About Nonviolent Communication

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Nonviolent Communication is also known as NVC or Compassionate Communication.

NVC advocates radical self-responsibility for what we are experiencing at any given moment. It offers a simple yet effective framework to bring awareness to what we are thinking, saying, doing, and how we are listening, so we can connect and communicate with more clarity and compassion. Rather than judging, blaming, or criticizing we start on neutral common ground to share what’s important to us, and connect on an empathetic level with others by tuning in to what they are wanting and what’s important to them. Integrating NVC tools and principles requires intention and attention, especially to break through and transform habitual ways of thinking and communicating into compassionate connection.

NVC Practices

Using these practices in our everyday relationships and circumstances can help us be in harmony with our values and open our heart to see everyone’s humanity. These practices are not about changing other people. They are about sharing what is true for us and discovering what is true for another. The intention of this process is to arrive at strategies that work for everyone.
NVC focuses on three aspects of awareness and communication:

    1. Self-Empathy: A deep and compassionate awareness of one’s inner-experience.
      To experience self-empathy, identify and connect with your body sensations, feelings/emotions, and needs/values in a particular situation, the objective being to replace old habits of judging, blaming, or criticizing yourself. Try out different feelings and needs words until you discover ones that resonate with you. You may experience a felt sense of relaxation when you have connected with your body, feelings, and needs.
    2. Empathy for Others: Listening compassionately to the feelings and needs of others.  Listen with your whole being and presence; with your attention on what you’re hearing expressed. Relax your body and take your time. Breathe, pause, and trust whatever emerges. Say back to the person what you are hearing them say (reflective listening) without adding your thoughts, ideas, or solutions. Guess (silently or out loud) someone’s feelings and needs (what matters most to them) rather than expressing old habits you might have of judging, correcting, or criticizing. Integrate your guesses within the flow of the conversation. The speaker will most often agree with or clarify your guesses and in doing so will have the experience of being understood. When you maintain a slow pace, you may sense the other person becoming more relaxed and self-connected. At this point, they often are ready move on to strategies, actions, or requests. Or this might be the timing for you to express yourself.
    3. Honest Self-Expression: Expressing oneself authentically by taking responsibility for our own experience. We often avoid sharing our honesty with someone because we fear we’ll offend them or be seen as blaming them. The NVC process guides us to share:
      • What we are observing
      • The feelings/sensations we are experiencing in our bodies
      • What we are wanting or needing (what we care about, what’s important to us)
      • A request we might have to help fulfill our needs

Four Components of NVC

NVC contains four basic components: Observations, Feelings, Needs/Values, and Requests (referred to as OFNR). They are used when empathizing with our self and others, or in sharing our honest self-expression.
The following key distinctions are made when practicing NVC:

    1. Observations are distinct from Evaluations, Judgments, Labels, Analysis, Interpretations. Make neutral statements of what you actually/objectively see or hear; objective facts without subjective filters.
    2. Feelings are distinct from Perceptions, “Victim Verbs.” Express pure emotions and/or body sensations rather than what you think/perceive someone is doing to you. Victim verbs are thoughts disguised as feelings that often contain blame, such as: (I feel) insulted, attacked, blamed, unappreciated, disrespected, ignored, or misunderstood.
    3. Needs/Values are distinct from Strategies, Blame, “Should Thinking.” Needs/Values are considered to be our universal life energy, that which motivates and sustains us. They are intangible, without reference to specific people, actions, or things.
    4. Requests are distinct from Demands that use fear, guilt, shame, manipulation, or reward. Requests are made in the present, and are doable, concrete, specific, and affirmative actions (a “do want,” rather than a “don’t want”).

      Two types of requests:

      Connection requests for reflection of what you just expressed, to see if what you said came across to your listener. For example: “Would you tell me what you’re hearing me say?” And, “How do you feel about what I’ve just said?”

      Action/Solution requests for strategies to meet needs: “Would you bring the groceries in from the car? I could use some help.”

      When making a request, it is important to be willing to hear a “no”. Ask yourself before you make a request if you are attached to a particular outcome or action, because if you are, your request will likely be a demand or expectation in disguise. (Health and Safety issues are the exception.)

*This explanation is from www.groktheworld.com. We use their products and curriculum in our training’s and coaching sessions.

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