Notes on Non-Violent Communication

Posted on Thursday, May 9, 2019

These are condensed notes from the book covering the topic of non-violent communication inspired by this enlightening blog.

Chapter One

Non-violent is used in the sense that Ghandi meant it; our natural state from when violence has left our hearts. NVC (Non-violent communication) reframes how we express ourselves to others and how we hear others. We learn to identify clearly what we want in any given situation. NVC attempts to remove unhelpful patterns of attacking/defending/withdrawing. Four components are:

Addresses each component necessary for healthy communication and has broad applicability across all of our lives.

Chapter Two

Moralistic judgements about wrong-doing and right-doing are used as a way to frame ourself with respect to others. Judgements and classifications are a shortcut and simplified way of framing the world without an examination of how they affect us and why. They are “mean” or “unreasonable” or “uncultured”.

These are actually expressions of our own needs and values. Moralistic and value judgements are different. Examples are value judgements are honest and freedom are good. Moralistic judgements impose these judgements on others. E.g. People who kill others are evil.

Communicating our desires as demands blocks compassion. We can never make anyone do anything (in a free society).

Chapter Three - Observe without Evaluation

1st component of NVC is to observe without evaluation. Evaluations that are generalised should be discouraged, and instead evaluations should be framed with time and context. People view observation and evaluation as criticism. Static evaluations such as: you are too generous should be reframed with observation and evaluation (with context) such as when I see you giving all your lunch money to others, I think you are being too generous.

Chapter Four - Expression of Feeling

Expression is the next component of NVC. We must learn to distinguish feelings from thoughts. I feel that… does not begin an expression of feeling but rather opinion. We need to have the construct I feel [adjective]. E.g. I feel disappointed in myself as a guitar player.

It is a good idea to strengthen and improve our feeling vocabulary. Apprehensive, invigorated, dismayed, embarrased, forlorn, listless, overwhelmed, shocked, upset, wretched. The book offers a good list of feeling adjectives.

Chapter Five - Taking Responsibility

Others can stimulate feelings but not create them. We can respond to negative feelings in a number of ways; blaming ourselves, blaming others, sensing our own feelings/needs, sensing others’ feelings and needs. Avoid tricks to remove responsibility such as; it really infuriates me when…rather than I feel (emotion) because….

Use the construct I feel … because I need/want. Judgements of others are really alienated expressions of our own needs. If we don’t value our needs, others may not either.

Chapter Six - Requesting That Which Would Enrich Life

The next step is communicating our wishes. We must use positive language.