Have you ever thought of the practice of labeling or criticizing yourself – or others – as a violent act? I hadn’t, until I was introduced to Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication method (NVC for short.)
Check this out:
“If “violent” means acting in ways that result in harm, then much of how we communicate — with moralistic judgments, evaluations, criticisms, demands, coercion, or labels of “right” versus “wrong” — could indeed be called violent.
Unaware of the impact, we judge, label, criticize, command, demand, threaten, blame, accuse and ridicule. Speaking and thinking in these ways often leads to inner wounds, which in turn often evolve into depression, anger or physical violence.” (“Violent” vs “Nonviolent” Communication. Retrieved from http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/aboutnvc/nonviolent_communication.htm)
Reading this quote, I can immediately think of five examples of how I’ve offered “violent communication” to others in the last week, and probably ten to myself just today.
The NVC model aims to foster compassionate giving and receiving, and does so by focusing on empathetically listening for and honestly expressing observations, feelings, needs, requests.
I think of NVC as speaking from our hearts instead of our minds. My mind is the one desperately trying to create order out of (perceived) chaos by labeling, judging and evaluating all the time. This is just a smokescreen. My heart has a much clearer truth: I feel scared and I need safety. Or I feel angry and I need to be seen.
This is, of course, a much more vulnerable and intimate way of speaking than “you’re wrong!,” and it can feel a little scary to even think about adopting it. What I like about it is that you can learn this for yourself and change the way you speak to yourself…and then it becomes so much easier to communicate with others.
If you are interested in learning more, please visit any of the resources listed below to get started. (If you have any to suggest, leave a comment and let us know)
An extensive collection of resources from PuddleDancer Press, including materials, articles, overviews, quotes, and a long booklist.
Collection of resources (including worldwide training opportunities) on NVC. There is an opportunity to register to the site to receive free articles. They also have a collection of NVC videos on YouTube that are worth checking out.
“Miracles can happen when we can keep our consciousness away from analyzing and classifying one another.” – Marshall Rosenberg, creator of Nonviolent Communication
LaShelle Lowe-Chardé’s wonderful site is a treasure trove of practical NVC application. I’ve been subscribed to her “Connection Gem of the Week” for several years now and find them invaluable.
Ian Peatey’s collection of NVC resources, including links to various sites, and his own blog. I particularly enjoyed this article from him, showing NVC in action.
The UK’s center for NVC. The link above goes directly to their resources page.
A therapist’s collection of blog posts, with many focused on NVC. The link above filters on NVC only, but I’ve found her whole blog to be quite valuable.