Nonviolent communication is an approach to nonviolent living created by psychologist and mediator Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s. It’s goal is to reduce violence due to miscommunications; to create interpersonal harmony and cooperation.

It is centered on the belief that all humans can show compassion and empathy. We are only violent when we don’t know how to recognize and meet each other’s needs. All human behavior is due to attempts to meet human needs. In order to practice nonviolent communication, we practice sharing needs, thoughts, feelings, and requests. We work together to meet each others needs. We try to understand each other. It can help improve and mediate our relationships with ourselves and others.

Here is an overview of the basic concepts of nonviolent communication:

  • Assumptions
    • All human beings share the same needs
    • Our world offers sufficient resources for meeting everyone’s basic needs
    • All actions are attempts to meet needs
    • Feelings point to needs being met or unmet
    • All human beings have the capacity for compassion
    • Human beings enjoy giving
    • Human beings meet needs through interdependent relationships
    • Human beings change
    • Choice is internal
    • The most direct path to peace is through self-connection
  • Intentions
    • Open-hearted living
      • Self-compassion
      • Expressing from the heart
      • Receiving with compassion
      • Prioritizing connection
      • Moving beyond “right” and “wrong” to using needs-based assessments
    • Choice, responsibility, peace
      • Taking responsibility for our feelings
      • Taking responsibility for our actions
      • Living in peace with unmet needs
      • Increasing capacity for meeting needs
      • Increasing capacity for meeting the present moment
    • Sharing power (partnership)
      • Caring equally for everyone’s needs
      • Using force minimally and to protect rather than to educate, punish, or get what we want without agreement
  • Communication that Blocks Compassion
    • Moralistic judgments imply wrongness or badness on people who don’t do as we wish. These include blame, insults, labels, criticisms, and comparisons. Our attnetion is focused on what’s wrong with others rather than expressing what needs aren’t being met.
    • Demands that threaten listeners with blame or punishment if they don’t comply
    • Denial of responsibility. We deny responsibility for our actions when we attribute them to impersonal forces, saying “I had to”. Examples: personal or psychological history, actions of others, authority, pressure, policy, rules, social constructs
    • Making comparisons between people
    • “Deserving”: believing that certain actions deserve reward and others deserve punishment
  • Four Components
    • Observation: Sharing what we see, hear, touch, noticed. The facts without evaluation or generalizations.
    • Feelings: Being vulnerable and sharing our feelings, whether we feel our needs are met or unmet
    • Needs: Sharing our needs
    • Request: Request for a specific action without demand
  • Three Modes
    • Self-empathy
      • Connect with what’s going on insude ourselves without blame. Notice our thoughts, feelings, and needs.
    • Receiving empathetically
      • Connecting with what’s alive in the other person and what would make life wonderful for them. We understand their heart, beauty and energy. Emptying our mind and listening with our whole being.
    • Expressing honestly
      • Express our observations, feelings, needs, and requests.

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