The Art Of Communication

I have read Non Violent Communication 2 years ago and was absolutely blown away then. But my attempts to master this new way of talking failed miserably at the time due to the overwhelming intensity of the relationship I was in. Right now however in a more serene environment my interest was renewed. Huge thank you to my friend coach Ryan who has suggested this free video recording of a seminar made available on YouTube and I found it extremely engaging and could not stop until I watched all 4 hours of it. Profound and hilarious, I highly recommend to everybody no matter what your current communication skills.

The direct link to the video no YouTube is – to continue watching just click on each video in sequence in the right hand side videos list from the bottom upwards. Look for Marshall’s signature red shirt to distinguish the seminar series from the other videos in the channel.

Here are some helpful pdfs: feelings, needs, evaluations mistaken for needs.

Here are the copious notes I took while watching the video:

The quality of connection that gets everyone’s needs met through natural giving

To observe without evaluating is the highest form of human intelligence

~ krishnamurti

Later you will learn some technology that no matter what others are saying you will never hear another insult, harsh words or criticism ever again. With this technology all you’ll ever hear is the only thing human beings ever say – please and thank you

Any evaluation of others that implies wrongness is a tragic expression of an unmet need

Needs are the life seeking expression within us. Learn to communicate from the need and to judge solely whether what someone is doing is serving the need/life or not (instead of moralistic judgement of right/wrong)

The form for expressing the need is: “when you do (describe precise observable action), I feel (boil down as close as possible to 4 base feelings mad, sad, glad and afraid to avoid ambiguity and hidden evaluations)”

Behind every feeling there is a need.

4 feelings that tell us we are not directly connected to our needs in this moment are: anger, depression, guilt and shame

In language connected to needs we have power with people as we work with the natural human desire to give. If we blame or make wrong in any way, the other person’s natural response is to defensiveness and attack

We never really know what we want until we get it. If once we get it life hasn’t become more wonderful then we know it’s not what we want. But the only way to know is to express the need we feel in that moment and have it met, we can’t know in advance. And that’s what makes life interesting.

Make sure that your need does not include the other person and solely focus on ourselves

If you want to avoid hurting other people, the only strategy to do that is to become a nice dead person

Feelings change every few seconds, life is ever changing. So if someone asks you “do you love me” you first need to get clear if they are referring to a feeling of love and if so ask precisely at what point in time do they refer to so you can express your feeling in that point in time. And if it so happen that right now it’s no – ask them to ask you again Ina few moments

After expressing a genuine need – need to feel loved, respected, understood – state very clearly your request for an observable behavior that will help fulfill that need, needs on their our are too ephemeral and personal and do not help the other person give in the best way possible to help you meet it

When expressing a request make sure it’s a positive action. Say what you want them to do, not what you do NOT want

Express your need in the form: “I would like you to do…” Make sure it’s clear it’s a request, not a demand

“Please only do as I request if you can do so with a joy of a little boy feeding hungry ducks. Please do not do as I request out of fear of punishment, in the hopes of a reward, out of shame, guilt, duty, etc”

Let me, give me the freedom, allow me, etc is not a doable action. Always distill your request to a doable action.

You can’t tell from the language if something is a request or demand. The only way to know is by how the person requesting treats the other if the request has not been fulfilled.

Never end an exchange with a feeling, always end it with a request even if the initial request can not be fulfilled. If people hear the demand their only 2 options are to submit or rebel.

Labels lead to self fulfilling prophecies.

There are two types of people: slobs and neats. For some unknown reason they always end up living together. Plan for world peace – put the slobs in one hemisphere, the neats in the other

The hardest to spot is when they are trying to fulfill your request hoping for a reward or that you will love them in return.

Don’t ever listen to what the other person thinks, especially not what they think about you. Instead, try to listen for the need trying to express itself behind it.

The second part of NVC is empathic listening – you can only ever hear feelings or needs being expressed and no criticism or blame, etc. When receiving communication from another person respond with: “are you feeling (guess the feeling) because you need (guess the need)”

I don’t have control over what others say but I can control what I hear which is always only feelings and needs and thus is a gift to us in whichever form they happen to be expressed

When guessing a need make sure to leave yourself out of it – all their needs can be met without you.

Always put your attention on what’s alive in the other person, in their heart. Your eyes change then and communicate your intent more powerfully than any words ever can.

In our culture we have been conditioned that pain is good so when we hear an expression of pain we immediately try to reassure and to fix the situation. Never do that as it only makes matters worse and does not address the need.

People want to be reassured that you are doing something out of self fullness and sincere desire to help. If you can not give from that space than don’t do it as it does not serve anyone in the long run.

