My Personal Understanding of Nonviolent
understanding of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is that NVC is a process as
well as a tool. According to Marshall B. Rosenberg, who developed NVC, the best
way to understand that which is alive in me is to be in touch with my feelings
and aware of my needs. As I see it, the process of connecting with feelings and
needs can be compared to meditating. The act of getting in touch with my
feelings and needs puts me in a state of mind in which I am a silent witness to
this very process. Furthermore, as I am in touch with my feelings and needs, I
begin to understand that my thoughts and emotions do not dictate who I am as a
human being and that there is no need for me to identify myself with them.I believe that the NVC process allows me to
live life in a meditative state of mind.
The Philosophy behind Nonviolent Communication
to the philosophy of NVC the driving force behind people’s actions is the
desire to meet basic needs. Within this framework it is believed that people
wish to contribute to other people’s needs being met as long as it doesn’t take
place under pressure or threatening circumstances.
The Body’s Signal System
are a way for the body to let us know whether our needs have been met or not.
We have the ability to fully understand one another because we all share the
same human needs. When we are tired the body’s signal system makes us feel
sleepy. When we are hungry the body’s signal system lets us know that it needs
to replenish nourishment and so on. This is a simple way to ensure our survival
and well being. A major difficulty is that so many of us do not understand how
our signal systems function and therefore can’t properly assess the need behind
is a secondary feeling as it signals an unidentified need.We become disconnected from our needs because
our thoughts are preoccupied with people around us and inadvertently lose
connection with ourselves. We perceive a person or a situation as the root
cause of our anger and therefore direct our anger and frustration outward. The
problem is not being angry the problem is how we choose to handle our anger.
One way of handling anger is to acknowledge the sensation of anger as an unidentified
need and empathize with ourselves in order to reconnect. Guilt and shame belong
to the same category as anger, however feelings of guilt and shame are usually
turned inward and we punish ourselves instead. When guilt and shame are handled
in this way for a long time we become depressed.
The Four Components of Nonviolent Communication
interpret and assess our environment we inadvertently form ideas and opinions
about our environment, M. Rosenberg calls it behaving like a jackal, and we end
up losing touch with ourselves. If threats or demands are added to this process
any hope of reconnecting to ourselves will be lost. When we evaluate our
environment whether that is a person or a place the intention according to NVC
is to be understood, or that there is a desire to connect with others however
misleading that may be.
NVC components that will facilitate a connection are:
An observation looks at facts; what you
see, what you hear, void of opinion or judgment.An observable fact can be videotaped or
recorded. To “speak jackal” is to allow for interpretations, evaluations,
judgments, and assumptions which only disconnect us from ourselves and each
other and is the cause of many conflicts.
A feeling is a sensation elicited by the
body’s signal system. The majority of the population confuses thoughts with
feelings. For example, many of us might say “I don’t feel that you listen to
me”. This is a notion and behind the notion might be a feeling of irritation or
sadness. The pitfall is to express thoughts, notions, or ideas as feelings.
A basic need is shared by everyone. What
differentiate us from each other are the strategies used in order to meet our
needs. A strategy is a way to satisfy a need. However, a strategy can lead to
conflict, especially when we are unyielding of a preferred strategy.
A present request should entail the
who receives the request should be able to adhere to the request here and now.
The request is not meant to be met from here on end.
request should be stated in such a way so that a person on the receiving end
can say no to the request. If you get annoyed when someone says no to what you
believe is a request then that is a sure sign that the request was a demand
rather than a present request.
important to be aware of our intentions.
I mean an ability to understand another human being’s feelings and needs and
that you respect and understand what they are experiencing. There is no need
for words here as the main quality is to stay present as you go with the flow.
This means that you set aside your own thoughts, feelings, and needs while you
are in the present. As you show empathy by listening empathically when someone
is affected by secondary feelings such as anger, guilt, or shame you may help
ease the negative state of mind for that person.
don’t empathize with yourself you are no longer in connection with life itself,
when you do empathize with self you reconnect with life energy. In order to
reconnect with life energy I use the four components described earlier, but I
also acknowledge that I might have to delve in my own thoughts for a while, a
situation I call the “Jackal Café”.At
the “Jackal Café” I allow myself to evaluate and judge thoughts about myself or
someone else in order to begin to understand the needs underlying them. Once I
am done judging and evaluating I ask myself the following questions:
- What is
- What need
is not met or what need is threatened?
connect with my need another feeling might emerge, a more subtle feeling.
Usually a feeling of distress will lay behind feelings of shame and guilt, and
perhaps you might sense irritation or sadness behind anger. When you begin to
give yourself empathy, that is to connect with self, you will be able to
connect with others as well.
I have the
choice to express my needs and express how another person may contribute to
that need, and I can do so by being honest. I believe that people want to
contribute as long as it is voluntary. When I am aware of my needs I use the
four NVC steps to express myself honestly.
Listen with Compassion
A technique I use in Nonviolent Communication
is to guess a person’s feelings and needs so that the person can begin to
connect with self. This process is necessary in order to help the person see
that you want to help them connect and that you understand what they are
experiencing. When being present by listening empathically is not enough, then
guessing is a good start.
Communication is an excellent tool to help manage conflict. Because the NVC
method helps you become aware of needs as well as the various strategies people
use in order to meet their needs you will be able to help create a
collaborative climate by staying present and listening empathically. Marshall
has explained (which I can confirm) that all conflicts can be eliminated in 20
minutes counting from the time two conflicting parties become aware of each
other’s needs. However, in everyday life, it can be difficult to accomplish as
we tend to get stuck in habitual thinking.