We’re advocates of lifelong growth, and something we are always interested in learning about is how to communicate better. Recently, we came across a simple communication tool that helps people express a need without contempt or defensiveness toward someone else (which inevitably leads to an argument.)
The approach is praised for its wide-ranging applications: in business, education, parenting and restorative justice. It’s called non-violent communication or NVC, developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg and grounded in Ghandi’s principles of non-violence. Also referred to as compassionate communication or life language, NVC has a way of simplifying something that most of us can’t seem do to right: expressing our needs without offending others.
Here’s the NVC framework:
When You DO _________________________, [Observation of another’s action/behavior]
I FEEL_______________________________. [Feeling]
And I NEED____________________________. [Need]
My REQUEST is__________________________. [Request]
In example format, here’s how it plays out. Instead of…
You never pick up your dirty clothes from off the floor!
…which feels accusatory, try the NVC approach:
I found dirty clothes on the floor of the bedroom. I feel frustrated, because I need an orderly living space. Would you be willing to put your clothes in the in the hamper when you take them off?
Observation, feeling, need, request. It’s effective because it’s gentle (yet direct,) empathic (yet honest.)
NVC is the perfect tool to practice for seven minutes: Think about a time expressing a need led to an argument because you approached it in the wrong way. Can you go back in your mind and try it differently through NVC? Or, have you been avoiding expressing a need because you’re not sure how to go about it? The more you practice NVC, the more you’ll begin to notice that all four of the framework’s components can be present to you in real time without even referring back to the tool.
As Covid continues to keep much of the country under lockdown, we thought this would be a great insight for fostering compassionate conversations: within our households, communities, and on social media + digital forums.