After years of so many people telling how much this book has helped them, I finally read it. And yeah, it’s impressive. Very compassionate and actively empathetic. Everyone who communicates should read this and take it to heart.
Try to understand everything that anyone ever does.
Express yourself with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention.
Observe carefully, and specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting you.
Identify and clearly articulate what you want.
Clarify what you observe, feel, and need rather than diagnosing and judging.
Four components of NVC: observations, feelings, needs, requests.
Observe what is actually happening in a situation: what you observe others saying or doing.
Articulate this observation without introducing any judgment or evaluation.
State how you feel when you observe this action: are you hurt, scared, joyful, amused, irritated?
Say what needs are connected to the feelings you identify.
What I am observing, feeling, and needing
What I am requesting to enrich my life
What you are observing, feeling, and needing
What you are requesting to enrich your life
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
Analyses of others are actually expressions of your own needs and values.
There is less violence in cultures where people think in terms of human needs - as compared to cultures where people label one another as “good” or “bad” and believe that the “bad” ones deserve to be punished.
Language facilitates denial of personal responsibility.
* Things you “have” to do.
* “You make me feel…"
* “I drink because I am an alcoholic.”
You deny responsibility for your actions when you attribute their cause to factors outside yourself.
* The actions of others - “I hit my child because he ran into the street.”
* The dictates of authority - “I lied to the client because the boss told me to.”
* Group pressure - “I started smoking because all my friends did.”
* Institutional policies, rules, and regulations - “I have to suspend you for this infraction because it’s the school policy.”
* Gender roles, social roles, or age roles - “I hate going to work, but I do it because I am a husband and a father.”
* Uncontrollable impulses - “I was overcome by my urge to eat the candy bar.”
Replace language that implies lack of choice with language that acknowledges choice.
Don’t mix together what someone does, with how you react to it.
When you combine observation with evaluation, you decrease the likelihood that others will hear your intended message.
Instead, they are apt to hear criticism and thus resist whatever you are saying.
I’ve never seen a stupid kid.
I’ve seen a kid who sometimes did things I didn’t understand or things in ways I hadn’t planned.
I’ve seen a kid who hadn’t seen the same places where I had been, but he was not a stupid kid.
I’ve looked as hard as I can look but never ever seen a cook.
I saw a person who combined ingredients on which we dined,
A person who turned on the heat and watched the stove that cooked the meat - I saw those things but not a cook.
Tell me, when you’re looking, Is it a cook you see or is it someone doing things that we call cooking?
Observe without evaluating.
You seldom do what I want.
→ The last three times I initiated an activity, you said you didn’t want to do it.
Evaluations are more likely to be heard as criticism than as invitations to connect with our feelings.
Evaluations often lead to self-fulfilling prophecies.
A husband, for example, hears himself criticized for behaving like a wall; he is hurt and discouraged and doesn’t respond, thereby confirming his wife’s image of him as a wall.
Confusion generated by the English language: our use of the word “feel” without actually expressing a feeling.
For example, in the sentence, “I feel I didn’t get a fair deal,” the words I feel could be more accurately replaced with “I think”.
“I feel unimportant to the people with whom I work.”
The word unimportant describes how I think others are evaluating me, rather than an actual feeling,
“I feel misunderstood.”
The word misunderstood indicates my assessment of the other person’s level of understanding rather than an actual feeling.
In this situation, I may be feeling anxious or annoyed or some other emotion.
What others say and do may be the stimulus, but never the cause, of our feelings.
On receiving a negative message, shine the light of consciousness on the other person’s feelings and needs as they are currently expressed.
For example ask, “Are you feeling hurt because you need more consideration for your preferences?”
Guilt trip: to attribute the responsibility for one’s own feelings to others.
Judgments of others are alienated expressions of our own unmet needs.
When we express our needs indirectly through the use of evaluations, interpretations, and images, others are likely to hear criticism.
And when people hear anything that sounds like criticism, they tend to invest their energy in self-defense or counterattack.
Talk about what you need rather than what’s wrong with someone.
We believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others.
We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy.
If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible and compelled to do something about it.
This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.
Taking responsibility for the feelings of others can be very detrimental to intimate relationships.
“I’m really scared to be in a relationship.”
We may continue to carry remnants of fear and guilt around having our own needs.
Respond to the needs of others out of compassion, never out of fear, guilt, or shame.
Your actions are therefore fulfilling to you, as well as to those who receive your efforts.
Accept full responsibility for our yown intentions and actions, but not for the feelings of others.
State clearly what you need in a way that communicates you are equally concerned that the needs of others be fulfilled.
You can never meet your own needs at the expense of others.
Vague language contributes to internal confusion.
Tell me what you would like me to do to give you the love you’re looking for.
Specify which thoughts you’d like them to share.
