Sunday, August 9, 2009

Nonviolent Communication

Why is it sometimes so hard to understand why people say or do what they do?

I've been reading about and studying Nonviolent Communication (NVC) for a few years. I'm taking a course right at now. It's a wonderful way to approach communication but it's not easy by any means. NVC teaches that all humans have basic universal needs (Connection, honesty, peace, play, physical well-being, meaning & autonomy) and all the actions we take are based on trying to get those needs met. Our feelings are the result of whether these needs are met or unmet.

Of course the interesting part is that even though we all share the same needs, we often use different strategies & take different actions to get those needs met. I believe that's one reason why it's so difficult to understand each other. A simple example: To get the basic need of nourishment met, some of us may choose to munch on a delicious fruit or salad and then experience feelings of satisfaction and happiness. We've met our need for food (physical well-being) But someone else with the same need for food might chow down on a jelly donut and fries. and they too may feel really happy and satisfied afterwards. Same need, different strategy for filling it. The donut eater may also have had a need for fun or spontaneity. And the fruit eater may have been filling a need for integrity. The difficult part comes in when the fruit eater meets the donut eater and feels intense judgement about the strategy he/she employed to get their needs met.

Nonviolent communication teaches us ways to communicate with each other as well as with ourselves so that we feel a connection even though we may not agree with the strategy employed. Do any of you have experience with NVC? If not check it out.