What would it be like if you could work with powerful emotions, in yourself and others, find the wonderful sentiment behind all of it, and use that base to create a connection and meaning?
Non-violent Communication (NVC) is a language that helps us to connect with ourselves and others to understand one another, and to explore ways we can willingly and naturally contribute to one another’s well-being. Also often called Compassionate Communication.
In essence, powerfully working with needs and feelings to create connection and shared understandings… Emotional intelligence
Some links to organizations and centers:
“People try nonviolence for a week, and when it does not work, they go back to violence, which hasn’t worked for centuries.” Theodore Roszak
For a PDF of all the material below, and much more, download here
Compassionate Communication — an introduction
- Depression, guilt, blame, labeling, obeying, should, demands, comparing, judgment (whose fault?), and shame = alarm clock not meeting needs
- Any words we use that imply the wrongness of others are tragic and suicidal. Tragic because it doesn’t lead to people enjoying contributing to our wellbeing, and suicidal because we get defensiveness and counter-aggression. Diagnoses and judgments are tragic and suicidal.
- Anger requires a moralistic judgment to keep it going, a “should.” There is no connection there.
- What people do is not the cause of our feelings. We are responsible for our own feelings.
- Changes in attitude rarely result from displayed facts, lawyerly arguments, or other attempts to persuade.
- Time pressure, situational stress, pain, laziness, anger, fear, envy, pride, and greed are all stumbling blocks toward compassionate communication.
- Agreeing to disagree. This perspective inherently includes disconnection.
- False hope of NVC newbies: “Now I’m going to get my needs met!”
- Seek to understand before being understood.
- Connection is of primary importance. You can’t be making a connection and a point at the same time.
- We are responsible for advocating for our needs. It isn’t anyone else’s job but our own. Clean communication.
- Every choice we make is in service of a need. All behavior is communication
- Nothing feels better than contributing to another person’s well being. In the past 48 hours, what have been your brightest moments? Reflect on a moment when you were really open to giving and receiving.
- When we don’t “hear” people’s pain, it keeps coming out in ways that make empathy even harder.
- Right Speech. It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.
- Power = the capacity to mobilize resources to meet our needs. Power With = I strive to identify, connect with, and meet my needs as well as others’ needs. Power Over = I strive to meet my needs whether or not it meets others’ needs.
Universe of Model Application
- There are only three ways to apply the model of Non-violent Communication.
- That’s it. There is no other way. These are your only options, ever.
Model: (more a consciousness than a technique)
|Observation||When I see / hear . . .||Observation||[When you see/hear . . .]|
|Feeling||I feel . . .||Feeling||Are you feeling . . .|
|Need||Because I need . . .||Need||Because you need . . .|
|Request||Would you be willing?||Request||[Would you like . . .?]|
Description of what is seen or heard without added interpretations. Supports seeking common ground.
- Everyone needs to agree with the observation, like what a video camera would record.
- There are no evaluations; it’s what is without spin. Data. Pure info. “Just the facts.”
- For example, instead of “She’s having a temper tantrum,” you could say “She is lying on the floor crying and kicking.” Without adverbs.
Examples: “Remembering when . . .” “When I think about . . .” “When I see you do . . .”
“When I hear you say . . .” “I’m noticing . . .”
Our emotions rather than our story or thoughts about what others are doing.
- For example, instead of “I feel manipulated,” which includes an interpretation of another’s behavior, you could say “I feel worried.”
- Avoid the following phrasing: “I feel like . . . ” and “I feel that . . .” – the next words will be thoughts or behaviors, not feelings. Instead of saying “I feel like crying,” say “I feel sad and frustrated”
- For folks allergic to the word “feel,” just say the feeling without the word feeling. “I’m upset.” “I’m delighted.” “I’m hurt.” If they are really allergic, skip the feeling and go for the need instead.
Examples: “I get really . . .” “I am . . .” “I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling . . .”
“Sounds like you’re feeling a bit . . .” “I imagine you’re feeling kind of . . .”
“I wonder if you’re feeling . . .” “Seems like you’re feeling sort of . . .”
Feelings are caused by needs, which are universal and ongoing and not dependent on the actions of particular individuals.
- State your need rather than the other person’s actions as the cause. Needs don’t refer to a specific action, thing, or person.
- For example, “I feel annoyed because I need support” rather than “I feel annoyed because you didn’t do the dishes.”
Examples: “I love” “I thrive on” “I really enjoy” “I would be nourished by” “I value” “I want”
“. . . matters to me” “. . . is fun for me” “I feel as I do, because I am needing . . .”
“Were you hoping . . .” “Would you have liked . . .” “Sounds as if you really wanted . . .”
“Perhaps you would have preferred . . .” “And now you’d like . . .” “It’s important to me to have . .”
“You really missed me?” “You want to do your own thing?” “You don’t want to do a chore?”
“You want the same for everyone?” “You want to just chill by yourself?”
Doable, immediate, concrete, and stated in positive action language (what you want instead of what you don’t want).
- Demands are often disguised as questions; there is only one right answer. “Would you clean your room now?”
