Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Advising: “I think you should … “ “How come you didn’t … ?” One-upping: “That’s nothing; wait’ll you hear what happened to me.” Educating: “This could turn into a very positive experience for you if you just … “ Consoling: “It wasn’t your fault; you did the best you could.” Story-telling: “That reminds me of the time … “ Shutting down: “Cheer up. Don’t feel so bad.” Sympathizing: “Oh, you poor thing … “ Interrogating: “When did this begin?” Explaining: “I would have called but … “ Correcting: “That’s not how it happened.

allows our natural compassion to flourish. It guides us to reframe the way we express ourselves and listen to others by focusing our consciousness on four areas: what we are observing, feeling, and needing, and what we are requesting to enrich our lives. NVC fosters deep listening, respect, and empathy and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart.

All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently those people deserve to be punished.

Analyses of others are actually expressions of our own needs and values.

appreciation expressed in this form reveals little of what’s going on in the speaker;

As we’ve seen, all criticism, attack, insults, and judgments vanish when we focus attention on hearing the feelings and needs behind a message. The more we practice in this way, the more we realize a simple truth: behind all those messages we’ve allowed ourselves to be intimidated by are just individuals with unmet needs appealing to us to contribute to their well-being. When we receive messages with this awareness, we never feel dehumanized by what others have to say to us. We only feel dehumanized when we get trapped in derogatory images of other people or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves. As

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.

Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger.

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. For as you judge others, so you will yourselves be judged… —Holy Bible, Matthew 7:1

focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed rather than on diagnosing and judging,

However, what lingered in my mind was that one person’s dissatisfaction. We tend to notice what’s wrong rather than what’s right.

I define judgments—both positive and negative—as life-alienating communication.

In this stage, which I refer to as emotional slavery, we believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy. If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible and compelled to do something about it. This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.

it establishes the speaker as someone who sits in judgment.

Let’s shine the light of consciousness on places where we can hope to find what we are seeking.

My theory is that we get depressed because we’re not getting what we want, and we’re not getting what we want because we have never been taught to get what we want. Instead, we’ve been taught to be good little boys and girls and good mothers and fathers. If we’re going to be one of those good things, better get used to being depressed. Depression is the reward we get for being “good.” But, if you want to feel better, I’d like you to clarify what you would like people to do to make life more wonderful for you.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

peace cannot be built on the foundations of fear.

recipients of such praise do work harder, but only initially. Once they sense the manipulation behind the appreciation, their productivity drops.

The language of wrongness, should, and have to is perfectly suited for this purpose: the more people are trained to think in terms of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness and badness, the more they are being trained to look outside themselves—to outside authorities—for the definition of what constitutes right, wrong, good, and bad. When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.

There is a story of a man on all fours under a street lamp, searching for something. A policeman passing by asked what he was doing. “Looking for my car keys,” replied the man, who appeared slightly drunk. “Did you drop them here?” inquired the officer. “No,” answered the man, “I dropped them in the alley.” Seeing the policeman’s baffled expression, the man hastened to explain, “But the light is much better here.

there is considerably less violence in cultures where people think in terms of human needs than in cultures where people label one another as “good” or “bad” and believe that the “bad” ones deserve to be punished. In

The Sufi poet Rumi once wrote, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

This world is what we have made of it. If it is ruthless today it is because we have made it ruthless by our attitudes. If we change ourselves we can change the world, and changing ourselves begins with changing our language and methods of communication. I highly recommend reading this book and applying the Nonviolent Communication process it teaches. It is a significant first step toward changing our communication and creating a compassionate world. –Arun Gandhi

We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave, think, and feel.

We only feel dehumanized when we get trapped in the derogatory images of other people or thoughts of wrongness about ourselves. As author and mythologist Joseph Campbell suggested, "'What will they think of me?' must be put aside for bliss." We begin to feel this bliss when messages previously experienced as critical or blaming begin to be seen for the gifts they are: opportunities to give to people who are in pain.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.

What some of us call lazy some call tired or easy-going, what some of us call stupid some just call a different knowing, so I’ve come to the conclusion, it will save us all confusion if we don’t mix up what we can see with what is our opinion. Because you may, I want to say also; I know that’s only my opinion. —Ruth Bebermeyer

When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.