The principles of Non-Violent Communication

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4 Keys to Connection is Key

feelings photo

1. Observations

We express ourselves in a way that invites others to hear us. We do this by separating observations from evaluations. We attempt to refrain from making evaluations, diagnosis, judgments, and criticisms of others. We try to express only what is said or done; equivalent to what a camera can see.

For example:

Evaluation: You are lazy

Observation: When I see that you have been watching TV for the last 4 hours...

2. Feelings

Feelings are a guidance system pointing out when our needs are met or when they are not met. When expressing a feeling, we actually insert a feeling word after the word "feel". (i.e. I feel sad.) We may have a habit of using the word "feel" without expressing a feeling. When we use the word "feel" followed by "like", "that", "I", "you", "he", "she", "they", "it", "as if", feelings are not usually expressed. As we increase our vocabulary of feelings and are able to express them, it can be easier to connect more deeply with others.

When we differentiate between thinking and internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism or blame/punishment, we take responsibility for our feelings.

For example:

Thought: I feel that you don't care for me.

Feeling: When I see that you have been watching TV for the last 4 hours, I feel sad.

3. Needs

We connect with the universal human needs in us that we are trying to meet when we are saying or doing something. By increasing our vocabulary of needs and bringing them into our conscious awareness, we are more able to express what we want and therefore increase the likelihood of getting our needs met.

We accept responsibility for our feelings by expressing needs that were met or not met. This can create an invitation for others to respond compassionately to our needs.

For example:

Not taking responsibility: You are neglecting me.

Expressing our needs: When I see that you have been watching TV for the last 4 hours, I feel sad because I have a need for support.

4. Requests

We have a habit of saying something without asking for what we want. We expect others to guess our needs and then get upset when they are our not met. Therefore after expressing our feelings and needs, it is important to make a request of ourselves or of the other. When making a request, make it specific, positive, doable and in the present moment.

For example:

Not specific: Can you help around the house?

A specific request: Would you be willing to wash the dishes after the football game tonight?

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One friend, one person who is truly understanding, who takes the trouble to listen to us as we consider our problems, can change our whole outlook on the work.

Elton Mayo,
behavioral scientist


The highest form of intelligence is the ability to observe without evaluating

Jiddu Krishnamurti (quoted in Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication, 2003a, p. 10)