You can listen to the article. If it’s more convenient for you, turn on the podcast.
It happens that the interlocutors do not hear us, refuse to fulfill requests or wishes, and sometimes they completely perceive everything that is said with hostility. This may mean that we use ineffective communication techniques, there is a lot of manipulation, coercion and other forms of verbal violence in our speech.
An approach that helps to correct the situation is called: non-violent (or environmentally friendly) communication.
What is Nonviolent Communication
This is something like a system that American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg invented and described in his book Language of Life in the 1960s. Nonviolent communication (NVC) helps you communicate your thoughts to the interlocutor and get what you need without pressure.
An example of violent communication: “You do not watch your children at all! They run around the apartment and interfere with my work. Stop this mess!”
An example of non-violent communication: “I work from home, and I really need at least relative silence, otherwise I can’t concentrate. I understand that children can be very noisy and mobile, and it is sometimes very difficult to calm them down. But please ask them to be quiet. Thanks”.
Rosenberg believes that nonviolent communication can be practiced with anyone: with partners, children, colleagues, friends, parents, neighbors.
This approach has proven to be very effective – it allows you to develop empathy, avoid conflicts or extinguish them before they develop into something serious. Trainings on NVC are carried out in various companies, and also, for example, for the prevention of domestic violence and the prevention of recidivism in offenders .
Essential Components of Nonviolent Communication
1. Non-judgmental observation
This means that you should monitor the words and behavior of the interlocutor and, instead of hanging labels on him, focus on the facts. You need to try to understand what feelings and needs are behind all this.
- “He is lazy and does not want to study at all!”
- “He does not prepare for seminars and does not pass tests the first time. Perhaps he is not interested in the specialty he receives. Or there are serious difficulties with understanding the material.
2. Definition of emotion
At this step, you need to look into yourself, analyze how you feel , and tell the interlocutor about it:
- “I get angry and offended when you throw things around.”
3. Definition of need
Here you need to understand and formulate what you need:
- “I’m terribly angry that family members don’t clean up after themselves. I really want them to appreciate my work and show that they notice my efforts.”
When a need is identified, it is worth expressing it in a respectful, non-blaming manner and suggesting a way out of the situation:
- “I spend a lot of time and energy cleaning, and I would like you to keep the house in order. Let’s come up with some cleanliness rules that everyone will try to follow.”
How to Practice Nonviolent Communication
Here are a few tricks that will help you build adequate friendly communication and get your way.
1. Say “I-messages”
When we say: “You are always sitting with a prefix” or “You are late again!” We blame the interlocutor. And no one likes to feel guilty. In response to this, a person may begin to defend himself, snap, show aggression. The case will end in a quarrel and resentment, and you will not get what you want. Therefore, it is important to talk about yourself and your feelings, and not about the other person, and start a sentence not with “you” or “you”, but with “I” or “me”. For example:
- “I get upset if you play a lot. I miss you”.
- “I get very angry when someone is late. I don’t like it when plans go wrong.
2. Try to do without evaluation
Nonjudgmental observation is one of the basic principles of NVC. Evaluation is a product of our emotions, cognitive distortions , and negative experiences, and cannot be objective and does not help with communication.
You should not start communication from such positions:
- “Our neighbors are inadequate cattle who do not respect anyone and listen to music at one in the morning.”
- “My child is a spoiled, out-of-hand lazybones. He doesn’t put me in a penny, he doesn’t want to study and help around the house. ”
The essence of NVC is to at least partially understand the motives and needs of a person. Let’s say a naughty child may be attracting attention in this way or getting angry at something. And the neighbor wants to relax after a working day and does not understand what is preventing the whole entrance to sleep. Based on this, the likelihood of a compromise will be higher.
3. Avoid the imperative
“Wash the dishes”, “call the customer”, “turn off the music” – such phrases sound like orders. And people don’t like being told to. Because of this, they can go into resistance: they will become stubborn, refuse to fulfill requests, and respond with rudeness. It is better to use softer, more diplomatic and respectful constructions, not to command, but to ask or offer. For example:
- “Will you be able to call the client today and clarify this issue?”
- “Let’s do a quick wash of the dishes, and then we’ll watch a series!”
- “Please turn down the music.”
4. Don’t give unsolicited advice
They may violate personal boundaries and take the form of psychological abuse . Therefore, it is better to wait until a person asks for some advice, and only then express his thoughts. And not towering over the interlocutor and not trying to crush him with his experience.
If it seems to you that advice is very necessary for a person, and he will definitely make his life better or help him in a difficult situation, first try to find out how appropriate it is to advise something now. For example:
- “I had a similar situation. If you want, I can somehow tell you what I did.”
5. Be careful with criticism
Perhaps the interlocutor is not in the mood to listen to it now or does not need it at all. Attempts to point out to him that he lives the wrong way, looks wrong and does the wrong thing, will simply anger him or upset him.
Sometimes criticism is indispensable (for example, if you work together). In this case, it is better to express it in the form of feedback. That is, talk about what you like about the person’s actions, then politely show him what can be fixed, and offer a couple of ideas on how to do it.
6. Learn to talk about your emotions
Sometimes all the difficulties in communication arise due to the fact that we cannot understand our feelings and name them correctly. Instead of yelling, “Everything pisses me off!” – you could say: “I’m upset because you …”. There is no aggression in the second statement, and it helps the interlocutor to understand you better.
Basic emotions are shown in Robert Plutchik’s wheel. Once you’re good at navigating this spectrum, it might be worth looking around and learning how to name additional shades. They can be found, for example, in linguo-psychological dictionaries .
7. Express sympathy
A person will be much more loyal if he sees that you are on his side, understand and share his emotions and do not consider him bad. And it will not be superfluous to praise the interlocutor for good deeds. For example:
- “You seem to be nervous at work. Do you play console to relieve stress ?
- “I really like the way you work. What if we discuss how we can further improve performance?”
Read also 🧐