It is a concept that I discovered by reading books to try to get me out of my depression, last year. It is in any case a good way to improve our interpersonal communication and understanding of others.
Nonviolent communication commits us to reconsider the way we speak and we listen to each other, fixing our attention on four elements: the observation of a situation, the feelings aroused by this situation, which needs are linked to these feelings, and finally what we could ask specifically to meet our needs. NVC raises quality of listening, respect and empathy, and created a reciprocal generosity current. Some people use NVC to better understand their own needs, other to deepen a relationship, establish effective working relationships or managing political situations. In many countries, people use it to resolve all kinds of disputes and conflicts.
It is in our nature to love giving and receiving. However, we have learned several forms of “alienating language” that lead us to express ourselves or to behave in an offensive manner with the others and ourselves. One of these forms of alienating communication is the use of moralistic judgments that imply that those whose behavior does not reflect our values are wrong or are bad. Another is based on comparisons that can hamper kindness toward ourselves and towards others. The alienating communication also prevents us from being fully aware that everyone is responsible for his own thoughts, feelings and actions. Another bad feature of this type of communication is to communicate his desires as requirement.
I honestly express how I feel, without making any reproach or criticize :
1) what I observe (see, hear, remember, imagine and put no evaluation in it) that is not contributing to my well-being “when I see, hear, XXX”
2) how I feel (emotion or sensation rather than thought) compared to what I see “I feel XXX”
3) how this need affects my values (rather than a preference or a specific action) that awakens my feelings “because I need / I attach importance to”
4) I clearly demand what could embellish/enrich my life without this being a requirement. The concrete actions that I would like “would you like to XXX?”
“When I see that you never suck me, I feel repulsive, because I need you to show me you love my body. Would you be willing to suck me after I licked you? “
I listen with empathy how you feel, without hearing blame or criticism :
1) what you observe (see, hear, remember, imagine without putting your feedback in it) or is not contributing to your well-being “when you see, hear XXX”
2) how you feel (emotion or sensation rather than thought) compared to what you observe “you feel XXX”
3) what you need that affects your values (rather than a preference or a specific action) that arouses your feelings “because you need / you grant importance to”
4) I receive with empathy what could embellish/enrich your life without this being a requirement. Concrete actions would you like to see “would you/would you XXX?”
“If I understand when I tell you that I consider you as my best friend, you feel lousy because you need a good lover fucks you in doggy style. Would you like to come to my house tonight? “
The first component of NVC is to clearly separate observation and evaluation. When we mix observation and evaluation, our interlocutor risk to hear criticism and to resist what we are really saying. NVC is a dynamic language that discourages frozen generalizations and replaces them with circumstantial observations. We will so more willingly say: “In twenty matches I have never seen Ocampos scoring one single goal” than “Ocampos is a bad soccer player.”
The second component of NVC is to express our feelings. By developing an emotional vocabulary which allows us to clearly and accurately describe our emotions, we can more easily establish a link with others. Showing our vulnerability by expressing our feelings can help to resolve conflicts. Finally, NVC distinguishes the real feelings of words describing thoughts, judgments and interpretations.
The third component of NVC is to identify needs that our feelings stem. The actions and words of others can be triggers, but never the cause of our feelings. Faced with a negative message we can choose to respond in four ways:
– Judging us at fault
– Blaming others
– Identifying our own feelings and needs
– Identifying the feelings and needs that lie behind the negative message from the other
The judgments, criticisms, diagnoses and interpretations on the other are expressions diverted from our own needs and values. When the other heard a criticism, it tends to put all his energy to defend against or attack. Better we can combine our feelings to our needs, the other can better respond with empathy.
In a world where we are often judged harshly when we identify and reveal our need, this can be scary.
By learning to take responsibility for our feelings, we usually go through three phases:
– Emotional slavery where we believe responsible for the feelings of others;
– The execrable phase where we refuse to admit the feelings and needs of others matter to us;
– Emotional release where we hold ourselves our own feelings but not those of others, knowing that we can never satisfy our own needs at the expense of the other.
The fourth component of NVC draws our attention to what enriches our lives and the one of others, and invites us to mutually formulate clear demands. We try to avoid imprecise, ambiguous or abstract formulations and use positive action language by stating that we ask rather than what we do not ask.
The more precisely we express what we want, the more likely we are to get it. From the fact the message we send do not always coincide with what is received, we can learn about ways to know if our message has been correctly understood. When we speak to a group, let’s be particularly attentive to specify the precise nature of the reaction we want. Otherwise, we may initiate unproductive conversations, that make the group waste lots of time.
Requests are seen as requirements where the recipient is convinced he will be criticized or punished if he does not obey. We can help our partners to believe that indeed we express a request and not a requirement, we would appreciate that they access our desires if they are really willing to. The point of NVC is not to change others and their behaviors in order to get what we want. You cannot make someone do what he does not want in fact. That’s to establish relations based on sincerity and empathy which, ultimately, will satisfy the needs of everyone.
