Compassionate Communication (NVC, nonviolent communication) a brief summary of my understanding of the work of Marshall Rosenberg, PhD.
We all have the same set of needs/values.
Every person's needs matter equally.
We are the only one that can determine whether or not these needs are fulfilled. We perceive this only for ourselves. You can connect with your own needs and what you value most at any moment. It is surprisingly soothing sometimes to say to yourself, “I really value support” or “I really need understanding” This is called self empathy.
We use different strategies to get these needs met. We are born with just a few strategies like crying and cooing. Over time we learn and try new strategies. We tend to keep trying the ones that work for us. When we are in conflict, it is strategies or methods that cause the conflict. When we can discover the needs that are underlying the strategies, then we can find other strategies that work for everyone. Some examples would be that some people yell in an attempt to be heard, some use their bodies to intimidate others to attempt to get respect, some go to a movie for leisure, some soak in the tub for leisure. What we all share is the desire to be heard, be respected, have some leisure time. When we keep the conversation on that common ground, we are able to get past judging people based on their strategies.
Our feelings are the result of whether or not our needs are met. When we pause and think about what we are feeling, they can point to a need. This allows us to either empathize with not having the need met or make a request to work together to address the need, or celebrate with the needs that are met.
We have a better chance of connecting with our own needs and the needs of others when we differentiate our judging thoughts from what we can objectively observe. For instance we could say, “you always leave the drawers open in the kitchen after you get something and I end up walking into them and hurting myself. It’s like you’re trying to hurt me every time I go in the kitchen.” Or using strictly observation language, we could say, “this morning I walked into the kitchen and walked into the open drawer. I’d like to have more order and safety so I don’t get hurt again.”
We also have an opportunity to give gratitude when we contribute to each other needs. Using the language of needs allows us to be specific about what the contribution was. We could say, “when you brought home flowers yesterday, I felt happy because I value beauty, love, and consideration.” Another example might be, “when you put down your phone when I was telling you about my day, that met my need for support, respect, connection, and understanding.”
Resources to look into
www.Cnvc.org - Books, CDs webinars and other resources are available
http://www.houstonnvc.org/ -workshops, practice groups and other resources available in Houston, TX. Lead by certified trainer Bren Hardt and others.
www.radicalcompassion.com – Jim and Jory Manske provide various NVC resources