Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a communication technique that aims to improve the quality of relationship between two people or a group of people based on empathy, kindness, cooperation and understanding of the other.
This communication tool was created and developed by the psychologist Marshall Rosenberg as part of interventions in schools where violence represented the daily life of students and staff in the 1960s. The NVC made it possible to resolve conflicts in the framework of work.
However, this communication technique can be used both professionally and personally.
The NVC process can be used to:
1) Communicate with yourself to clarify what is happening in you (self-empathy);
2) Communicate with others in a way that promotes understanding and acceptance of the message;
3) Receive a message from the other, listen to it in a way that promotes dialogue regardless of how they express themselves.
For this process to really foster cooperation and dialogue, this requires:
- Attention to the present moment;
- A clear intention to promote dialogue and cooperation.
The components of NVC.
Rosenberg developed this technique on 4 bases:
O as an observation. It is about observing and describing precisely the behaviors (or words) that increase or decrease our well-being and avoiding judgments. Otherwise, you will force your interlocutor to adopt a defensive and counterattack attitude, which prevents understanding of your needs and your request.
Here are two examples that separate observation and judgment:
“You are always busy” (evaluation) VS “It’s been 2 months since you called me” (observation);
“You rarely do what I want” (evaluation) VS “the last 3 times when I proposed an activity, you said that you did not want to participate” (observation).
NVC recommends speaking of concrete facts to describe the events rather than attributing definitive characteristics to the interlocutor or to the world, which mentally encloses him in a box.
It’s like Feeling. It’s about expressing what’s going on in us. For this, it is necessary to be aware of how we feel and to have a developed self-knowledge. It is also useful to develop our affective vocabulary because we can (and we often do) use words, verbs, which do not express what we feel.
Again, it is important not to interpret when we want to describe how we feel so as not to block communication.
For example, to say “I feel that you no longer love me” is an interpretation of what the person thinks of his interlocutor and not an emotion. On the contrary, to say “I am afraid when you say that” is the expression of an emotion (without interpretation).
B as needs. Know that last every emotion, there is a need. The awareness of the link between our needs and our feelings is important if not we limit, we slow down the understanding of what is happening in us.
Not knowing this link leads to resent others and blurs the line between us and others. Blaming them for our feelings often causes them to feel guilty and diminishes their ability to have kind interactions with us.
To maintain awareness of the cause and effect link between what is happening in us and our feelings, the CNV recommends following the expression of a feeling of “because” in a formulation which explains that this is what happens in us that generates this feeling.
Here are two examples where the concept of need (satisfied or not) is clearly stated:
“When you arrived 30 minutes after the agreed date, I was upset because I wanted to stick to my schedule to feel like I had accomplished something.”
“I was delighted that you enjoyed the story I wrote because I need to have confidence in my writing skills.”
The needs are universal. What is different is the strategy used to meet these needs.
Most of us have not been educated to think about our needs. But, when the latter are not satisfied, we have rather been taught to think about what is wrong with others. These assessments of others are indirect expressions of our unmet needs. They are more likely to provoke resistance and aggression than to arouse the desire to meet our needs.
D as request. It’s about asking what I would like to receive to make my life more beautiful.
We have seen how to say what is going on inside us to inspire kindness. This requires, as we have seen, that we are aware of our perceptions, our feelings and our needs, and capable of formulating them without implying for a second that the other wrongly. For benevolence to flourish, we must also ask for acts that can meet our needs. For this, we will use positive action language: clearly say what we want and not what we do not want.
For example, a teacher instructs his student to stop tapping the pencil on the desk while he is speaking. The student then dropped the pencil and started tapping his finger on the desk, but his teacher remained frustrated while his student did what he asked.
In fact, the professor wanted the student to simply stop making noise during his lesson, but he did not clearly state his need or request.
Saying what we don’t want doesn’t make it clear what we want. And wanting to suppress unwanted behavior automatically generates violence.
NVC is not the only way to initiate and maintain communication between people. The stages of the NVC do not necessarily have to follow the order established above.
Finally, the technique of non-violent communication seems easy to apply at first glance. However, it is a complicated technique to implement in reality. This is why learning NVC is carried out with professionals trained in this language.
Derya Selin Kazkondu