Words are powerful. Non-violent communication
We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we want to be heard. And we’ve all been in situations where we could have done a better job of listening.
I worked with someone with whom communication was challenging, to say the least. I tried all sorts of strategies, I took courses, read books to try to overcome those challenges…all to no avail. (you can follow this journey here) It left me feeling pretty hopeless, actually. I am typically a person who oozes positivity and enthusiasm. This took me for a loop and left me feeling frustrated, ashamed at my own shortcomings, and dejected, frankly.
I didn’t want to let the relationship end without learning something or trying to improve upon my own communication skills. I decided to read this book and take a course with the Center for Nonviolent Communication in the foundations of compassionate communication or non-violent communication (NVC).
History of NVC:
The practice of NVC has its roots in the civil rights movements of the 1960s. Many of the founders of the social justice movements I’ve worked with honor the values of non-violent communication . NVC is a tool that can be used towards the social justice end. The rationale and sentiment behind it seemed like it would naturally jive with my sensibilities.
Practice of NVC:
As a basic premise, NVC supposes that all human have a set of basic needs, beyond physical needs, that include needs such as love, understanding, compassion, purpose, and so on. The first step to fulfilling our needs is to identify them and how they motivate our behaviors. The trick is to do so in a way that carries no judgement or evaluation but that is based on a series of observations and feelings associated with those observations.
Likewise, if we can communicate in such a way as to discover the needs that motivate behaviors in others, we can connect more deeply and in ways that satisfy both parties. Typically, it is the strategy to fulfill our needs that conflicts with other people, but not the need itself. By unpacking what the needs may be, with empathy and non-judgement, there is hope for a mutually agreeable strategy to appear and unfold.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Except that it is much harder to do in practice than it may sound. Non-violent communication requires commitment, time, and vulnerability. I struggled a bit with this method lacking a research base. I also found several suggested ways of communicating clunky or unnatural. That aside…I am eager to learn more and use some of what I learned to improve my skills.
What tools do you bring to the workplace to ensure clear and honest communication?