Non Violent Communication
I want to share with you the concept of “Non-Violent Communication” created by the psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the seventies. It is a method of conflict resolution, but, if practiced daily, it can become even more, a sort of life style and an effective way to tackle whole human relationships.
The main goal of “Non Violent Communication” is to view the human being as a creature of needs. Every behaviour, act, and word , every communication is an express of a need. So is criticism, anger speeches, violent words and annoying demands. Instead of taking criticism personally, or feeling guilty because someone told you that you are a bad friend or a selfish person, just listen genuinely to the need he is trying to express instead of blaming yourself or finding fake ways to be approved.
With Non-violent Communication, there is no judgment, no “right” or “wrong”, no rewards or punishments, but only empathy, pleasure of giving and genuine expression of needs. OK, here are some example to make it more concrete.
A: If you really loved me, you would have stayed with me this evening ! (this is violent communication, based on right/wrong, judgment and making the other guilty)
B: Of course I love you! You never understand me! (same here, this is violent communication with a judgement and generalization..you can guess that the dialogue will soon come out with conflict and arguments)
Marshall suggests B to reply by “Are you feeling frustrated because your need of feeling connection this evening has not been met ?” (of course this is not subtle and it is just to emphasise the main elements in Non Violent Communication but you can notice that there is a big focus on the feelings and the needs of the other, and there is no mention of “I” to avoid any self blame or self pressure. It’s only about the other person and HER needs.)
You may ask why B does not reply nicely “Ok you are right, I am canceling my plans for tonight and staying with you my dear. Marshall says that this is OK if it is genuine and coming from B’s realneed to stay with A.
If B replies that way, because he is afraid of the “punishment” by A, he wants to avoid the conflict or because he is obsessed by being approved then the situation will be very frustrating for him. A will pay for that sooner or later since B will remind him of this “favor” and will make him feel guilty (“remember the other night I canceled my plans and you don’t want to do the same now that I ask you for”)
Therefore Non Violent communication is NOT at all about being nice and smiling, but about being GENUINE and listening to the needs, especially YOURS.
Here is an interesting link to an extract of an interview with Marshall Rosenberg