Too often, with colleagues at work, or with family members, simple dialogue turns into conflict. However, such disagreements often stem from a simple communication problem. Can we overcome these difficulties before they arise? That is the kind of small miracle that nonviolent communication will help you realize!
A Healthier Way to Communicate
Nonviolent communication was developed in the 70s by Marshall B. Rosenberg, a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Nonviolent communication is also inspired the work of psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow, as well as ahimsa (“non-nuisance”), a religious concept referring in particular to the movement of nonviolence brought forward by Gandhi.
According to Marshall Rosenberg, nonviolent communication fosters “a quality of relationship that meets the needs of each other while being motivated solely by the impulse of the heart and joy of doing.” Thus, contact is more than a trite act, but a privileged way to build lasting and respectful relationships with our fellow men.
Promote Respect for Differences
Any exchange between two or more persons may emphasize differences. However, it is often the perception of these differences that provokes violence. To connect nonviolently, first we have to value love and respect for others. We can accept each other in however we are, even if others are singularly different from what we are.
Nonviolence in communication must be a desire. One can accept not being in agreement with another without imposing one’s will; it is to reject domination, even if the other resists what we are.
Nonviolent communication means being on an equal footing when we make words and thoughts, because violence is too often the “solution” when we cannot argue. This is the reason why we must first take the time to know others understand them. Only when we understand the richness of others can we hope to communicate. That’s why we recommend that you sign to exchange ideas and to argue in childhood.
Benevolence is a type of kindness and openness towards others. It goes hand in hand with empathy, and helps to pacify relations. Nonviolent communication requires that before contact, our mood be peaceful and that we want to develop healthy relationships.
Thus, instead of speaking mechanically, without really paying attention to others, we choose the words and the tone we use with care, realizing the needs and emotions that everyone lives. Nonviolent communication can thus be truly attentive to each other and ourselves in relationships.
The Four Stages of Nonviolent Communication
Nonviolent communication is divided into four stages. Each of these steps is very important and complements the other. Take time to familiarize yourself with each of them and your communication will be transformed!
The first step is observing the situation of communication. It can be summarized as follows: I observe behavior that affects my wellbeing. To better understand, here’s an example. Imagine a customer service rep who meets a customer requiring credit; the customer gradually becomes more and more aggressive. The rep replies, “You can talk to me respectfully, as I do, because I have nothing to do personally with what is happening to you.” At this stage, you pay attention to nonverbal messages (sighs, intonation of voice): the goal is to stay close to ‘objective’ reality (facts).
In this second stage, you wonder about your emotional state related to the situation and expressing your feelings. Returning to our example. The rep adds: “I feel angry, too, because do not wish to be talked to like that…” Start the sentence with “I” to take responsibility for what you are going and clearly.
The third step is to identify the needs, desires and values that have aroused feelings in yourself or your partner. You also express the desire to communicate in a nonviolent way, as in, “We cannot eliminate your unpleasant situation, but let us talk respectfully to simplify both our lives.” Be attentive to your needs and those of others who are at the root of the problem situation.
The last step is to ask the other to contribute to the mutual well-being in the relationship. It reinforces the “pact of nonviolent communication.” For example, “If you agree, we can talk to each other with respect in the future. This will avoid making it an even more unpleasant a situation that already is for you, I imagine.”
In closing, remember that communication is part of the dynamics of democracy; that is to say, dialogue and the ability to confront my ideas and constructive manner peaceful. Use nonviolent communication to precisely speak honestly and clearly, and to look at others with respect and empathy.