Empathy is an imprint understanding of respect for what others live. Instead of offering empathy, we often tend to give advice, to comfort, to give our opinion or expose our feelings. Empathy does require us to do the emptiness in our mind and that we totally listen to each other.
In NVC, whatever the words chosen by the other to express themselves are, we simply listen to his observations, feelings, needs and what he asks. We can choose to paraphrase his words, to show that we understood. Maintaining empathy leaves him a chance to fully express before our attention to find solutions or his comfort request.
We need to be ourselves “full” of empathy to be able to give to others. When we are on the defensive or unable to empathize, we need:
– Either to stop breathing and doing emergency return on ourselves;
– Or howling in CNV that is to say, to express forcefully what happens in us, by applying the principles of NVC;
– Or even to withdraw to give us time to think.
Developing our ability to be empathetic keeps us honest, vulnerable, defuse the risk of violence, a refusal to hear without seeing a rejection, revive a conversation, and even to hear the feelings and needs of a silence. We often manage to overcome the paralyzing effects of psychological pain when maintained a fairly strong connection with someone who can get along with empathy.
It is perhaps in the way we treat ourselves that NVC plays its most important role. When we make mistakes, we can use the grieving process of NVC (ie to satisfy what need we have done this or that mistake) or forgiveness to learn to grow up, instead of imprisoning us in moralistic judgments on ourselves . If we evaluate our behavior in terms of our unmet needs, this is not the shame, guilt, anger or depression that lead us to change, but the genuine desire to contribute to our well-being and the others.
We also cultivate compassion toward ourselves by making the conscious choice every day of our lives, to act solely in the service of our own needs and values rather than duty, for an extrinsic reward or to escape the shame, guilt and punishment. In reviewing all the things we undertake to do without any joy and by changing the words “I need” into “I choose to” : we find more game and integrity in our lives. In seduction, we MUST not do anything. You can make the best game of your life and it’s not going to work. Or the worse, and it will work. The trick is to maximize your chances. So coaches that make you feel guilty by saying that you MUST DO THAT and otherwise it will not work, well, they piss me off.
Criticizing and punishing others are all superficial expressions of anger. If we want to fully express the anger, the first step is to discharge the other from liability, in order to bring our full attention to our own feelings and needs. We have more chances to get what we want expressing our needs than in judging, criticizing or punishing the other.
The expression of anger is done thought four stages:
1 – pause and deeply breathe;
2 – identify the judgments that come to mind;
3 – be aware of our needs;
4 – express our feelings and unmet needs.
Maybe that, between steps 2 and 3, we will choose to show empathy to the other to allow to better listening to us when we express our demand 4. But we are never really angry because of the act of another one, since the feelings are in ourselves. We can be angry only if one is predisposed to it, if it is the straw that broke the camel. Often one is angry against each other because one is mad at himself for something.
It is necessary to take time to learn the process of NVC, and also to apply it.
In situations that leave no room for communication – in case of imminent threat for example – we can sometimes be persuaded to use force in a protective purpose. The intention is then to avoid injury or injustice, never to bring individuals to suffer, to repent or to change. The repressive use of force tends to generate hostility and build resistance to the behavior that one seeks to generate. The punishment begins the accuracy of reporting and self-esteem, and focuses our attention on the consequences of the act by forgetting the original intention. Blame and punishment do not elicit the motivations that we would like to inspire the other.
NVC fosters a new relationship to ourselves by helping us to translate our negative thoughts into feelings and needs on which one can act. Our ability to identify our own feelings and needs, and to consider them with empathy can free ourselves from depression. We have then to realize that, in any circumstances, we always have a choice. As we learn to focus on what is close to our heart rather than our failures or those of others, NVC gives us the means and clarity necessary to maintain a calmer state of mind. Finally, professional psychological counseling or psychotherapy may also use NVC to establish a genuine and reciprocal relationship with their patients.
The usual compliments often take the form of judgments, as favorable as they are, and are sometimes spoken to influence the behavior of others. NVC invites us to share what we appreciate, just for fun. We state:
– 1) the action that has contributed to our well-being;
– 2) the particular need we felt and that was satisfied;
– 3) the feeling of contentment born of the satisfaction.
“When you took the time to suck me until the end and you’ve swallowed my cum, I felt fully satisfied because I needed to feel totally desirable, so I flat in a nirvana like Kurt Cobain . “
When we receive a thank this way, we can accommodate without experiencing feelings of superiority and without false modesty, we rejoice with the person offering her gratitude.
For going further
To learn more about this concept, I advise you: Words are windows (or they are the walls) and Healing: stress, anxiety and depression without drugs or psychoanalysis.