would enrich our life.”

  • Use active language when we make a request.
  • We need to be specific and positive.
  • Don’t ask people not to do something.

Remember, we need to ask them to take specific positive actions.

For example, don’t ask your spouse not to spend as much time at work or not to treat you disrespectfully. Ask, instead, to share more intimate time or to look into your eyes and listen when you talk to each other. If you just express your feelings, your listener might not realize what you want or that you want anything at all which will lead to miscommunication. 

“The cause of anger lies in our thinking – thoughts of blame and judgment.”

When we make a request, remember that we need to express our needs and feelings clearly. This makes our requests seem less like demands.

In addition to personal requests for actions that address our needs, ask our listeners to reflect back what we’ve heard, to confirm that they heard what we intended for them to hear.

Oh yes, remember to thank those who agree to your requests, and empathize with those who decline.

Finally, once all done and dusted. Ask what our listeners feel in response to our request, what they are thinking and how willing they are to take specific actions.

Asking a group to do something takes extra care:

If we aren’t clear, we will waste other people’s time.

Therefore, we need to make sure that we present a request, not a demand.

People see someone who makes a demand as criticizing those who don’t agree or trying to make them feel guilty.

Thus, when we make a request, empathize with the person who receives it.

And throughout this process, remember that our larger goal is to build “a relationship based on honesty and empathy.”

“Speakers expressing intensely emotional messages would appreciate our reflecting those back to them.”

Remember that the goal is to build “a relationship based on honesty and empathy.”

Author: Aarif Billah

Those who matters would know, and those doesn't know won't matter

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