What is Nonviolent Communication?
Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a life-changing way of interacting. It is a process conceived by author and international peacemaker Dr. Marshall Rosenberg designed to help human beings increase their capacity to relate compassionately even under trying circumstances. By consciously choosing our responses based on meeting needs instead of on expressing habitual responses that alienate others, it is possible to resolve differences peacefully. NVC avoids making people defend themselves from value-laden judgments, it employs clear requests in place of demands, and it allows everyone to get their needs met on their own terms, without coercion, fear of retribution, or loss of self-esteem.
What are the typical situations in which I can use NVC?
NVC can be used in any relationship and in any setting – be it personal or business – where conflict arises. At home you may have a difficult teen or you think your spouse is not being open enough. At the office employees seem disgruntled, unproductive or uncooperative. Each of these situations is likely by a lack of communication or miscommunication. Quite often one or more of the people in a personal or professional relationship may not even realize the problem, which is where NVC can help.
How would NVC benefit me?
NVC helps you to see differently, express differently and hear differently. We live in a world of miscommunication, often misinterpreting what each other is saying. We often become defensive when we experience differences with others. We use words like right/wrong, good/bad, normal/abnormal based in moralistic judgment which consistently increases resistance and tension. NVC instead helps us to become much more discerning, non-reactive and openly inquiring. It asks us to dig deeper. In practical terms, this means clearly observing words and behaviours and letting others know how our needs are impacted as a result. By using this form of language we become less antagonistic towards each other during stressful moments, increasingly open and compassionate and very creative and effective in generating solutions.
I still feel skeptical about NVC. What's with that?
You're heading a little into the unknown. Because NVC is about expressing our honesty and listening empathically, we may feel vulnerable at times. Yes it's natural to feel hesitant about anything you haven’t heard of before – you are taking a risk. Another common reason for skepticism might be that you'd don't trust that it's possible to get results. Skepticism is natural and healthy. Just don't let it keep you stuck and prevent you from openly exploring productive alternatives. The effectiveness of NVC is undeniable. Take a leap and become living proof of its effectiveness.
Once I've started using NVC, how will my life be different?
You'll likely feel an immense hope and optimism as you recognize your own power to deepen your connection with yourself and others. NVC may help to clarify situations and identify your feelings and needs, make clear requests to meet those needs, and support others to do the same. Once you've learned how to communicate your feelings and needs to others in a way that doesn't blame or criticize, and also takes their needs into account, you're well on the road to re-connecting with others and discovering solutions.
How long does it take to become adept with NVC?
Learning NVC is like learning any new language - it takes some time. There is an initial exciting as well as awkward phase as you explore and learn to identify your own feelings and needs. But like any other skill or competency, the most important piece is commitment and persistence. The greater the commitment, the greater the payoff will be. It can be said though that many people, simply by embracing the notion of communicating in this new way, experience significant successes even after a 1 or 2 day workshop.
How can I use NVC to help others in my life?
The first step is to help ourselves by getting in touch with ourselves. We need to explore our self-talk, thought processes and actions. And we need to become acquainted with our needs and associated feelings. When we get clarity on our own feelings and needs, the universality of these becomes apparent. With practice, it becomes much easier to identify the feelings and needs in others which is of course of great benefit to everyone. The beauty is that it only takes one person to set the stage for a significant breakthrough in a relationship - which can't help but rub off on other people.
Arriving with an open heart and finding out that NVC could stretch and open so much more was an unexpected and joyous gift. To be able to move beyond simple surface analysis to true spirit connection was absolutely great for me.