am 5. Juli 1999
This is the easiest to follow 'how to' book that I've read.
I must say that the first time I composed a total NVC sentence in response to something my daughter had done, I was thrilled with the silence with which she responded. It was like she totally heard what I said.
The premises from which Rosenburg starts are that compassion is a basic human state and that the specific process we use in communicating can make all the difference in how our message is received. Rosenberg says, " When we use NVC in our interactions--with ourselves, with an other person, or in a group--we become grounded in our natural state of compassion. NVC is an approach that can be effectively applied at all levels of communication and in diverse situations from self-talk to international politics.
Rosenberg states that there is nothing new in the NVC process; that it is to remind us about what we already know about relating to each other and to show us how to live in a way that concretely manifests this knowledge. "Through its emphasis on deep listening--to ourselves as well as others--NVC fosters respect, attentiveness, and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart."
The NVC model for communications includes: observing, without judgement, actions that effect our well-being, stating our feelings as we observe the action, saying what needs, values, desires are connected to the feelings, and requesting the concrete actions we would like.
For most of us it is difficult to make observations of people and their behavior that is free of judgement, criticism or analysis. When we include evaluation in observations people often hear us as criticizing them. What's more if our internal language doesn't clearly distinguish between, on one hand, the values we hold and, on the other hand, the objective descriptions of other's behaviors' we're troubled by, even our internal self-talk creates a dyanmic that makes communication difficult and conflict likely.
For the second component of the model many people he suggests it's valuable to increase our vocabulary in the area of feelings and emotions, NOT to be came diagnositicians or (on the other hand) to become pools of emotions, but to use them to get connected with our needs, and to convey our needs to others in a way that our vulnerability makes it easier for others to hear us. In short, that, along with clearity what we want from others, clarity about where we're comming from emotinally enhances connections between people.
Next he suggests we need to learn about our own needs. We're usually all pretty good at thinking about what's wrong with others. So, for example, if we want tools to be put back, we may characterize our children as "lazy" for leaving them about.
The fourth component of the model is learning how to express what we would like in a way in which others are more likely to respond compassionately. (In other words -- how to make effective requests.) We also, he suggests, need tools to learn how to find out if our messages has been adequately heard.
Rosenberg's model is used both for expressing ourselves honestly and receiving empathetically from others. At the beginning of any interaction we always have the choice of receiving information or expressing our own.
If I'm mad at you I have the choice of telling you about my anger or listening to your experience of the situation. In receiving empathetically we still use the model and listen for the other persons observations, feelings, needs, and requests.
In the final chapters Rosenburg discusses the power of empathy, how to express anger fully, the use of protective force, using NVC when talking with ourselves and -- last but not least -- expressing appreciation in ways richer than we commonly do.
Rosenburg includes many songs, poems, stories, anecdotes and exercises in his work in order to illustrate his points. This makes his book enjoyable to read as well as a valuable communications course.
What I would like now is some people with which to practice this model. It's not hard to make up one sentence to try the model out, but to become facile enough to respond easily in this style would take practice, support and more practice.
Judy Nommik, Ph.D.