Also known as Compassionate Communication
Don't be deceived by the name Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
This is a process for learning how to communicate from the HEART.
We learn NVC by relaxing out of the analytical, diagnostic, and judgmental thinking that most of us have been heavily conditioned with and which so often informs our communication.
Here’s an example of what one partner might say to the other when they want some connection time with their partner:
The way we’ve been taught: “You’re becoming a tech addict. You keep disappearing into that damn phone”. (You want connection, but it seems like your partner is letting you know they are not available for it, which stimulates a judgmental tone in your voice)
Applying NVC: “I notice I start to feel anxious when I’ve seen you checking your phone 10 times in the last 15 minutes”. Could you help me understand what is happening for you?”
The traditional version contains some judgment, labelling and diagnosing. Expressing in this way will almost certainly stimulate defensiveness in your partner and escalation of tension between you.
The NVC version contains an expression of your personal feelings, an observation (the clear data), your need (to understand) and a request (for connection and understanding). Expressing in this way, particularly if your tone of voice carries a quality of curiosity rather than angst, is FAR more likely to create and or maintain the connection in your relationship.
Years ago, I had a couple come to me because they thought they had a racial divide in their relationship. He was of Indian heritage, she was Taiwanese. Once I taught them some basic NVC and gave them a technique for listening to each other, they were able to transform their relationship.
What is the secret power of NVC?
As humans we all have needs. Needs are universal to all humans. It is the place where we all connect to one another. Indian to Taiwanese.
When conflict arises, it will always be because we are arguing at the level of strategy, actions, thoughts, fears, desires, opinions etc.
Having a cup of coffee is a strategy to meet universal needs such as relaxation, stimulation, support, peace, or self-connection to name a few possible needs.
A child or not? A more difficult example...
If a couple are blaming each other for either being disinterested or being too obsessive about having a child or not, it will usually not end well.
If we invite them to share their needs with each other, they can have a deeply rich and intimate conversation.
One partner might have needs around fulfilling their maternal instinct, contributing to life, and expressing love.
The other partner might have needs around security, support, and fulfilment.
If each partner can be heard and acknowledged around what matters to them, they stand a better chance of navigating a way forward.
By identifying the universal needs of both sides and having them be heard and acknowledged, they are more likely to be able to work together to formulate a strategy where the needs of both can be accommodated.
Only for an Intimate Relationship?
No. NVC has facilitated peaceful solutions for tribes in Rwanda, communities of Arabs and Israelis, Irish groups and MANY more around the world. Some years ago, I personally facilitated a group of forty dissatisfied men who were part of a men’s organisation. I was able to identify their common universal needs and enable them to collaborate to come up with a strategy they were all comfortable with to move forward.
It is also very powerful when used in the context of Parenting. It invites both parents and children to have respectful conversations with each other. It helps to build trust and a willingness to hear each other.
The fact that it is useable in different contexts tells me it has an undeniable foundational context of Wisdom and Love. It can be a simple tool to help communication, or if taken to its depth, it can be a form of spiritual path.
The skills I learned in NVC have softened my hard analytical edges, taught me how to truly connect with others, how to see and feel the other's point of view, how to deal with day-to-day communication challenges in my relationships at a very practical level, taught me how to repair disconnections with significant others and supported me to stand in my leadership in important moments.
How can you find out more about this life-changing process?
Whilst the essence of NVC is very simple, many nuances can make a difference in whether it works or not.
I incorporate the skills of NVC in the Emotionally Focused Couples work I do, and if you would like more one-on-one training in NVC and how you can use it in your relationship or in your parenting, I can do that via NVC coaching sessions for couples or individuals.
For a nominal cost of $AUD100, I have available a series of 30 short videos that share the conceptual framing of NVC and some practical tips on how to use it. You can work through these videos at your own pace. Click here to let me know you're interested in seeing the videos when they are published.
There are Foundation Trainings and Advanced trainings being offered by trainers around Australia live (in person and on Zoom), and via self-paced learning. Click here for more info.
I found Compassionate Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to be a really powerful tool for connecting back with myself and with what is actually happening. I found that it takes me back directly into my experience and allows me to come into the clarity, simplicity and 'truth' that I've been seeking for some time when trying to work through tangled situations, feelings etc. I realised how much I've been dealing with things in my mind going all the time into the mind - and not connected with what I am actually feeling - which is the entry to seeing what is actually happening - and truth. I also enjoyed and felt completely comfortable in your facilitation Alistair. I wanted to try NVC with you because I know you have a complete commitment to truth and would not try to push ideas or views onto anyone. I also found that you (Alistair) were completely confident and fluent in the application of NVC and I found your input really valuable.
Ilona - Legal Secretary
Relating to Connect - Foundation
Living NVC - Advanced
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