Nonviolent Communication

Whenever you find yourself in a conflict with another being, follow this simple process when you speak about an incident or feeling:

1. Observe objectively: Tell the other the facts (what you are seeing, hearing, or touching) like from a bird perspective, without judging it. NVC discourages static generalizations. It is said that “When we combine observation with evaluation others are apt to hear criticism and resist what we are saying.” Instead, a focus on observations specific to time and context is recommended.

2. Tell about your Feeling: emotions or sensations, free of thought, interpretation and story. F.e. “I feel small, anxious, happy, ..”. These are to be distinguished from thoughts (e.g., “I feel I didn’t get a fair deal”) and from words colloquially used as feelings but which convey what we think we are (e.g., “inadequate”), how we think others are evaluating us (e.g., “unimportant”), or what we think others are doing to us (e.g., “misunderstood”, “ignored”). Feelings are said to reflect whether we are experiencing our needs as met or unmet. Identifying feelings is said to allow us to more easily connect with one another, and “Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable by expressing our feelings can help resolve conflicts.”

3. Tell about you needs: universal human needs, as distinct from particular strategies for meeting needs. It is posited that “Everything we do is in service of our needs.”

4. Ask for something: request for a specific action, free of demand. Requests are distinguished from demands in that one is open to hearing a response of “no” without this triggering an attempt to force the matter. If one makes a request and receives a “no” it is recommended not that one give up, but that one empathize with what is preventing the other person from saying “yes,” before deciding how to continue the conversation. It is recommended that requests use clear, positive, concrete action language.

Then wait openly for an answer and repeat the process.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a communication process developed by Marshall Rosenberg beginning in the 1960s. It often functions as a conflict resolution process. It focuses on three aspects of communication: self-empathy (defined as a deep and compassionate awareness of one’s own inner experience), empathy (defined as listening to another with deep compassion), and honest self-expression (defined as expressing oneself authentically in a way that is likely to inspire compassion in others).

NVC is based on the idea that all human beings have the capacity for compassion and only resort to violence or behavior that harms others when they don’t recognize more effective strategies for meeting needs. NVC proposes that if people can identify their needs, the needs of others, and the feelings that surround these needs, harmony can be achieved.

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