"Most of us grew up speaking in a language that encouraged us to label, compare, demand and pronounce judgments, rather than to be aware of what we are feeling and needing."
Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. PhD
Would you like to be able to speak out freely and easily?
Deepen your capacity to listen?
Would you like to face difficult conversations with confidence?
Have you noticed how hard it is to hear someone who is angry and blaming?
And how hard it is to be heard when we express ourselves with blame and judgment for another?
Marshall developed a process called Nonviolent Communication after many, many years listening to and studying the way people communicated with each other, noticing that some could stay connected to compassion and listen with empathy and understanding, whilst others expressed themselves and acted in ways that were painful to hear and understand. He noticed that when we need to be heard the most we express ourselves in ways that are least likely for that to happen! So he set out to bring understanding and awareness to what is going on within us at any moment.
Nonviolent Communication is a process of communication that goes far beyond words. It is based on the perspective that all human beings, from whatever background, share common needs and values. These needs underlie our feelings, and fuel our actions.
Because we all share these needs, people can learn to understand each other and connect with compassion. Focusing attention on needs and values enables differences to be resolved. NVC’s major contribution is that needs and values never conflict, only the strategies we choose; it is our thinking which causes disharmony and conflict.
From war zones to families, this profound body of work has brought about peaceful resolution to many conflicts, and although Marshall died in 2015, his legacy lives on with The Centre for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC.org) and the 400 or so trainers from 30 different countries around the world teaching and sharing his message.
"Analyses of others are actually expressions of our own needs and values."
Whilst NVC is far more than a communication model, the components below offer a simple yet profound guide to supporting more fulfilling relationships, and reducing conflict:
Honestly Expressing how I am and what I would like without using blame, criticism, judgment or demands.
Empathically Listening to another and what he/she would like without hearing blame, criticism, judgment or demands.
Whether expressing or listening, NVC focuses our attention on four pieces of information:
Observations - Objectively describing what you see or hear without using evaluation, moralistic judgment, interpretation or diagnosis
Feelings - Saying how you feel (emotions and body sensations) about what you have observed without assigning blame
Needs - The basic human needs that might or might not be met and are the cause of our feelings
Requests - Clear requests for actions that can support our needs being met.
With practice, this language offers choice in how we relate to one another, by giving us opportunities to hear only feelings and needs behind all behaviour.