Nonviolent communication: definition, virtues and keys to getting started

Nonviolent communication: definition, virtues and keys to getting started

What is nonviolent communication? What are its benefits ? How to get started? Elements of response with coach Amandine Ruas, trained in non-violent communication.

Nonviolent communication: definition

The process of non-violent communication (NVC) is, according to Amandine Ruas, “a way of communicating which ensures that during a verbal exchange with an interlocutor, we respect both the other and ourselves”. With others, it is about respecting their emotions, their needs and their requests. The same for us, we make sure to listen to our feelings, needs and expectations in the discussion. Indeed, “very often, we have the impression that communication must either promote our interests or be only listening, turned towards the other person, even if it means forgetting ourselves”, she notes. The objective of non-violent communication is, on the contrary, to integrate and respect the two interlocutors.

In what types of situations is this useful?

NVC (NonViolent Communication in English) can be beneficial in all types of exchanges, whether in the couple, at work, with our loved ones or in our education, with our children. The coach assures: “in every life situation, professional and personal, knowing how to communicate well is THE key that can change everything”. As the Cap Cnv Santé website reports, non-violent communication is also beneficial in the world of health (hospitals), for caregivers and their patients. At school, raising teachers’ awareness of NVC would also be a proven plus. Moreover, the Pasteur primary school in Behren-les Forbach, classified as a priority education zone, has become the first CNV school in public education, as reported by CNV formations, the French site for certified trainers from the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC).

CNV: what are the benefits?

This is a form of caring communication: the other feels respected, listened to, heard. We are in the kindness and empathyour interlocutor therefore does not feel judged. “In the relationship, there is also a real connection that takes place, a sort of heart to heart”, notes Amandine Ruas. Within the professional sphere, for example, it is no longer simply a question of a manager speaking to an employee, to his entire team or to two work colleagues, but to human beings, with feelings and needs, which really meet, without judgement who interferes. The benefits for yourself? “The CNV allows to make yourself heard better, to assert yourself and to respect yourself since we give voice to our needs and emotions”, estimates our expert. Communicating in a non-violent manner also has, according to her, the ability to make us more authentic : we can really be who we are, without hiding our emotions or what we feel. Morality, we are better in our relationships (less conflicts), because ultimately by taking care of our exchanges, we too will feel better, both with ourselves and in our connection to others. Win-win.

Non-violent communication is a magnificent path to self-knowledgenot just a tool to better communicate and improve relationships with others”, continues the specialist. Indeed, she explains, “by practicing this type of communication, we will also be more attentive to our own needs and feelings”. In this way, we will no longer expect others to satisfy our needs through their actions, we will have the keys to taking care of our own needs. It also constitutes a very beautiful tool to learn to assert yourself in lifeto face, whatever the situation: negotiation, difficulty saying no, managing conflicts or setting limits. Especially since at the same time, we build better quality relationships.

What about the violent communication?

Do we then have a tendency to communicate violently, without always realizing it? Yes, whether as parents or as a couple, we tend to communicate poorlyto transmit our messages incorrectly or that they do not have the desired reception. “Often people find the term non-violent communication scary and tell me that they don’t feel like they are communicating violently.”, observes the professional coach. Gold, we don’t necessarily realize that we are communicating in a violent way. Et, “we tend to associate the term violence with physical or verbal aggression. We imagine that it is necessarily linked to shouting or insults. But there are other ways of being violent”, she recalls. So, for example, when we say to the other: “calm down, stop attacking me”, it is a form of violence, we accuse the other of being an aggressor. The same goes for when we blame the other person for always being late. Or that he’s not trustworthy. The reproach is also violence. However, behind the criticism, there is always a need. In this case, that the other is on time, because our time must be respected and/or that we feel in a relationship of trust. “It’s all a question of languagechoice of words and turns of phrase used”, she emphasizes. The goal here: to move from reproach to expressing our needs.

Nonviolent communication: how to get started?

  • The first thing to properly integrate to put this communication process into practice according to our expert: realize that behind every feeling, emotion, there is a need to be satisfied. This is the first phase, the observation stage, without judgment. If we feel angry towards someone, it is because this anger reflects an unsatisfied need. For example, that of being able to establish more peaceful relationships with your child, your spouse, your colleague.
  • Next step : we identify what need is hidden behind the expression of our emotion. This involves working on yourself to learn to detect our emotions and needs. What we miss, what would make us feel better. “A mechanism to put in place every time we point out dissatisfaction”, suggests the coach. If it’s because he didn’t do the dishes, we probably need more support with daily tasks.
  • The formulation of the request and the choice of language. It is also important to realize that our words can be violent. And of change the way we get our messages across. Le secret : move from “you” to “I”. Rather than “you didn’t do that”, which sounds like a reproach, we prefer “I need that”. Be careful, according to Amandine Ruas, it is important not to confuse “I need” and “I would like that”. Because, “I would like” is a request, and no one is obliged to satisfy it. On the other hand, a need is universal, it is an undeniable fact. Our interlocutor has the right not to answer it, we cannot force the other to come home on time, but we have informed them, communicated, that we need it. Once the need has been expressed, we move on to formulating the request. It must be kind, include polite expressions (please), be precise and clear.
  • Listening, observation and empathy. Non-violent communication also implies that the other may not accept our request. For example, we can say to our child: I need help, I would like you to clean your room. He can then tell us that he is busy, that he is reading or playing. In this case, communicating also consists of adapt to others, demonstrate listening, observation and kindness. We agree that he should finish what he is doing and tidy up afterwards. That he can finish satisfying his need before setting out to satisfy ours. Our child will appreciate that we do not deny his need, and will then be more cooperative. In the professional context, during a meeting, a boss will be able to draw on the NVC tools to communicate more effectively with his employees. For example, after telling them a specific request, ask them what they would need to facilitate the completion of their tasks. And we adjust so that it best suits everyone.

Do you want to opt for NVC training? There are online or face-to-face training courses. Each training is divided into different modules. The first module consists of introducing you to the basics of the process of Communication NonViolente.

Good in his body, good in his head!

Girage vs Jackal: the NVC metaphor

In his page Introduction to nonviolent communication in 3 stepsthe psychotherapist Thomas D’Ansembourg evokes the giraffe metaphor imagined by Marshall Rosenberg. These are two characters (the giraffe and the jackal) used to illustrate his NVC method in the form of interacting puppets. “The jackal is a representation of the person who will reproach, criticize, attack the other, not express his needs correctly and expect the other to guess and fulfill them without having taken the time to connect with him “, recaps Amandine Ruas. In short, the jackal symbolizes one who communicates violently. On the contrary, the giraffe is the personification of one who communicates clearly and calmly. Who is able to express their needs and feelings and connect to those of others.