In the article entitled, “Growth means change” my friend was struggling with communicating to her family her need for help around the house. She was concerned about upsetting them by changing the precedent she’d set by doing all the housework. In this article, we’ll discuss how to communicate our needs so as to ensure that all parties feel heard and empowered from the interaction.
Change is difficult adjustment for us all. With it comes fear of the unknown, and this fear unsettles us because it requires we learn new rules of engagement. To minimize the uncertainty that difficult communications often engender, requires we learn how to communicate our needs in a mutually respectful and compassionate way.
Recognizing and acquiring the necessary aspects of empathetic communication becomes important then. According to Marshall Rosenberg in his book “Nonviolent Communication” empathetic effective communication is based on these four main components of nonviolent communication:
· the concrete actions we observe that affect our well-being,
· how we feel in relation to what we observe,
· the needs, values, desires etc. that create our feelings,
· the concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives”(Rosenberg 7).
When applying this four part process, the participants need to express themselves honestly, and to openly and empathetically receive what is being said. That is they should be listening out for feelings and needs and avoid intellectualizing what they hear.
Communication, of any type, can be challenging but it becomes especially difficult when we communicate needs which may run contrary to another’s wishes, or when openly speaking our feelings. Therefore it is important that we value our needs so that others may also value them. Sometimes we face such uncomfortable communications fully prepared to deal with them and sometimes not. For this reason, we should also be aware to practice compassion towards ourselves.
Compassionate self talk is vitally important in effective nonviolent interpersonal communication. Violent self talk occurs when we “should” ourselves. So in my friend’s situation, if she is unprepared or unable to broach the subject right away, then she has to be careful not to speak violently towards herself. It is imperative that we recognize the more violently we communicate with ourselves, the more likely we are to lack empathy in our interpersonal communications.
Nonviolent communication is applicable in any situation in life as every person seeks to feel respected, heard and understood.
To learn more about nonviolent communication, check out these Youtube videos of Marshall Rosenberg explaining the Basics of Non Violent Communication.
Read “Nonviolent communication: A Language of life” in which Rosenberg also provides exercises to help identify the necessary aspects of compassionate communication.