Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
a book by Marshall Rosenberg
(our site's book review)
Rosenberg declares that “The primary purpose of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is to connect with other people in a way that enables giving to take place: compassionate giving. It’s compassionate in that our giving comes willingly from the heart. We are giving service to others and ourselves – not out of duty or obligation, not out of fear of punishment or hope for a reward, not out of guilt or shame, but for what I consider part of our nature. It’s in our nature to enjoy giving to one another.”
The author offers us a new communication context like so: “NVC guides us in reframing how we express ourselves and hear others. Instead of being habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on an awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling and wanting. We are led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and emphatic attention. In any exchange we come to hear our own deeper needs and those of others.”
The Four components of NVC:
1. observation in which we non-judgmentally express what is happening
2. feelings in which we express how we feel when we observe this action
3. needs we say what needs of ours are connected to the feelings expressed
4. request the action we request in order to enrich our lives
It sounds like this:
“Joe, when I see the mess you left in the kitchen, I feel irritated because I am needing a clean, orderly kitchen. Would you be willing to clean it so we can both enjoy using it?”
The two parts to NVC communication are:
1. Expressing honesty through the four components, above
2. Receiving emphatically through the four components
When listening to the other person, listen for the feeling and need behind each statement without agreeing or disagreeing.
Blame, insults, put-downs, labels, criticism, comparisons, and diagnoses are all forms of judgment. Good communication must never contain these things. Replace these with expressing honestly and receiving empathically. This will lead to compassionate communication instead of conflict.
The book is very peace promoting and violence preventing. It has lots of good examples of statements that contain criticism and judgments. These are to be avoided. There are lots of examples of the right way to communicate, to use in place of these communication blocks.
An example is:
“When you don’t greet me at the door, I feel neglected.” – interpretation
“When you don’t greet me at the door, I feel lonely.” – real feeling
The second one is the right way to communicate, which can lead to compassionate communication and connection. The first one is an interpretation of how you feel, that is a way of repressing the feeling underneath by interpreting the feeling that doesn’t want to become conscious, and this can lead to blaming, defensiveness, miscommunication, and a failure to communicate or attain connectedness.
He sees giving compliments or praise as just manipulations that are moralistic judgments. Use NVC phrases instead, as already discussed.
Praise is a bad way of instilling self-esteem—it produces not self-esteem but dependency; verbally encouraging is bad for kids if it is done with You statements but good for kids if it is done with I statements ("I'm wondering how you felt when you drew that" or "I appreciate it when you help with dishes")
NVC creates more consciousness than most methods of communication, as it forces one to really see what is going on, check out what feelings one is having, check out what need one has is being an influence, and check out what one needs from the other person to enhance both of your lives. This takes an inner perception, an insight requirement, and most of all, a CHOICE to communicate compassionately. To the degree you can be proactive and not reactive in communication and choose to respond to situations in this conscious manner, you become a conscious person.
He explains: “Instead of being habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on an awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling and wanting.”
The Nonviolent Communication protocol, when used in a parenting context, is authoritative and democratic. It is Authoritative Lite—natural consequences are part of the discipline arrangement, but logical consequences are not. NVC is a complete communication system, but is not as complete a parenting method as P.E.T. and some others. It’s also a bit more complicated and challenging to apply to parenting than a method like P.E.T. There haven’t been that many studies of its effectiveness, but there are tons of testimonials of people who found NVC to be invaluable in their lives. It helps people become able to communicate compassionately. It helps them become conscious people.