Enjoy Improved Relationships by Using Nonviolent Communication, Part III

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This is part three in my series on Nonviolent Communication.  You can find part one here and part two here.

Today we'll be focusing on the first step involved in the mechanics of the NVC process.

It's important to remember that these steps should be applied with correct intention in order for them to be considered NVC.  NVC's intention is not to get people to do what we want, but to create a quality connection so that the needs of everyone can be compassionately met.

Remember the 2 Foundational Questions of NVC that I shared with you in the previous post?  
  • How are you?  
  • What would make life more wonderful?
We use these questions when communicating with others in order to express what's alive in us and how our needs are and aren't being met.

In order to do this effectively, we need to keep evaluations and observations separate.  This process begins with making a clear observation of the actions of others without judgement, evaluation, analysis, criticism, labels or diagnosis.

Be specific and describe

Sounds simple, but there are many confusions between observations and evaluations.  Here are some examples:

  1. Using verbs (including forms of "to be") in observations  "You are too generous!" vs. "When I see you give so much money to others, I think you're being too generous."
  2. Using verbs that evaluate "Bob procrastinates." vs. "Bob only studies for exams the night before."
  3. Using inferences as the only possibility  "She won't turn her work in." vs. "She said, 'I won't turn my work in.'"
  4. Confusing predictions and certainty  "If you don't eat well, your health will suffer." vs. "If you don't eat well, I fear that your health will suffer."
  5. Failing to be specific in references  "Minorities don't take care of their homes." vs. "I've never seen the minority family living next door shovel snow."
  6. Using words denoting ability without specifying an evaluation is being made  "Bob is a poor soccer player." vs. "Bob hasn't scored a goal in the last five games."
  7. Using adverbs or adjectives in ways that don't signify an evaluation is being made  "Bob is ugly." vs. "Bob's looks don't appeal to me."
  8. Using words (such as always, never, seldom, & frequently) as an exaggeration  "Bob's always late." vs. "Bob was 15 minutes late three times last week."
By confusing evaluations with observations, we provoke defensiveness in others, instead of compassion. 

So, this first step in the mechanics of the NVC process is to be specific and describe the actions of others which are interfering with our needs being met.


NVC concepts can make such a difference in how you view yourself and others.  Feel free to ask any questions regarding NVC you might have in the comments - and don't forget to sign up to receive Syncopated Mama blog updates by email, so you don't miss a single installment of this series!

Resources I've used to learn about NVC

Keep reading!  Find Part 4 of my NVC series here!

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