Ask people to reflect back your words.
What do you think about what I’ve said?
Make clear that you’re not testing their listening skills, but checking out whether you’ve expressed yourself clearly.
The best time to interrupt is when you’ve heard one word more than you want to hear.
The longer you wait, the harder it is to be civil when we do step in.
In India, when people have received the response they want in conversations they have initiated, they say “bas“ (pronounced “bus”).
This means, “You need not say more. I feel satisfied and am now ready to move on to something else.”
If you interpret noncompliance as rejection, your requests will be heard as demands.
To tell if it’s a demand or a request, observe what the speaker does if the request is not complied with.
It’s a request if the speaker then shows empathy toward the other person’s needs.
The most powerful way to communicate that you are making a genuine request is to empathize with people when they don’t agree to the request.
Show an empathic understanding of what prevents someone from doing what you asked.
Choosing to request rather than demand does not mean you give up when someone says no to your request.
It does mean that you don’t engage in persuasion until you have empathized with what’s preventing the other person from saying yes.
Empathy: emptying your mind and listening with your whole being.
Empathy with others occurs only when you have successfully shed all preconceived ideas and judgments about them.
Every living situation has, like a newborn child, a new face, that has never been before and will never come again.
Intellectual understanding blocks empathy.
No matter what words people use to express themselves, listen for their observations, feelings, needs, and requests.
Questions require us to sense what’s going on within other people, while inviting their corrections should we have sensed incorrectly.
When asking for information, first express your own feelings and needs.
Speakers expressing intensely emotional messages appreciate your reflecting these back to them.
If an aunt is repeating the story about how twenty years ago her husband deserted her and her two small children, we might interrupt by saying,
“So, Auntie, it sounds like you are still feeling hurt, wishing you’d been treated more fairly.”
People are not aware that empathy is often what they are needing.
To bring a conversation back to life: interrupt with empathy.
Conversations that are lifeless for the listener are equally so for the speaker.
Speakers prefer that listeners interrupt rather than pretend to listen.
“I really should give up smoking.”
“I really have to do something about exercising more.”
They keep saying what they “must” do and they keep resisting doing it.
Human beings were not meant to be slaves.
We were not meant to succumb to the dictates of should and have to, whether they come from outside or inside of ourselves.
If we do yield and submit to these demands, our actions arise from an energy that is devoid of life-giving joy.
Feelings, whether sadness, frustration, disappointment, fear, grief, or some other feeling:
We have been endowed by nature with these feelings for a purpose.
They mobilize us to pursue and fulfill what we need or value.
This is substantially different from the disconnection that is brought on by guilt, shame, and depression.
See how your behavior ran counter to your own needs and values.
When I behaved in the way which I now regret, what need of mine was I trying to meet?
Becoming conscious of both needs, I can imagine ways of behaving differently in similar situations and arriving at solutions more resourcefully than if I lose that consciousness in a sea of self-judgment.
Don’t do anything that isn’t play.
Be conscious of the life-enriching purpose behind your actions.
When the sole energy that motivates us is simply to make life wonderful for others and ourselves, then even hard work has an element of play in it.
(rather than out of fear, guilt, shame, duty, or obligation.)
Serve life better by focusing attention on what you are needing.
Replace the phrase
“I am angry because they… ”
“I am angry because I am needing… ”
Steps to expressing anger:
1. Stop. Breathe.
2. Identify our judgmental thoughts.
3. Connect with our needs.
4. Express our feelings and unmet needs.
“I should do something with my life. I’m wasting my education and talents.”
“When I spend as much time at home as I do without practicing my profession, I feel depressed and discouraged because I am needing the fulfillment I once had in my profession. Therefore, I now would like to find part-time work in my profession.”
Diagnoses of patients in mental hospitals depended more upon the school the psychiatrist had attended than the characteristics of the patients themselves.
We use positive feedback as a means to influence others.
The beauty of appreciation is spoiled when people begin to notice the lurking intent to get something out of them.
Use NVC to express appreciation, it is purely to celebrate, not to get something in return.
Our sole intention is to celebrate the way our lives have been enriched by others.
Saying “thank you” in NVC:
“This is what you did; this is what I feel; this is the need of mine that was met.”
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
Playing small doesn’t serve the world.
To help introduce the guests to each other, we were to write down a question, drop it in a box, and then take turns, each person drawing out a question and responding to it out loud.
I wrote this question:
“What appreciation might someone give you that would leave you jumping for joy?”
If I’m 98% perfect in anything I do, it’s the 2% I’ve messed up I’ll remember when I’m through.
He neglected to study for an exam, and resigned himself to turning in a blank piece of paper with his name at the top.
He was surprised when she later returned the test to him with a grade of 14 percent.
“What did I get 14 percent for?” he asked incredulously.
Anything that is worth doing is worth doing poorly.