Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a way of speaking that facilitates the flow of communication needed to exchange information and resolve differences peacefully. It helps us identify our shared needs, encourages us to use language that increases goodwill, and avoid language that contributes to resentment or lowers self-esteem.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a process developed by Marshall Rosenberg. It is a way to communicate with greater compassion and clarity. It focuses on two things: honest self-expression — exposing what matters to oneself in a way that's likely to inspire compassion in others, and empathy — listening with deep compassion.

One central tenet of nonviolent communication (also called "compassionate communication") is that everything a human being does (whether benign or hurtful) is an attempt to meet their human needs. NVC postulates that conflict between individuals or groups is a result of miscommunication about these needs, often because of coercive language or manipulative language (e.g., inducing fear, guilt, shame, praise, blame, duty, obligation, punishment, or reward).

One aim of NVC is to create a situation in which everyone's needs are met. The reasoning is that from a state of mutual understanding and compassion, new strategies will be generated that meet at least some needs of everyone.

NVC advocates that in order to understand each other, the parties express themselves in objective and neutral terms (talking about their factual observations, feelings and needs) rather than in judgmental terms (such as good versus bad, right versus wrong, or fair versus unfair). Formal NVC self-expression follows four steps: making neutral observations (distinguished from interpretations/evaluations e.g. "I see that you are wearing a hat while standing in this building."), expressing feelings (emotions separate from reasons and interpretation e.g. "I am feeling puzzled"), expressing needs (deep motives e.g. "I have a need to learn about other people's motives for doing what they do") and making requests (clear, concrete, feasible and without an explicit or implicit demand e.g. "Please share with me, if you are willing, your reasons for wearing the hat in this building."). Practicing NVC means that one listens carefully and patiently to others, even when speaker and listener are in conflict. The listener may show empathy for the speaker by responding with reworded versions of the speaker's own statements ("I hear you saying that....") and attempting to recognize the needs motivating the speaker's words ("It sounds like you need....").

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