How to practice non violent communication

Nonviolent Communication or NVC is a four step method used for clear, empathic discussion. NVC is designed to find a way for everyone involved to get what really matters to them without the use of guilt, humiliation, shame, blame, coercion, or threats. Many schools use it as part of their anti-bullying programs because it is useful for resolving conflicts, connecting with others, and living in a way that is conscious, present, and attuned to the genuine, living needs of oneself and others.

First and foremost, this type of discussion begins with an observation without judgment. Therefore, one must learn to say, “I see the laundry has not been finished,” instead of, “You did nothing all day.” Seeing the laundry still in the machine is a fact, accusing the person who had not completed it of doing nothing all day is a judgment.

The next step is for the observer to either explain why the observation bothers them or to guess as to why he or she saw what was seen. For example, “I see that you are punching the pillow. Are you angry?” or you could say, “The lion is trying to get out of his cage. I’m scared.”

This step is difficult because you need to learn how to name emotions without moral judgment so that you can connect in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation. The idea is to perform this step with the aim of accurately identifying the feeling that you or the other person is having in that moment. There should not be any shame for their feelings or otherwise trying to prevent them from feeling as they do. Remember, feelings are sometimes hard to put into words.

The belief is that when needs are met, happy, pleasant feelings result and when they are not met, unpleasant feelings are created. By tuning into the feeling, you can find the underlying need and by stating the need, both parties have clarity about what is alive in both of them at that moment.

Bear in mind that needs have a special meaning when it comes to nonviolent communication. They are common to everyone and not tied to any particular circumstance or strategy for fulfilling them. Therefore, wanting to go somewhere specific with someone is not a need. Neither is the desire to spend time with him or her. In both cases, the need is companionship and can be fulfilled going other places with other people.

Finally, ask clearly and specifically for what you want right now. Do not try to hint or state only what you do not want. For it truly to be a request, and not a demand, you must allow the other person to say no and/or propose an alternative. You must take responsibility for getting your own needs met, and let the other person take responsibility for theirs.

When using this as a school anti-bullying program, the facility must realize that it will take time to implement as everyone involved must practice and become used to solving issues using these steps.

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