Within all the development the last few years have brought us, the exponential increase in the agility of the process, decision-making, and communication, another bias appears: is our communication healthy? Or, just like a computer, is the exchange of information getting less natural, sympathetic, and increasingly more unfriendly and artificial?
How can we maintain a high speed of communication and, at the same time, make sure that all social and emotional needs are being met? Can we transform individual and group feedback from being a work metric to a natural and spontaneous culture?
In the late 1960s, clinical psychologist Marshall Rosenberg began to develop psycholinguistic techniques to help with problems of racial integration in schools across the United States. Years later, the same technique was used in peacekeeping missions in war-torn regions such as Serbia, Croatia, Burundi, and Sri Lanka. This technique is now called “nonviolent communication”.
In simple words, the NVC is a reminder of how to express what is alive in us and to see what is alive in others. It is not a persuasion technique; it is a bidirectional connection based on harmony and mutual care.
Nonviolent communication is based on four principles: observation, feeling, needs and request.
Observation is everything that we see, hear, remember and imagine. The observation must be free of evaluation, that is, we must make sure that the observation does not contain any pre-judgments. For example, a co-worker delivers a report with many grammatical errors.
An evaluation-free observation:
“I saw at least five grammatical errors on two pages…”.
An observation containing evaluation:
“You have committed many grammatical errors in your report.”
The words many, few, lots, every, never, and similar ones are filled with pre-judgments, and we should avoid using them to prevent the listener from feeling attacked.
A feeling is how one feels about an observation. It is important to recognize that feeling is our responsibility, we are responsible for how we feel by action or, in this case, an observation. Using the feeling part on our previous example, we can say:
“When I see five grammatical errors on the first two pages, I feel disappointed.”
A need is everything that we demand or value to work or live better. If we look at ourselves introspectively, necessity is what triggers our feelings when we make an observation. We all have needs, without exception.
If we go back to our previous example, we now can look at ourselves and see our inner needs:
“When I see five grammar errors on the first two pages, I feel disappointed, because I value a professional image about our company.”
A request is a clear demand about what the other can do to fulfill our needs. We need to make sure that this request must be a “do that” request and not a “don’t do that” one.
As I indicated earlier, the NVC is not a persuasion technique; we want to ask if the person can accept our request by their own free will. Finally, our complete sentence would be:
“When I see five grammar errors on the first two pages, I feel disappointed. Because I value a professional image about our company. Would you like to review or ask for help before sending the report?”
Nonviolent communication is not simply a way to communicate with each other, but a way to look at ourselves and make sure we and the other person have everything, within our reach, to make our lives even more wonderful.
A good way to implement the NVC in your workspace is to make workshops, book clubs, and presentations on the subject. Putting unmet needs and feelings on cards and encourage people to express themselves as a group is another good option.
Featured Image from Freepik.