Nonviolent Communication

Posted on Fri 27 August 2021 in Leadership

What is Nonviolent Communication?

Nonviolent Communication(NVC) helps us communicate clearly by breaking down and identifying our needs and communicating them compassionately.


NVC can help reduce conflict towards others and ourselves. It can also help us to hear others out and recognise each other's needs and support acting more compassionately day to day.


At a high level, the steps involved are:


Be present and listen carefully to what the other person is saying. How is it affecting you? Just observe, don't evaluate.

  • Avoid quick immediate judgements like "You never sweep the floor"
  • Use "The last three times I asked you to sweep the floor, it wasn't done"


Express how you feel. Be specific, give narratives if you need to.

  • Avoid ambiguous statements like "I feel drained"


Identify the needs at the root of your feelings. This can take practice, the objective is to be able to sincerely express yourself directly.


Express clearly and specifically what you really want. Be specific in the action needed. Express yourself with positive language. Ask for something, don't frame the request as something to stop being done.

  • Avoid "You are always X"
  • Use language like "I would like…."


As a bonus, you can also use NVC when you are listening.

  • Observation-Give the person space to fully express their feelings.
  • Feeling-Don't jump to offer advice. Ask questions and help the other person evaluate and understand their feelings.
  • Needs-Use the power of reflection. Rephrase what the other person is saying back to them, sometimes what they communicate might not be what they actually need.
  • Request-Confirm and clarify the request after establishing what the need is. Ensure it's clearly understood.


There are also behaviours to be mindful of when practising NVC.

  • Take responsibility for your feelings. Your reaction to life events determines how you feel, not the event itself.
  • When reacting to conflict, avoid defensive/negative reactions, neither get to the root of the issue.
  • Talk through your own feelings and use the process to identify your emotional response and address the reasons for the conflict.
  • Use NVC to reduce self-judgement. Listen to your judgement and instead of being led by those feelings, ask yourself, "what unmet needs am I expressing here?"