Steps to Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication very highly, even offering regular workshops with Shantigarbha (details here).  This week, we were lucky to have expert Deepak Chopra share an article with us on this very important language of life:


Nonviolent CommunicationWe all experience situations and circumstances in our lives in which someone crosses some personal boundary, triggering a strong emotional response. I have found that conscious communication helps express these boundaries and forge new connections. This exercise is derived from Marshall Rosenberg’s enriching book Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life.


There are four basic steps to conscious communication, which involve four questions you ask yourself whenever you find yourself becoming defensive. When someone pushes your buttons, it’s tempting to want to push back. But that is not an optimal response–nor is it productive, it wastes valuable personal energy, and it creates more turbulence in the world. For this exercise, think of a recent situation when something irritated or upset you in some way. Keeping that experience in mind, follow these four steps:


1.  Separate Observation from Evaluation

Define what actually happened, instead of relying on your interpretation of what happened. Ask yourself: What actually occurred? What did I see and hear?

Example: “You don’t love me anymore.” vs. “You don’t kiss me when you come home from work anymore.”

The first statement is the interpretation or evaluation. Whenever you find yourself reacting emotionally, step back and observe. Observations are empowering because they allow us to recognize how much of our response is based on interpretation, which in turn allows us to change our patterns of responding to the actions of others.



2.  Define your Feelings

Think to yourself: What am I feeling?

As you describe your feelings, use language that reflects only the feelings you are responsible for and avoid words that victimize you. For example, you might feel appreciated, angry, anxious, bored, joyful, lazy, or lonely. Avoid words that require another person to “make” you feel a certain way. You cannot feel “attacked” by yourself – that emotion is in response to another.

For example, avoid words like abandoned, manipulated, misunderstood, rejected, and unsupported. Using these words to identify emotions gives others power over those emotions. When this happens we tend to attract those who evoke those feelings.


3.  State your Needs Clearly

Ask yourself “What do I need in this situation?” You wouldn’t be having strong feelings if all your needs were being met. Identify the need as specifically as possible.

Example: “I need to feel less alone. Why? I don’t have close friends–I need to find some friends and develop relationships.”


You cannot ask another person to make you feel loved – that is beyond anyone’s capability. You can ask that person to go to a movie with you though!


4.  Ask. Don’t Demand

Use positive language when making requests: ask what you are requesting, not what you are not requesting.

When others hear a demand from us, they see two options: submit or rebel. How do you know if it’s a demand or request? Observe what the speaker does if the request is not complied with. It’s a demand if the speaker then criticizes, judges, or lays a guilt-trip. It’s a request if the speaker then shows empathy toward the other person’s needs.


These steps are helpful in all situations, but they are especially helpful if there’s a conflict. Step back and choose conscious communication: What do you observe? How does it make you feel? Determine what you need. Make a request.


Love, Deepak


(Originally sent as a letter by Deepak to his website subscribers)


On the 18th and 19th October at The Relaxation Centre we are offering the much sought after Nonviolent Communication Foundation Training with Shantigarbha.  For more information and to book, click here or call us on 0117 9706616.  On 22nd and 23rd November, Shantigarbha returns for the Two Day Intermediate Transforming Anger Training – find out more here



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