Notes on Nonviolent Communication

February 4, 2021 -

📝What is NVC

  • A way to give from heart
  • Hear our own deeper needs and those of others

📝Components of NVC (applied to both expressing honestly + receiving empathically)

  1. Observation
  2. Feelings
  3. Needs
  4. Requests

📝Communication that blocks compassion

  1. Moralistic judgements
    • Imply wrongness or badness on people who don’t share our values
    • Such judgements are actually expressions of our own needs and values
    • Value judgment vs. moralistic judgement
      • value judgment: beliefs of how life can best be served
      • moralistic judgement: they’re made when people fail to support our value judgements
  2. Making comparison
  3. Denial of responsibility
    • Our language obscures awareness of personal responsibility
    • Instead of implying lack of choice, acknowledge choice
  4. Communicate desire as demand
    • Demand threatens listeners with blame or punishments if they fail to comply
    • People change not to avoid punishment but to benefit themselves

📝Observing without evaluating

  • When combining observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear criticism.
  • NVC discourages static generalizations; Instead, evaluations are made based on observations specific to time and context.

📝Identifying and expressing feelings

  • If we’re not aware of feelings, we can’t express them
  • Feelings vs. Non-Feelings
    • Feelings != Thoughts
    • Feelings != What we think we are (eg. “I feel inadequate as a guitar player”)
    • Feelings != How we think others react or behave towards us (eg. “I feel understood”)

📝Taking responsibility for our feelings

  • What others do may be the stimulus of our feelings, but not the cause
  • 4 options for receiving negative messages
    1. blame ourselves
    2. blame others
    3. sense our own feelings and needs
    4. sense others’ feelings and needs
  • Connect feeling with need: “I feel…because I need…”
  • Judgments of others are actually alienated expressions of our own unmet needs. If we express our needs, we have a better chance of getting them met.
  • 3 Stages
    1. Emotional slavery: believe ourselves are responsible for the feelings of others (eg. feel overwhelmed when seeing partner in pain)
    2. Obnoxious: refuse to admit to caring others’ feels or needs (eg. “That’s your problem! I’m not responsible for your feelings!”)
    3. Emotional liberation: accept responsibility for our own feelings but not the feelings of others, while being aware that we can never meet our own needs at the expense of others.

📝Requesting that which would enrich life

  • Make request with positive and concrete actions that reveals what we want
  • Make request consciously
    • Make request != express feelings
    • We are often not conscious of what we are requesting (eg. complained loudly ”I’ve never seen a train go so slow in all my life!”)
    • Request may sound like demand when unaccompanied with by speaker’s feelings and needs (eg. “Why don’t you go and get a haircut?”)

📝Connecting compassionately with ourselves

  • Avoid shoulding yourself!
  • Self-judgements, like all judgements, are tragic expressions of unmet needs

📝Expressing anger fully

  • Hurting people when we are angry is superficial - we want a more powerful way to fully express ourselves
  • Steps to express anger
    1. Stop. Breath.
    2. Identify our judgmental thoughts
    3. Connect with our needs
    4. Express our feelings and unmet needs

📝Conflict resolution and mediation

  • Resolve conflicts by building human connections
  • We are taught by society to criticize, insult, and otherwise communications to that keep us apart. In a conflict, both parties usually spend too much time intent on proving themselves right and the other party wrong, rather than paying attention to their own and others’ needs.
  • Steps
    1. Express our own needs
    2. Search for real needs of the other person
    3. Verify we both accurately recognize the other person’s needs
    4. Provide empathy to hear each other’s needs accurately
    5. Propose strategies for resolving the conflict, framing them in positive action language

📝Liberating ourselves and counseling others

  • Focus on what we want rather than what went wrong

📝Expressing appreciation in NVC

  • Express appreciation to celebrate, not to manipulate
  • Thank you = This is what you did + This is what I feel + This is the need of mine that was met