Don’t do anything that isn’t play

~ Joseph Campbell’s finding of one singular commonality among all myths and religions

Don’t do things for other people, only do things that meet your own needs (as when your own needs have been met, the need to give arises naturally and spontaneously)

Even after correctly identifying the other person’s feeling and need, don’t rush back to evaluate and express your own feelings. First give the other person as much empathy as they need

Empathic connection before education – take a deep breath, continue focusing on and going deeper into another person’s feelings, pain and need.

When you can hear the other person’s needs without criticism or demand and they can hear yours without criticism or demand – the solution to both will find you, you don’t need to actively try to resolve the situation, only to listen empathically and establishing a connection.

Never put your “but” in the face of an angry person

To develop your need literacy do the following exercises:
First make a list of things you say to yourself when you are less than perfect
Next make a list of things you judge about other when you are angry
Thirdly, list those things to which when other people say you get defensive about. Also put on that list things that you are so afraid to hear that you have become a nice dead person and don’t even bring up in fear of hearing them
Finally go back to first list and link each judgement to a specific trigger and an unmet need. On the second list guess what your need was not being met when you have reacted with judgement. On the third list try to guess the other person’s need behind the judgements expressed or imagined.

List of needs in NVC – you it’s hard to identify your own need, go through the list and your body will tell you when you have gotten close

Never hear anyone’s expectations, hear only needs.

Never use the following words when saying NO: no, I can’t, I don’t have time, it’s impossible, etc. What do you say? Say your need that keeps you from saying yes.

All no’s are tragic expressions of a need

Most of us have an inner educator who educates us when he notices when we are less than perfect. We need to train our inner educator to talk NVC style.

Any apology that comes out of feeling like you are a bad person is not going to serve anyone involved. When your inner educator labels you as a bad person, you need to hear the need your inner educator is trying to express. You know when you have identified the need correctly when you can hear the genuine feeling free of judgement. “I am sorry” or “this was inconsiderate of me” all stem from the judgment of having done something wrong. There is no such thing as wrong or right, but if you are feeling sad that you have acted not in harmony with your own needs you can express that

We have been trained to be quite habitual to communicate in ways that are quite unnatural

~ ghandi

In the beginning it will feel quite unnatural to communicate this way but it the most natural way to communicate this way which we are born with but we loose by the age of one

If we want another person to change some of their habitual behavior to meet a need of ours, start by acknowledging what they are doing as the most precious thing, empathize with the intent behind the behavior.

If you want people to understand you when they don’t, never say “you misunderstand me” or “that isn’t what I said”. Always say “thank you for telling me what you have heard. I can see I have not made myself very clear, I would like to try again (empathy) (expressing a need again) Can you tell me what you heard”

To begin communication to get everyone’s needs met, first internally release any responsibility for causing the other person’s pain (even if they are trying to make us believe we did). Second, which is the hardest, is to release our responsibility for making this person feel better. The more we think it is our job to fix the pain or the person, the worse it will become. We can’t fix people but we don’t have to. There is a very powerful healing energy always available if we don’t block it. And we block it by trying to fix things ourselves. The way to unblock it to let it do it’s work is through empathy. Empathy requires presence

Don’t do something, stand there

~ Buddha

When we do that, that energy works through us, when we have precious connection with the other person. We can stand there with the person in their pain. To be present just empathize, reflect back to them the feelings and needs you are hearing.

When you hear a person talk a out the past, empathy would be to bring attention to what’s alive in us right now. For example “it sounds like you are still hurt over what happened back then…”

Positive moralistic judgements are just as poisonous as negative ones as they imply that there is such a thing as the opposite of that judgement. “you’re a kind person” implies there is such a thing as “unkind person” and also that I am the judge who knows the difference. So no more compliments and praise, especially not when it is meant as a reward or reenforcement for a particular behavior

To express gratitude in NVC, bring to the attention of the other person concretely the thing they did to make life more wonderful for you. Leave out vague generalities. There is 0 value in being told what you are, moreover, there is great danger in it – you might believe it! It is just as dangerous to believe that you are smart, as that you are stupid. Both of them reduce you to a thing and you are much more than that.
Secondly, let them know how it made you feel.
Lastly, let them know which need has been fulfilled by that thing they did.

You can direct expressions of gratitude by asking questions: what did I do? How it made you feel? What need did I help fulfill?

Same literacy used for both making requests and expressing gratitude: observation, feeling and need. Making sure it comes from the heart and not any ulterior motive.

The concept of deserving is a very dangerous one and should be eliminated from our consciousness.

It’s our light, not our darkness that scares us the most

~ course in miracles

We have amazing power to make life wonderful for others: words, touch, service. There is nothing we enjoy doing more than exercising that power. But we have been educated to hate and judge ourselves and feel powerless so its a pretty big jump for most to embrace that power but we can get there.