Communication as Foundation

The Relationship Between Nonviolent Communication and Transformation

It is widely accepted that communication is one of the most important factors in a relationship. How we communicate with others and the quality of the way we interact is a mirror of how we commune with and regard ourselves. Relationship, a sense of belonging, and connection are universal human yearnings. The new year is a perfect time to look at the ways in which we communicate, especially if we resolve ourselves towards deep change.

In Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, he describes Nonviolent Communication (NVC) as a process that “is founded on language and communication skills that strengthen our ability to remain human, even under trying conditions. It contains nothing new; all that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries. The intent is to remind us about what we already know–about how we humans were meant to relate to one another–and to assist in living in a way that concretely manifests this knowledge.”

Further, he states, “NVC guides us in reframing how we express ourselves and hear others. Instead of habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting. We are led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention.”

There are four essential components, that when offered and received, both ways, express NVC completely.
They are:
1) the concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being
2) how we feel in relation to what we observe
3) the needs, values, desires, etc. that create our feelings
4) the concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives

NVC is a practical, sustainable, and accessible way to communicate. It is applicable to all levels and types of communication in a variety of settings including intimate relationships, familial relationships, schools, organizations, institutions, counseling relationships, business negotiations, and conflicts of all kinds. Dr. Rosenberg writes, “When we use NVC in our interactions–with ourselves, with another person, or in a group–we become grounded in our natural state of compassion.”

Inherent in the NVC process is a commitment to self-awareness, being Present, and acknowledging and valuing interdependence with others. It is virtually impossible to engage in NVC without first committing to these things. Because of this, NVC has a rightful place in the field of Transformative Social Change, as the fundamental commitments for both are one in the same.

In addition, NVC is built on the premise that every person’s needs matter, that there is room for all of us to come to the table. Transformative social change also embraces that there is no enemy, that at our core, we are more alike than different.

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