(Originally posted on Peaceworks blog, 2/14/10)
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m posting this YouTube video which demonstrates how to express negative feelings to our loved ones in ways that open rather than shut down communication.
Nonviolent communication, or NVC, is a method of communicating which was pioneered by Marshall Rosenberg, who founded the Center For Nonviolent Communication. (This video was produced by Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (@BayNVC on Twitter).) If you want to learn more, I highly recommend the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life which can be purchased from Amazon.com.
The concepts of Nonviolent Communication ( NVC) are easy to grasp, and I encourage everyone to become familiar with them. The techniques of NVC help us to communicate on a deeper level, getting to the level of feelings and needs rather than principles and positions. The basic principle is to focus on what is sometimes referred to as “I” statements, and to formulate our requests into an explanation that includes our observations, feelings, needs, and then requests. Each of these elements takes some simple training to understand. It’s easy to grasp the theory, but sometimes much harder to overcome old habits to put the new ways into practice!
For me personally, putting the concepts of communication into practice is the larger challenge. It requires that we abandon old, negative ways of relating and that we adopt new ways of communicating that are more positive. I re-read this book at least once per year, and I often share it with clients. It’s an easy book to read, has simple charts that help one put the new principles into practice immediately, and many of my clients report that it helped them greatly.