Non violent communication is a method that creates relationships based on empathy, compassion, cooperation and harmonious respect for self and others.
The way we have been educated to think and communicate is a huge source of violence on this planet.
Many of us equate violence and physical violence, while there are other forms of violence. For example, the violence that people do to themselves by blaming or criticizing oneself, the abuse when using guilt and shame to have an impact on someone, etc.
So, this way, we are all involved in one way or another by violence.
The concept of nonviolent communication (NVC) has been introduced in the late 80s by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD in clinical psychology. Influenced by Carl Rogers, whom he was a student of, Rosenberg has developed a method of interpersonal communication that is simple and structured to facilitate relationships and enhance them with empathy. Despite the impact of Carl Rogers’ work, NVC is a new discipline in Europe. It appeared a few years ago thanks to a few pioneers, including the Belgian Thomas Ansembourg. Today it has an important impact because of its intrinsic qualities, its applications to mediation.
We have bad communication habits
Our environment and our socio-political education gave us poor communication habits at an early age. Our relationships education has unfortunately not taken into account relationships with others; whether in our family or at school, we receive an analytic and moralizing language that leads us “naturally” to make value judgments on what is right or wrong, to decree what should be or not, to feel guilty or blame ourselves …
The impact of the words we utter is often underestimated and can lead to extreme situations. M. B. Rosenberg shows us that it is possible to identify many turns of phrases that use the following:
• Label: we classify a person in a category;
• Put Downs: we deny the qualities of another, or reality, attributing causes to the environment or the context;
• Reproach, or worse, insult: we assign to others the responsibility for our annoyance, anger, frustration …
• Merit: we condition action to reward or punishment;
• Comparison: we evaluate ourselves against other;
• Demands: we use verbs such as “have to”, “must” … or we use an accusing and threatening “you”.
Psychology teaches us that what these structures have in common is to bring attention to others to classify, analyze and evaluate them. By taking back responsibility for our actions, our thoughts and our emotions, MB Rosenberg then invites us to identify and replace, in our language, what can induce the 6 angles identified above.
The 4 Stages Of Non violent Communication
Rosenberg breaks down the process of non violent communication in four stages: observation, feelings, needs, requests. He invites NVC practitioners to focus our attention on those four components:
• Observation: Observe the facts (what we are seeing, hearing, or touching) as distinct from our evaluation of meaning and significance. NVC discourages 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.
• Feelings: Identify what I am feeling (emotions or sensations, free of thought and story). 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.”
• Needs: Express my 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.”
• Request: 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 I make a request and receive a “no” it is recommended not that I 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.
There are three ways that we can use the NVC process. We call these ‘the three modes of NVC’. These are:
• Connecting with yourself (internally)
• Expressing yourself
• Receiving (connecting empathically with) others.
Benefits of NVC
The application of nonviolent communication in everyday life generates:
• A sincere listening to the other, that is otherwise expressed with clumsiness. NVC teaches us to understand the true intentions hidden behind the words.
• Self-respect by taking into account our feelings, our needs and respect for others by recognizing theirs.
• Empathy by accepting others and their differences, and creating a link discovering the profound qualities of each of the interlocutors.
• A reciprocal generosity, which is the corollary of the previous three paragraphs.
Applications of NVC
The application fields of non-violent communication are numerous, so everyone can use this process.
• In a couple or family relations through mediation, aggressiveness management
• For a therapeutic purpose through relationship and psychology counseling, impact on self-application of NVC
• In a school environment through listening, dialogue facilitated with children.
• And finally, in the workplace, through negotiation, conflict management or aggressiveness management (client)
Visit the Center for Nonviolent Communication.