There are some people in my life who are just great at resolving conflicts. They observe without judgement. They share their feelings. They focus on the issue (not the person). They speak clearly.
These people are applying the concepts of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) — even if they aren’t doing it consciously.
I remember the first time I heard about NVC. At first, the name threw me off. I thought, “I’m not violent, what does this have to do with me?” It turns out, a lot.
NVC offers a simple framework for communication, particularly in tense moments when emotions are in full force. It allows for both compassionate and effective conversations.
The four steps of NVC are:
- Observe without judgement.
- Express how you are feeling without resorting to a thought or opinion.
- State your unmet need without assigning blame.
- Offer a clear request for concrete action.
The NVC model comes together like this:
When I see that (observation) I feel (emotion) because my need for (need) is/is not being met. Would you be willing to (request)?
I was recently on the receiving end of someone who applied NVC during a difficult conversation. Rather than tense up and become defensive, I relaxed my stance and could empathize with their position. I am pretty sure this approach prevented our disagreement from ballooning into something much bigger.
I think this concept is so important, I’ve included a snapshot of this section from our Digital Compassion Guide, which breaks down NVC in a practical and actionable way. Give it a read and think about how this approach might influence your next challenging conversation.
An inside look at this activity from the Digital Compassion Guide:
We also have a handful of Printed Compassion Kits (including an Activity Journal and a beautiful letterpress art print) still available in our shop.
With respect and compassion,
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