A way of thinking, speaking and acting that contributes to mutual connection and cooperation.
Vision and practice
In NVC’s worldview everyone’s needs matter, and conflicts are resolved peacefully. The application of NVC in daily life aims at our ability to enlarge our capacity towards a deeper and mutual understanding of needs, which will promote a respectful dialogue and cooperation.
By using a communication process which strengthens qualities such as honesty and empathy, we are building trust in such a way that it can lead to mutual growth and development.
“Violence (…) is any use of force to coerce people to do things. Violence is also any system that discriminates against people and prevents equal access to resources and justice to all people.” Marshall B. Rosenberg
Short description of the process and model offered by NVC
The first step in the NVC process is making the distinction between observations and judgments and interpretations.
Observing means we describe facts, in other words: that which we observe/see/hear/taste, remember or think. In a conversation, if we mingle what really happens with our respond to it, this can easily lead to misunderstandings. The other person may be triggered and become defensive or offensive.
If we observe and give a clear description of that to which we respond, we increase the likelihood of a common area for dialogue
|He always complains||He said “this meeting is not effective”|
|He’s very generous||He gave me a flower|
Being aware of our feelings and understanding their role in communication is the second step in the NVC process.
Our feelings are signals that require us to focus our attention on what we need.
We may feel calm, happy or proud… which comes to tell us eg. that we want to celebrate a choice we made. Emotions like fear, disappointment and irritation are a signal to draw our attention to important needs.
Some people make a distinction between more ‘positive’ or more ‘negative’ feelings. In Nonviolent Communication, however, all feelings are equal in value, since any feeling draws us to a need that demands our attention.
A vocabulary for feelings will contribute to our self-awareness. Listening to our feelings increases the chance of recognizing our needs and how to deal with them.
At the center of NVC is the awareness of values and needs that enrich our lives.
Needs are to be seen as an inner energy that moves us to act at any time, whether consciously or unconsciously. They have the quality to connect people. It is through needs that we can achieve mutual recognition and understanding.
Most of us are raised in cultures using analytical and static language. Although this can be effective, it also makes us losing the connection with our needs. NVC helps increasing our ability to recognize and express our own needs as well as to adapt to the needs of others.
The various ways by which we try to fulfill our needs may arise to conflict. When our needs are understood, we gain a deeper understanding, which increases the possible outcome of creative solutions.
“If we don’t value our own needs, others may not either.” Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph. D.
The awareness of needs places us in a position of our own strength. If we want to act from this position, it is necessary to be conscious of concrete actions that lead to the fulfillment of these needs. It is therefore essential that we can formulate clear requests.
The focus in the fourth step is to increase collaboration by making clear how and when we want someone to act. Without this clarity, we make others guessing what we need, which can easily lead to misunderstandings.
Two requests in a conversation that can contribute to connection are:
- invite the other person to respond to what you said
- ask them to tell what they have understood from what you said
A request implies we are open to different opinions or wishes, so it is also important to distinguish between a request and a demand. A demand is a ‘question’ posed with a ‘demanding energy ‘, which may give the impression the other person has no choice
Empathy and honesty
NVC emphasizes the value of speaking honestly and empathic listening as the basis for a respectful interaction.
By alternating “speaking honestly” with “empathetic listening” to the experience of the other, we can build a contact which forms an essential basis for dialogue, confidence, motivation and cooperation. The clarification of our various needs is a requirement for being able to create collaboration and solutions, even in the most difficult conflicts.
Some areas where NVC can be of help:
- Understanding of yourself and others
- Evaluate and provide feedback that contributes to growth
- Coping with difficult conversations
- Contribute to communication that increases accountability and inner motivation
- Develop the skills to manage conflict
“Clarity about how communication at any time can serve our life, gives us hope when we want a peaceful world. We, who have created this brochure, experience that being connected to values and needs strengthened us in making good choices and creates relationships we desire. We are greatly inspired by NVC – the combination of simplicity and depth, vision and application. We believe in a daily empathetic approach to bring about a movement of well-being and development. We hope that this content may also be meaningful and inspiring to you.”
The Center for Nonviolent Communication focuses on making the NVC process accessible. It is a non-profit organization founded in 1984 by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.
Scattered across the world you can find both local networks and trainers, as a wealth of experience that shows how NVC can help people to connect with compassion, to share resources and resolve conflicts.