That’s a very misleading title! I wholly believe Non Violent Communication has great usefulness to our lives and relationships but there is life beyond the basics. It’s a good life when NVC can become a tool for introspection and helping you get to a place of compassion when dealing with other people.
I remember when I first read about NVC, I was blown away and immediately read the book a second time. I was excited to have a completely different perspective on my life and life interconnections in general. I was eager to put the basics to practice and even found a friend online with similar goals and we talked on the phone every day while we had downtime with our infant daughters. We practised the basics using the real life conflicts we were dealing with. It felt so amazing to feel heard and understand. I felt light as a feather during those phone conversations and was a better parent and partner thanks to them.
Problems arose when I tried to use NVC basics with my partner or a few loved ones, all of whom didn’t at the time understand or have any interest in learning more about NVC. I needed to move beyond the stiff basics of observations, feelings, needs and requests and the mechanical way it can often come across. I learned that you can still use each of these steps but many times they are best used silently and to yourself.
The basics have a place, of course. Using the basics with a friend outside of the real life conflict is a great place to not only find some resolutions to the conflict, even if just for yourself but to help turn practice into habit. Habit at least for your brain to learn so you can be in an understanding, compassionate and empathetic state quicker and when you need it the most.
Sadly, I’ve seen NVC used in ways to coerce, manipulate and intimidate and I’m not even sure if the NVC user realised it. I’m guessing that there is a specific outcome that this person is hoping to achieve rather than focusing on true connection. It’s likely also fear and disconnection that leads to needing to control. I find it incredibly sad and yet ironic to try and force connection, it only leads to deeper disconnect.
Like anything else, learning and practising NVC can take a lifetime. I’m certainly always learning and needing practice; It’s easy to fall prey to reactions to the things people say or do. It’s worth trying to be mindful of those moments and to use them as chance to take a different path in how you think and behave next time.
It’s okay to not use NVC all the time; being able to talk without it and in “jackal” speak can be a release and gives you an opportunity to have a closer look at your deeper feelings, if you choose to.
(I wrote this at the end of November and am only getting around to posting it now!)
Thank you for posting it Annie.
Annie, this completely nails how I have come to feel about NVC. I can’t even think of anything else to say about it!
Regarding “NVC book”:
is this the name of the book you read twice?
This is so true for me! So I continue looking for places safe enough to practice NVC and to develop the NVC consciousness in myself. Thanks for sharing! -Patty from TCC :-)
Thank you for all the comments!
Lise- Sorry! I should have linked to the book. This is the one- Non Violent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships, and Your World in Harmony with Your Values:
You may need to cut and paste this long url!
I have been itching to read this book for a few years now and somehow it hasn’t made it onto my shelf. I’m adding it to my queue right now. Thanks for the rich description.
we have a local parenting group meeting to practise NVC. there is alot i love, but at times i really struggle with the notion the the goal for NVC practise will be to ensure success with pushing an agenda on the kids! I am so not there, and i struggle with others not embracing that it’s okay to relinquish control, and that when we do, something beautiful emerges: non-competitive partnership.
The group is a tad more mainstream then I would like to be working with i think too. Not sure if we’ll stay with them. The paragraph you wrote about seeing NVC used to control and coerce really rung true.
I’m grateful you shared this post :) It helped me in more than one way to balance my perspective. We are truly all learning all the time, and I so agree that our personal work will be a lifetime thing!
(Clearly I’m getting caught up on your blog. It’s been a while.) Thank you for your comment about jackal speak serving a purpose at times. I often feel guilty or disappointed when I have “gone there” and yet it is a part of each of us to feel – and express – that depth of emotion. I don’t often do it, but when I have my partner will sometimes comment that he sees an awareness shift in Sage and Lupine, our kids. (Lupine among the lupines in your post…) So thanks for that validation of my inner jackal. How NVC of you. :-)