Knowing our needs is one of the most profound abilities we can learn and is applicable to more than just this communication style. Knowing our needs provides us with a grounded sense of self-awareness, it helps us set appropriate boundaries, and is the foundation from which we make requests from others. NVC requires us to ask the people in our lives to meet our needs so that we begin to feel content and supported.
There are 4 steps to nonviolent communication for both the giver and the receiver.
Honestly giving without blame or criticism
1. Observation: The concrete action I am observing, remembering, or imagining that is or is not contributing to my well-being
2. Feelings: How I am feeling in relation to the action
3. Needs: The need, desire, wish, value, or thoughts creating my feelings
4. Action: The concrete action I would like taken
Empathically receiving without hearing blame or criticism
1. Observation: The concrete action that you are observing, remembering, or imagining that is or is not contributing to your well-being
2. Feelings: How you are feeling in relation to my action
3. Needs: The need, desire, wish, value, or thoughts creating your feelings
4. Action: The concrete action you would like taken
The giver is asked to honestly look at what they are feeling, needing, and why they are making their request. Requests are a personal preference which is different from a demand – demands come with consequences or expectations. The giver has to be willing to negotiate their request.
The receiver is asked to listen with empathy, without hearing blame or criticism and then to repeat what they heard from the giver, confirming or clarifying until both are on the same page.
Here are two PDF files to support you in enhancing your NVC skills. The first will help you expand your vocabulary with Feeling Language and the second is a Needs Inventory to support you in defining your needs.