Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nonviolent Communication Basics

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) allows us to stay in tune with compassion in a practical way.

When we play the blame game, criticize others, use put downs and power over tactics we are out of tune with compassion. The NVC process helps us to stay in tune with compassion and empowers us to manifest love, empathy and understanding in our lives and in our world.

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is based on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication model. Rosenberg is the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication and is an international peacemaker.

Some people know Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as giraffe language. NVC, or giraffe language, focuses on expressing what is in the heart (feelings and needs) and hearing what is in the heart. For this reason is also known as the “Language of the Heart” or “Giraffe language.” The idea is that by staying in touch with what is in the heart we are able to stay connected to that which serves life. The giraffe has the second largest heart of all the land mammals. A giraffe’s heart is about 3 feet long and weighs about 24 pounds.

The first step in NVC (giraffe language) involves stating the facts (an observation) without making an evaluation (moralistic judgment, diagnosis, etc.). The cardinal giraffe rule is: “Do not judge.” So many times we diagnose others and their behavior instead of making an observation. For instance, an evaluation might sound like, “You never wash the dishes and are lazy.”

In NVC we might say, “I noticed that you did not wash the stack of dishes today.”

The second step involves sharing our feelings without mixing in thoughts. We would say, “I feel frustrated.

The third step involves sharing your needs. Here we would follow the feeling expressed above with a need. We accept responsibility for our feelings and don’t blame others for our feelings. For instance we might say, “I feel frustrated because I need cooperation.”

The fourth step involves making a specific request that will meet your need. We can say, “Would you be willing to wash the dishes within the next hour?

Giraffes also focus on listening to others feelings and needs by fishing for their needs. This can be done by making an observation of what might be stimulating an unpleasant feeling in the person (step one). But many times the observation can be dropped and we can just simply ask the question, “Are you feeling frustrated because you need cooperation?” (steps two and three)

Then a suggestion can be made to try to meet the need. (step four) This may sound like, "How about we work together to put the dishes away after dinner?"

To get more information on nonviolent communication click here.


Zhenya Delate said...

Hi - thanks for this neat summary on NVC. I've been hearing a lot about it from some friends, and I feel like it is one of the keys (or at least one of the steps) to manifesting lasting peace on the earth. I recently went through a big ordeal when I wanted to break up with some business partners that were not working out for me despite multiple attempts to make it work (stating facts, sharing needs, etc.). They had no clue about NVC and I feel that our negotiations would have been more calm and fulfilling for all had they even had a concept.

Eddie Zacapa said...

Zhenya - I'm not sure when you posted this comment but I wanted to thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. It is encouraging to hear others desire to practice tools like NVC to bring more peace to our world.