Nonviolent communication, or NVC for short, is a language practice that supports individuals and couples in having a dialogue where self responsibility and empathy are prioritized.
I like to explain nonviolent communication as compassionate communication to my clients because it speaks through the heart, utilizes understanding based and trains us to reach out, build a bridge and connect through conflict.
This language of compassion also improves observation skills, reframes our expression, helps us consciously and honestly respond, and become self aware of feelings, needs and specify what we want.
So who would be great to imagine right now as you learn this? Who are you having a conflict with currently? NVC has a basic frame that once you get down you can loosen and play with. Here’s how it goes:
Step one: observation without evaluation: share what you saw heard, exact wording, stick to the facts. An example: when I saw you do this (I roll) or when I heard you say “whatever” ...
These next three steps is where you take personal responsibility - so we use I statements - that takes back your power instead of choosing to believe others control how you feel or to give you what you need. I’ll explain:
Step two: share emotions : remember emotions are synonyms off of the research based six: happy, angry, sad, and surprise, fear, disgust (So I felt rejected… Is not an emotion, it’s a perception that has some emotions in it-maybe angry anger maybe sadness. I felt this will never change… Is a thought, not an emotion. But the emotions underneath the thought might have been fear or sadness“ does this make sense does make sense so far?
Step 3: Say what needs are connected to the emotions: Needs are where our core values, longings and vulnerabilities reside. Needs name and claim your power (and move you out of the blame game (I.E. I feel angry when friends don’t all because I want regular contact with everyone I’m close too OR When you say “I’ll try to pick that up after work, I feel scared that won’t happen and I need confirmation.”
Step 4: A very specific request: Use positive action language to ask for what you want through a measurable task. (Would you be willing to plan a date night every other week starting this week? OR I’d like you to tell me if you’ll be able to take out the trash every three weeks.” Requests are not demands, they have room for a NO. And then empathy comes in for all, and renegotiate.
There are many more components to NVC, but for now you’ve got the basics. Try it out with someone this week and let me know how this new practice goes.