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What is Nonviolent Communication? 

Hannah Cericola, LPC

What is NVC? 

Welcome to Symmetry Counseling, your partner in mental wellness. In this article, we will help you discover the importance of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and how to break free from harmful communication patterns to help cultivate healthier connections. If you are ready to take the first step towards harmonious relationships, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

What is NVC? 

Violent communication includes intimidating, judgemental, oppressive, and egotistic ways of communicating. Violent communication can generate misinterpretation and resentment, ultimately resulting in agony and controversy. We are commonly taught to communicate our feelings about how another has wronged us. However, depending on how we express these feelings could give us negative results. What is more useful is to take control of our feelings and needs to ask in a healthy manner what would benefit both parties involved. 

The fundamental principles of nonviolent communication entail expressing ourselves with transparency, compassion, and autonomy listening to our peers’ feelings and needs with sensitivity and warmth and promoting a mutual understanding of both communicators’ concerns. Nonviolent communication skills allow a framework to convey various concerns stemming from conversations in intimate relationships to conflicts in macro interrelationships. The ultimate purpose of this communication style is to fine-tune the communicator’s awareness of language to convey thoroughly what is essential to them and to apprehend what is important to others. 

Ingredients of NVC 

Nonviolent communication consists of components that assist us in fulfilling the skills of engaging in healthy conversations. Observations, feelings, needs, and empathy contribute to the strengthening of communication in our personal and professional relationships. Observations embody what we see and hear that are catalysts to our responses. A nonviolent communicator’s goal is to target and describe what we are reacting to in finer detail. 

Mastering Observations

Observations allow a person to paint a picture for the other communicator of what they observed and felt at the time. For example, if we say, “ You’re impolite,” the other person may feel offended or not see eye to eye, while if we say: “ When you walked in and bumped into me without saying sorry.” the other communicator may be able to reflect on the instance rather than just being told they are impolite. 

It is essential that when we are communicating what occurred based on our observation that we do not mix in our evaluation. In trying to communicate in a healthy manner, we need to master how to translate judgment and interpretations into observations that transition from right/wrong thinking and assist us in taking leadership in our reactions by directing our attention to feelings and needs. 

Unlocking Transparent Communication Through Feelings and Needs

Feelings constitute our emotional understanding and physical impact correlated to our needs that have or have not been met. The focus is to identify, name, and link the feelings experienced to our needs. When we are processing and understanding our feelings, it is key to focus on how we describe our experiences rather than the interpretations of others’ actions. For example: “ I feel lonely” describes the experience, while “I feel like you don’t like me” describes the interpretation of how others may be feeling. This way of communication allows others to see how you are feeling rather than feeling attacked for your perception of how they are feeling. 

Empathy in Action

We all share necessary needs for survival, including shelter, nutrition, hydration, and rest. In nonviolent communication, needs consist of what is most important to us: our values, beliefs, and attitudes. Identifying, addressing, processing, and connecting our needs assists us in enhancing the relationship we have with ourselves and helps us develop stronger emotional maturity. It is essential to empathize with each other’s differing needs as you would hope others would be in respect of your needs. When involving a person, setting, action, time, or item in our declaration of what we want, we are identifying a strategy rather than a need. For example, if someone were to say, “I want you to come over for a movie night,” it may be a strategy to meet a need for community and connection. 

As mentioned before, feelings come to light when our needs are met or not met. By connecting our feelings to needs, we are taking responsibility for our feelings, which does not place blame on anyone else. For example, a person who is feeling lonely and wants to communicate their feelings and needs in a healthy manner may want to say,” I am feeling lonely because my need for community and connection is not being met.” This form of communication is healthier than saying, “ I am feeling lonely because you do not spend time with me.” 

Revealing our observations, feelings, and needs to others is necessary for nonviolent communication. However, it is crucial when empathizing with others’ observations, feelings, and needs. Empathy is the action of connecting with another person by hypothesizing their feelings and needs. Our empathic methods of communicating an understanding of others’ feelings and needs can be an influential shift in conversation in problematic circumstances. The act of engaging in nonviolent communication allows us to relate to others, as many of us may share the same feelings and needs.

 At Symmetry Counseling, we believe in the transformative power of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). By mastering observations, understanding feelings and needs, and practicing empathy, you can unlock transparent and harmonious communication in your personal and professional relationships. Take the first step towards healthier connections and mental wellness—schedule an appointment with us today. Let NVC be your guide to a more fulfilling life.

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