“Compassionate Communication”, also known as “Nonviolent Communication” or “NVC”, is a process for understanding ourselves and others through connecting beneath our thoughts, judgements and feelings to the level of universal needs that drive all action.
The NVC process was developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s, and the Center for Nonviolent Communication was founded in 1984 as an international peacemaking organization. The centers’ mission is to foster healing and reconciliation in personal relationships, families, work settings, health care, social services, governments, schools and social change organizations. Trainers are now facilitating this process in over 65 countries worldwide.
NVC can be seen as both a spiritual practice and a concrete set of skills.
As a spiritual practice, Compassionate Communication is motivated by a reverence for life, helping us to better contribute to our own well-being and the well-being of others. It is about connecting with what is alive in this moment and having our actions flow from a place of presence, care and authenticity.
As a concrete set of skills, NVC uses a four-step model of inner (self) and outer (other) communication that involves observation, feeling, need and request. We learn to clarify what we observe and we discover how our evaluations of events affect what we see and feel. We learn to identify our emotions and differentiate them from our thoughts. We recognize our deeper needs and values and become aware of what we truly want to ask of ourselves and others.
The inner process helps us to uncover the thinking, communication habits, or lingering pain that keep us from experiencing the life we want. We can then express these discoveries with honesty and clarity in ways that make us more likely to be heard and understood. From this place we listen to others more openly because once we have recognized our own inner core it is easier to recognize the same in others. And when others feel heard and valued they are more able to truly hear and value us as well.
Marshall Rosenberg delves into the conflicts between ‘enemies’ in war torn countries, helping them and us to understand that in the deeper level of needs we are all the same. We all need love, meaning, play, belonging, and physical health in our lives. Needs are never in conflict. We don’t have conflicting needs. The conflict is in the stories we make up, and the strategies we grab for to get our needs met.
As we develop NVC consciousness, our awareness expands and we move from a focus of satisfying our needs to the realization and connection with the life energy that our needs represent. Taking full responsibility for our needs and recognizing that it is truly up to us to meet them is an empowering occasion and when compassionate connection is made, a vista of new options and strategies come to light enabling us to create mutually productive outcomes more effectively and consistently.
Compassionate Communication has touched my life deeply, fulfilling my passion for exploring personal growth, relationship and spirituality. It has enveloped, complemented and enhanced all my other explorations and expressions of these things.