Note: In the last few blogs, I’ve been taking excerpts from the introduction to my book Urban Empathy where I discuss superheroes, NYC and nonviolence. If you missed those posts, you can read the first in that series here. Today and in my next blog, I’ll be sharing highlights from the aftermatter of Urban Empathy, where I explore how Nonviolent Communication works, with examples. I hope you are enjoying this special series!
The basic premise of Nonviolent Communication is that, as human beings, we all desire to see our needs met and that the most satisfying and peaceful way to do so is by holding everyone’s needs with care and finding “win-win” solutions. By listening beneath opinions, thoughts and judgments for common, shared values and needs, connection and understanding can be restored. Once there is understanding and connection, strategies organically evolve.
The four, basic steps in practicing Nonviolent Communication include:
- Making an observation free of evaluation: “When I hear you say or do X…” OR “When you see or hear X…”
- Identifying what you (and/or the other person) is feeling, free of judgment: “I feel sad/happy/disappointed/afraid/excited…” etc OR “Do you feel…”
- Connecting with the core values or needs that are up, such as peace, order, communication, choice, etc, free of strategies: “I have a need for ____ ” OR ‘Are you needing ___?”
- Making a request or offer, free of demand: “I would be willing to _____” OR “Would you be willing to ___?”
In making requests, we often start with a “connection” request to find out what the other person is hearing or feeling. We then may make an “action” request about a particular strategy we might wish to see happen. We want the action request to be clear, positive, and doable.
NVC offers a road map for authenticity and connection. It is not simply about following steps, though, like reading instructions on a cooking packet and just adding water. More than just a communication technique, Nonviolent Communication can be seen as a practice in mindfulness; it is a way to remind us about our intentions, support awareness, and put into practice a consciousness of loving kindness and compassion.