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Find Common Ground with Anyone

The key to building bridges with anyone? Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as proposed by Marshall Rosenburg. But first, let's understand its opposite: violent communication. For Rosenburg, “violent” means "actions that cause harm or hurt." This can manifest as judging, bullying, blaming, name-calling, or even speaking without listening.

So, what's at the heart of NVC? It's simple: honest and compassionate communication. It encourages us to articulate our desires and needs transparently, while also understanding and respecting those of others. Essentially, recognizing everyone's fundamental needs can change the dynamics of our interactions, turning adversaries into allies.

The Four Pillars of NVC:

  1. Observe without judgment: Recognize actions impacting our well-being.

  2. Feel: Understand our emotions in response to these observations.

  3. Identify Needs: Recognize the desires or values fueling these feelings.

  4. Request: Clearly ask for actions that can enhance our lives.

A Real-Life Example: Imagine your brother, excited about a new game, invites you to play. Swamped, you decline, leading him to exclaim, “You never like my ideas!” Instead of reacting, apply NVC. Observe that he feels you rejected his idea. Feel the tension. Identify his need for validation and support. Finally, Request a solution: "How can I make you feel more supported?" Just like that, a potential conflict becomes an opportunity for understanding.

NVC encourages two core practices:

  1. Separate Observations from Judgments: Instead of viewing someone as "demanding," consider “he seeks validation for his ideas”. By avoiding assumptions, we leave room for understanding.

  2. Own Your Feelings and Actions: Our reactions stem from within, not solely from external events. While someone’s actions can influence our feelings, they don't dictate them.

In essence, NVC champions recognizing and respecting individual needs. It encourages us to communicate with clarity and empathy, fostering deeper connections with those around us. Dive into the world of NVC and discover the transformative power of understanding. Thank you for joining this journey!

By Lihong McPhail

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