Connecting to what is alive in us

Since early childhood many of us have learned to think and communicate in an impersonal way that does not require us to reveal what is going on inside of ourselves, but rather to think and speak in terms of ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ of others and/or ourselves. We focus our attention on classifying, analysing, diagnosing, labelling, comparing, criticising, blaming and judging ourselves and others instead of focusing on what we and others need and are not getting.
This kind of thinking and speaking at best creates misunderstandings and obstructs communication and at worst it leads to deep seated conflict, divorce and even wars. An alternative to our habitual way of communicating can be found in Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Developed in the 1960s by Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, NVC is based on spiritual principles of human interconnectedness and humanistic psychology.
NVC offers a process of relating to ourselves and others using a simple yet powerful 4-step model (observations, feelings, needs and requests) for personal growth and inter/intra personal healing as well as conflict resolution and mediation.
NVC is based on a fundamental principle that all human beings have the same basic needs (food, shelter, security, freedom, respect, connection, meaning, etc.) and that everything we do is in the service of trying to meet our needs. Since all of us can identify with these basic needs, understanding and connecting with our own needs and those of others, as well as recognising that meeting everyone’s needs is equally important can create a shared basis for connection both personal and global.
Feelings represent our emotional experience and physical sensations and they are rooted in how well our needs are met in each moment. In describing what we hear or see, the things we identify as a stimulus for our reaction, NVC teaches us to make clear, specific and neutral observations, much as the video camera might capture the moment, rather than mixing it with our judgements, analytical interpretations or evaluations of it.
The fourth and final component of the NVC process is the requests. Making clear, specific and achievable requests is a critical element for getting our needs and creating the life we want. Essential to making request is our willingness to hear ‘no’ and to stay connected with ourselves and/or others to find ways to meet everyone’s needs.

Gordana Stankovic 
Centro de Comunicación No Violenta

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