In the context of the "Leadership Check Basic" by TTI Success Insights that I did in summer 2016 (read the full story and learn what it is in detail here), I came in contact with interesting literature as recommended readings during the coaching sessions that resulted from the above-mentioned test. One of the books was "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life" written by American psychologist and mediator Dr Marshall B. Rosenberg, which I have read several times in total and just recently. In the following article, I want to familiarise you with Rosenberg's book and the concept of nonviolent communication.
Nonviolent Communication by Dr Marshall B. Rosenberg
In the early 1960s, Rosenberg developed Nonviolent Communication (in short: NVC), an approach for helping to resolve conflict within people, in relationships and society. Dr Marshall B. Rosenberg worked worldwide as a peacemaker in conflict zones including Nigeria, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Serbia, Croatia, Ireland, and the Middle East, including the West Bank.
Nonviolent Communication holds that most conflicts between individuals or groups arise from miscommunication about their human needs. The fundamental assumption described in NVC is that people only react with violence or behaviour harmful to others when they do not recognise more effective strategies for meeting their needs.
NVC proposes that people should identify shared needs and collaborate to develop strategies and make requests of each other to meet each other's needs. The goal is interpersonal harmony and learning for future cooperation. NVC is taught as a process of interpersonal communication designed to improve the compassionate connection to others. It can also be used as a toolkit for mediation.
Four components result in the fundament of the concept of nonviolent communication:
I) Observation: The concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being.
The key idea behind that point is to separate observations from evaluations. For NVC, only the observations are needed. That often means that we need to shed our old habits because we tend to mix in our evaluations. The following example will clarify what that means.
Ex. observation with mixed-in evaluation:
"Hank Smith is a poor soccer player."
Ex. observation separate from the evaluation:
"Hank Smith has not scored a goal in twenty games."
II) Feelings: How we feel in relation to what we observe
Essential during that step is to distinguish between what we feel and what we think we are.
Ex. description of what we think we are:
"I feel inadequate as a guitar player."
Ex. expression of actual feelings:
"I feel disappointed in/impatient with/frustrated with myself as a guitar player."
III) Needs: The needs, values, desires, etc. that create our feelings
IV) Request: The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our loves
Practitioners of NVC are asked to focus on those components to be able to understand and successfully use the approach in daily life. In his book, Rosenberg explains in more detail how to go through those steps and how to react in certain situations assuming that the counterpart in the particular conflict situation is not aware of the concept. By providing several conflict examples from various business areas and life situations, Rosenberg makes it easier to understand the difference between a conflict where NVC is used and the same situation without taking advantage of it. Furthermore, those examples highlight which power and benefit the concept has.
In my opinion, the book helps a lot in terms of communicating more clearly in conflict situations, to choose the words wisely and to be more aware of certain expressions that might have a negative impact on the conflict-solving dialogue.
Did the overall topic catch your attention? Then feel free to take a look at Rosenberg's "Nonviolent Communication - A Language of Life". ;)