My wife and I are using the essence of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) more these days.
I learned it 15-20 years ago in Oregon – read books, went to workshops, and also a weekly practice group.
It’s amazing what it does. Situations that could escalate because of poor communication, hurt, and fear, now lead to closer connection and intimacy.
It seems so simple. It is simple when we do it.
THE ESSENCE OF NVC LANGUAGE
What’s the essence of NVC?
It’s been a while since I heard or read anything about it so it’s filtered by time and what I find interesting.
To me, it’s to use some version of “I feel… because…” and to be as sincere as possible.
For me, I find fear under almost anything – anger, frustration, sadness, and so on. So I may say “I feel angry because… and really, I feel fear, I am scared because….”.
Similarly, when I say “because….” I can mention a trigger in the situation, and I may also add what’s really going on which is a painful belief I have or an old emotional issue.
So for me, it often takes the form of: “I feel X because of Y, and it’s really fear because of this painful belief and this old issue from childhood”.
This is not about a specific language or formula. It’s more about being aware of (a) what I feel and (b) some things about why, and then communicating it in whatever way is real and seems helpful in the situation. The “I feel… because…” formula may be a good support at first and in more charged situations, and as we get more used to it, it becomes more organic and we find our own way with it.
This tends to defuse the situation. The other may say “thank you” and share what they feel and what triggered it.
NEEDS AND STRATEGIES
The other essence of NVC for me is to differentiate needs and strategies to meet those needs. We can get overly focused (and obsessed) with a particular strategy without recognizing or exploring other strategies that may work as well or better. We may also not be very aware of what the need is.
So I can first identify my need and then explore a range of strategies to meet that need. That makes it easier for two or more to find strategies that work for both or everyone.
I find that my needs are usually quite essential and universal. At one level, it may be food, water, shelter, rest. And at another level, safety, love, being seen and understood, and so on.
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