Nonviolent Communication (NVC) developed by Marshall Rosenberg, is an approach which helps us to communicate compassionately with others. It aims to resolve conflicts by enabling us to honestly express our feelings and needs, whilst also empathetically listening to the feeling and needs of others.
Shared Human Needs
NVC is based on the understanding that we have shared human needs and a strong need for connection. We begin to explore ways of fulfilling our needs, and the needs of others in the most ethical and compassionate way possible. From a compassionate space, our concepts of right or wrong begin to dissolve and we may remove ourselves from judgement, assumptions and limiting beliefs - which usually restrict our ability to communicate authentically with others.
Language and Communication
Our language and communication with others is often based on judgements, comparisons, or the assumption that certain behaviors merit punishment or reward. This often includes making demands on ourselves or others-using phrases such as should, or supposed to. Such communication can result in a denial of choice or responsibility and ultimately breaks down our connection with others.
NVC enables us to embody a greater awareness of ourselves including our thoughts, bodily sensations, feelings and needs. We are then more able to access our inner wisdom and freedom to choose our response within any situation. This style of communication involves less doing and more being; it is a process of “letting go” and being open to our experiences.
It is a four-step process which includes:
Making observations - which are free of judgments, labels and comparisons.
Accessing our feelings
Recognizing what our needs are in relationships to our values
Making requests which are free of demands.
This style of communication requires a certain level of vulnerability and self-awareness. There needs to be a willingness to explore our feelings and needs, along with the courage to connect with them in the present moment. This also means developing the ability to recognize our bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings, needs, and then become aware that there are choices available to us.
We begin to notice that our feelings depend on whether or not certain needs are being met. When our needs are being met, we meet more pleasurable feelings such as joy, compassion, warmth and calmness. When are needs are not being met, feelings such as anger, annoyance, sadness or pain may arise.
Listening to the Feeling & Needs of Others
There are many ways that our needs can be met within any situation or circumstance, however, we aim to value our needs and feelings just as equally another person’s. This does not mean that we are directly taking responsibility, or denying responsibly for another person’s feelings and needs, but we aim to find a balanced way of hearing and responding compassionately to the needs of others.
The final stage of NVC involves making requests. In making requests we value no as much as a yes, and this comes from cultivating the ability to connect with the other person. Connection on this level requires setting the intention to listen empathetically to the other person through presence, focus, and a calm space.