Nonviolent Communication

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Jaap de Jonge
Editor, Netherlands

Nonviolent Communication

Somewhat in the same 'league' as Active Listening is the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) method by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. His approach is also being referred to as: "Compassionate Communication" and "Collaborative Communication".

Application of the NVC Method
The NVC model helps to communicate in a respectful yet powerful way with other people, avoiding several traps in communication due to clashing ego's and/or making the other person feel he or she is been treated unfairly or disrespectfully.
That's why NVC is particularly helpful in situations in which a deep understanding and connection with the other party is important, such as (in business) coaching, mentoring, team building, negotiating and conflict resolution.

How does Nonviolent Communication work? The 4 Steps
1. Observe and identify the situation without evaluating or judging. Just a pure, objective, factual observation. For example: "Ms. P. did not finish the task by the time that was agreed". By thus stating (and agreeing on) the situation, a common departure point is established.
2. Identify the feeling inside of yourself. For example: "I notice that I am angry. I know this anger is mine."
3. Identify your need or desire. For example: "I need some time to calm down and see how we can deal with this".
4. Formulate a request. For example: "I would appreciate if next time you could take into account my need to finish tasks at the agreed time".

An optional extra step could be:
5. Obtain feedback about the process. For example: "How are we doing with this conversation?" or "How are we doing resolving this issue?

Nonviolent Communication Principles
1. Each is responsible for his own life.
2. Do not take responsibility for the feelings of others.
3. One cannot force others to feel, think or act the way one wishes.
4. Judging oneself and others often stops honest communication.
5. All people are connected at the level of feelings, basic personality needs, and other levels.

Nonviolent Communication Skills
- Differentiating observation from evaluation, being able to carefully observe what is happening free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us;
- Differentiating feeling from thinking, being able to identify and express internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment;
- Connecting with the universal human needs/values (e.g. sustenance, trust, understanding) in us that are being met or not met in relation to what is happening and how we are feeling; and,
- Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we donít want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving).

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