- A good example, “Would you be willing to come back tonight at the time we’ve agreed?” rather than “Would you make sure not to be late again?”
- Requests are disconnected from demands. A Request is a Strategy if there is no negative consequence to saying no. A demand will piss you or the other person off in some manner if the answer is no.
- You’re asking for understanding, connection, or an action. Striving to meet everyone’s needs.
- By definition, when we make requests, we are open to hearing a “no,” taking it as an opportunity for further dialogue. You have to hear the YES and the NO. What are they saying “yes” to that is inviting them to say “No” to my request? What are the needs behind their choices?
- “Tell me what comes up for you when I say this . . .” “How do you feel about what I just said?
- “I really appreciate your . . . (intention/behavior) . . . can you look at where I might be coming from?”
- “Would you like to hear how I feel about that?” “What does that sound like to you?”
- “Would you be willing to toss ideas around to find something that works for both of us?”
- “What did you get out of what I just said?” “Would you let me know what you heard me say?”
- “Can you tell me how you feel right now?” “What’s your reaction to this?” “What’s up?”
- “How does that sit with you?” “Does that work for you?” “Does that ring true?”
- “Would you tell me what you need in order to agree to my request?”
- “Would you tell me your understanding of my feelings and needs?”
- “Would you tell me what needs of yours are preventing you from saying yes to my request?”
Questions for self reflection before communicating
These are solo, reflection questions – not a dialogue you enter with someone right away
- What’s alive in me? Clearly expressing how I am. My “please.” Receive, with empathy, how you are.
- What’s alive in them? What might their feelings and needs be, both met and unmet?
- What can I do to make life more wonderful?
- What do I want them to do?
- What do I want the person’s reasons to be for doing what I want them to do?
- What do I need to know about their needs so they can freely give me what I want?
- What gets in the way of my holding their needs dear?
- Rate the intensity of my feelings – is this a 2 or 10? Is this an 8 or 9 for me?
- I have to hear the YES and the NO. What are they saying “yes” to that is inviting them to say “No” to my request? What are the needs behind their choices? They are choosing something positive and bright.
- What needs of mine are preventing me from saying yes to their request?
- Can I understand them the way they’d like to be understood?
- Feelings let us know how we are doing; how our “becoming” is going. Reflects a met or unmet need.
- Higher stakes often involve more intense feelings, which may increase the difficulty of practicing NVC.
- The lists of feelings and needs are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative.
|Faux, or Foe, Feelings|
|What are they||Examples|
|Joy and Contentment||Fear and Anxiety|
|Anger & Frustration|
|Sadness and Grief|
|Sad / Sorrowful
Needs are the means/vocabulary of our becoming. Needs are your yes. They serve life.
We are not responsible for meeting other people’s needs. People need to be responsible for meeting their own needs, and for their own feelings. We can still acknowledge the interdependence that exists though, and honor and negotiate the needs people often commit to meeting for one another.
Needs vs. Strategies. Strategies are how people go about trying to meet their needs. When people communicate their strategy as a need, it is often heard as a demand. What = need. How = strategy.
NVC may not result in the resolution of a shared strategy to meet the needs of those involved. There are irreconcilable conflicts of strategies, e.g., Israel and Palestine, past relationships, etc. Feelings and needs can be perfectly understood, but the strategies to get those needs met does not match.
The lists of feelings and needs are not intended to be exhaustive, but rather illustrative.
Success Counselor need mapping:
- Fun Leisure, Creation
- Love and Belonging Identity/Meaning, Understanding, Transcendence, Affection
- Freedom Freedom
- Survival and Safety Subsistence, Protection/Security
- Power and Worth Creation, Participation, Identity/Meaning, Understanding
|Clean Air & Water
Opportunities To Help Others
To Enrich Life
To Serve Life
To Share Life’s Joys & Sorrows
To Speak One’s Mind
Learning New Skills
To Be Someone
To Make Sense Of One’s World
Peace of mind
To be heard / known
Comfort & Ease
Play & Fun
|Beauty To Behold
To Matter To
Shifting World Views
|Old World View||New World View||Old World View||New World View|
|Truth||Thoughts||Intent to correct||Intent to connect|
|Thoughts / Evaluations||Observations||Life-alienating||Life-serving|
|Strategies||Needs||Being (still)||Becoming (evolving)|
|Demands||Requests||Defy or comply||Choice|
|Extrinsic motives||Intrinsic motives|
|Power over others||Power with others|
|Moralistic judgments||Value judgments|
What else is in the downloadable version?
- Giraffe and Jackal as a metaphor
- Preparing for self-expression
- Needs literacy exercise
- Graphic of pathway of emotions
- Dance Floor
- Reading Minds
- Street Giraffe
- Communication that cuts of connection
- Gratitude and NVC
- Enemy images
- Needs and wants — a differentiation
- Clean communication and NVC relationship
- Evaluations masquerading as feelings
- Illusion of getting one’s own needs met all the time
Also, I particularly enjoyed this audio book by Marshall Rosenberg.