Non-Violent Communication or ‘Compassionate Communication’ Enhances Collaborative Problem Solving
To start with, The Center for Nonviolent Communication’s (NVC) purpose is to find and support what is alive in one’s self and someone else. A quality connection awakens compassion and the desire to contribute to another person’s well being or joy in being alive. There is genuine interest in responding to what the other person is experiencing and needs in a given situation. There is a desire to invite the other person to respond to one’s own experience and need. In an NVC conversation, one is either making a feeling, observation, need or request known or giving empathy to understand what the other person is experiencing. Words of criticism, blame, shame and other hurtful comments are regarded as tragic expressions of need(s).
Observations are based on objective details free of evaluations: “You did a nice job mowing the lawn” (evaluative). The mowed lawn looks evenly cut and there is no cut grass on the sidewalk (objective). Express feelings not non-feelings. I feel like a failure (non-feeling. What is a failure?). I feel discouraged and frustrated (true feelings). Feelings are either life uncomfortable or comfortable.
Needs sustain life and are an expression of what is alive in a person. There are different types of needs: physical sustenance, personal values and desires. It takes work, sometimes, to know what one needs in a given situation. It takes courage to let another person know what you need. It takes empathy and patience to understand what another person needs. By connecting at a need level, the opportunity for acceptance and mutual responsiveness is made possible.
Requests are clearly, positively stated and without demand an expression of what would contribute to an unmet need:
“I’m tired tonight because it was a hard day at work for me. I need some rest. Would you be willing to watch what I want on TV?”
I believe NVC is valuable compliment to CPS because its purpose is not to control or change but to connect and relate. I recognize the importance of getting the needs of both parties out on the table and inviting responses to fulfill the needs. NVC really works when the other person realizes the purpose of the communication is to connect and respond not to change or manipulate. CPS may be a little more purposefully in ‘drilling down’ to problem triggers or situations, but both have the character of building relationship and mutual trust to find what works or fulfills unmet needs. NVC is not something one just reads in a book and does. It takes practice.
A website to help a person started with NVC: