What is Non-Violent Communication: Breakdown of Marshall Rosenberg’s Four-Step Approach

The term “nonviolent communication” is best known as a method of communication created and synthesized by the late psychologist Marshall Rosenberg.

In his The 4-Part NVC Proces, Rosenberg established four steps that could guide us to express our emotions clearly and without blaming or criticizing, and to empathetically receive what other people are conveying to us – without hearing blame or criticism

Relationships are hard but also essential for our growth. Anthony Giddins, a pioneer of the study of sociology, argued that being left in isolation is one of the most forceful punishments. 

Human interaction is essential for our well-being. However, just because we are articulating our thoughts verbally doesn’t mean we are communicating with each other effectively. The 4-step method created by Rosenberg gives us the tools to do that. In this article, I am breaking down the concept of non-violent communication and guiding you how to execute it in your own relationships.

1. Observe and recap

  • recapping what someone has said, without emotional input
  • not attaching any judgment or “story” to your response

i.e., ”I hear you say…” instead of “You just said…”.

2. Describe emotions, not opinions

  • talk feelings, not issues.
  • don`t state your opinions as facts
  • stay open for the other person`s point of view

i.e., expressing what are you feeling without translating your emotions into blame. For example: “I am feeling a bit neglected right now. Let`s work it out,” as opposed to “I am sick of you not finding time for this relationship. It`s over.”

3. Identify needs

Rosenberg found that human needs universally fall into one of a handful of categories, including connection, honesty, peace, play, physical well-being, a sense of meaning, and autonomy.

  • take a moment to identify what you need as opposed to what are you feeling alone

i.e., you might feel neglected, but if you dig deeper you may find that your unmet need is about connection and quality time with your partner. If you are the recipient of your partner`s unmet needs, on the other hand, commit to listening first instead of reacting impulsively and feeling blamed.

4. Make a request

  • clearly requesting that which would meet your spoken needs without demanding or nagging
  • empathetically receiving a request without being judgemental or unwilling to take it into consideration

i.e. “Would you be willing to create more time for intimacy?”- on the requesting end, and “I am setting the intention to create more conscious time for intimacy” on the receiving end.

If you would like to read more on this topic, review the related articles under this link (or scroll down the feed)

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