Nonviolent Communication

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Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a process developed by Marshall Rosenberg and others which people use to communicate with greater compassion and clarity.[1] 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. Formal NVC self-expression includes four elements: observations (distinguished from interpretations/evaluations), feelings (emotions separate from thoughts), needs (deep motives) and requests (clear, present, doable and without demand). [2]

Those who use nonviolent communication (also called "compassionate communication") describe all actions as motivated by an attempt to meet human needs. However, in meeting those needs, they seek to avoid the use of coercion (e.g., inducing fear, guilt, shame, praise, blame, duty, obligation, punishment, or reward). The goal of NVC is to get one's own needs met while also meeting others' needs. A key principle of nonviolent communication that supports this is the capacity to express oneself without use of good/bad, right/wrong judgment, hence the emphasis on expressing feelings and needs, instead of criticisms or judgments.


[edit] Definition

Rosenberg gave the following definition of nonviolent communication at Lausanne, Switzerland, in September, 2003:

"Language, thoughts, communication skills and means of influence that serve my desire to do three things:
  • to liberate myself from cultural learning that is in conflict with how I want to live my life.
  • to empower myself to connect with myself and others in a way that makes compassionate giving natural.
  • to empower myself to create structures that support compassionate giving."

[edit] Focuses

In NVC, priority is given to creating a high quality of connection between people, and to oneself. It is observed that without connection, effective communication cannot occur.

Maintaining a focus on needs is a central premise. Needs, as the term is used in NVC, are underlying motivations that are universal, in that we all experience the same needs, even if at different times and to different degrees. Thus, needs serve as a basis for understanding each other's motivations at a level at which it is easy to be sympathetic to those motivations. Needs are distinguished from strategies, which are specific plans to try to meet needs. If people interact only with an awareness of strategies, it is easy for people's strategies to come into conflict. Operating from an awareness of needs increases flexibility, insofar as there are typically many strategies that could lead to a given need being met. NVC practitioners also tend to find that it can be deeply satisfying to be aware of needs; perhaps this is because needs offer meaning.

Ultimately, the various processes and attitudes suggested by NVC are strategies designed to "serve life" — to increase the joy and well-being of all. Quality connections and a focus on meeting everyone's needs serve these ends.

[edit] OFNR process model

The NVC model has three or four steps depending on the mode of use.

  1. Observation
  2. Feelings
  3. Needs
  4. Request (optional, depending on mode)

The two modes of use of the NVC model are

  1. empathy, including both self-empathy, and empathy for another, and
  2. honest self-expression, including "please" (request) and "thank you" (gratitude)

[edit] OFNR model in more detail

The four steps, when used in "self-expression" mode, work like this:

  1. To observe without evaluation, judgment, or analysis,
  2. To express feelings which these observations evoke,
  3. To express needs connected with these feelings,
  4. (optional) To make a specific request of another person to help meet an unmet need, and to enrich life of everyone involved. Essential in this is that the other person is to be left free to honour or decline the request.

In this recipe, offering an observation serves to give the listener a reference as to the subject. Offering a feeling (uncontaminated by interpretation and blame) tends to increase connection. Expressing needs, either met or unmet, provides connection and meaning. Finally, a request offers clarity as to what the speaker wants.

Demands (for which there is only one acceptable response) do not meet the recipient's need for autonomy and tend to produce either submission or rebellion. Typically, neither of these responses is enjoyable for both parties. Both responses foster resentment and strain the relationship. In contrast, it is felt that the consistent use of requests (for which no answer will trigger retaliation of any kind) leads to people experiencing the joy of giving. People will often say "yes" to a request out of the desire to contribute to one another, which NVC practitioners maintain is a stronger and more universal motivation than is commonly recognized.

If a request yields a "no," the suggestion is to interpret that as information that a need exists that the requester was not aware of and may want to investigate. The need that originally motivated the request is more likely to be met through a strategy that respects all needs.

[edit] Empathy

Empathy, as practiced in NVC, is sometimes called "deep listening". It involves the listener connecting with the essential core of an individual's experience and offering a kindly energy of presence. The empathy process offered by NVC is often referred to as "giving empathy." It is more accurately a procedure that supports the development of true empathy.

This process involves listening for, and sometimes guiding the other person towards describing:

  1. Observations as to what happened,
  2. Feelings evoked, sometimes guessing what feelings might be, if the other is (for example) in blame mode,
  3. Needs both met and unmet, although the unmet needs are most likely to be provoking the feelings involved

(Note: in Empathy mode, the "Request" step for the OFNR model is omitted.)

The empathy process for another may be conducted out loud, as an interaction with that person, or silently, as an inner approach to awareness of that person's experience.

Empathy brings about understanding of the needs of the one "receiving" empathy, and also relieves emotional charge. Emotional charge is often uncomfortable and is a barrier to being able to hear others clearly and respond in a flexible fashion. Thus, empathy may be used to relieve distress and increase understanding and readiness for hearing.

[edit] Formal vs. colloquial

When using NVC to communicate, one may use either formal or colloquial NVC. In formal NVC, one explicitly uses the steps of the processes for empathy and honest self-expression, and may overtly use words such as "feel" and "need." This may be well-received and effective, or may be experienced as odd and stilted. As an alternative, one may use colloquial or "street" NVC, in which the language is naturalized and may be considered NVC regardless of form so long as it springs from an awareness of needs and an intention to connect.

Formal NVC is primarily used in teaching NVC and among NVC practitioners. Mastering formal NVC is recommended as a prerequisite to full effectiveness in speaking colloquial NVC.

[edit] Nonviolence

The name "nonviolent communication" refers to Mohandas Gandhi's philosophy of ahimsa or nonviolence. However, unlike Gandhi, Rosenberg endorses the use of protective force—the use of force to keep injury from occurring, so long as it is not punitive, i.e., force applied with the intention to punish or harm someone for a past deed. Rosenberg says the desire to punish and the use of punitive measures only exist in cultures that have moralistic good/evil worldviews. He points out that anthropologists have discovered cultures in many many parts of the world in which the idea of someone being "bad" makes no sense. He says such cultures tend to be peaceful and do not rely on punitive force to correct maladaptive or harmful behaviors. One example of such a culture is the Semai people in Malaysia.

[edit] Programs

Rosenberg has used the concept of nonviolent communication in peace programs in conflict zones including Rwanda, Burundi, Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, the Middle East, Serbia, Croatia, and Ireland. The approach also has been used in projects of Restorative Justice; bringing prisoners, victims of crime, police and other interested parties together for healing and reconciliation. NVC is recognized by the government of Israel and several NVC training schools have been founded there.[3] The theory has much in common with concepts used in mediation and conflict resolution and is used by some mediators in their work.

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ What is NVC?
  2. ^ Nonviolent Communication
  3. ^ Rosenberg (September 1 2003). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values. Puddledancer Press. ISBN 1892005034. 

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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