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!)