Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg [Book Summary – Review]

We interact with a variety of different people during a normal day; we interact with our loved ones, our friends, and so on. Sadly, though, often interactions end poorly. Unreasonable disputes often emerge and we end up leaving discussions feeling neglected or in misery. 

This is not the direction it ought to be, nor does it have to be, and precisely what this overview can assist you to do is to prevent these scenarios. Dig deeper into the idea of Nonviolent Communication to explore how you can use it to preserve your interactions in your daily life, and maybe even strengthen them. 

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Chapter 1 – Participating in alienating contact lacks sympathy. 

In every culture, interaction is a basic building block of daily life; we need to learn how to interact successfully with others if we want to act well in culture.

Sadly, we prefer to use vocabulary that cuts the conversation flow and, worse yet, hurts us and the individual of whom we talk.   

This life-alienating contact arises because, instead of building bridges, our words bring up walls. Calling a greedy friend to take the last slice of cake on a platter, for instance, is a condescending comment that causes defensiveness. Optionally, seeking a solution may be supported by a simple analysis of their motives.

In comparison, this form of vocabulary isolates us from our caring self, which renders us as people and cultures more aggressive. O.J. has studied the link between speech and abuse. Harvey, a psychology professor at the University of Colorado. He analyzed obscure pieces of world literature from diverse countries and searched for terms like “good” and “bad” that evaluated individuals.

The study showed that nations with more judgmental vocabulary have had a greater number of violent cases in their history. Harvey argued that the belief that “bad” people merit retribution, which leads to violent crimes, is compounded by communities that mark people as “good” or “bad.” 

But life-alienating interaction goes well beyond just “good” or “bad.” In fact, a variety of linguistic devices are featured in this method of communication that aid creates discrepancies between individuals. Moralistic judgment is one such system. 

Moralistic judgments, usually provocation, critique, and marks, mean that an entity who behaves contrary to your belief system is “wrongly” acting. 

Think of a daughter who tries to get out of the house of her parents; they think she’s not prepared and she’s going to put herself at risk. Yet they mark her as “self-centered” instead of voicing themselves empathetically and seeking to consider her perspective.

They should take time to recognize their interests, as well as those of their child, rather than labeling her “self-centered,” and have a respectful conversation about it. It could turn out that what parents are very concerned about is how much their daughter is going to miss them. They should bridge their differences by using respectful words, rather than alienating each other. 

However, this is only the start; the next sections will teach you exactly how to continue to interact with compassion.

Chapter 2 – A method to connect empathetically is Nonviolent Communication. 

It’s never easy to convey feelings, particularly when they are unpleasant. Fortunately, there is a strong means of saving us. 

It is called Nonviolent Communication (NVC), a method of connecting that makes it possible for us to communicate from the heart with others and ourselves. The word nonviolence is influenced by the Indian independence movement’s creator, Mahatma Gandhi, and relates to the normal state of our hearts: violence-free and compassionate. 

Communication refers to the formation of language by NVC as describing the connections that we have between ourselves and other individuals. Together, the two establish a conversational style that makes us more mindful of the expressions we use and how we react to others.

One of the key benefits of the NVC technique is that it lets us easily express our emotions. It does so by empowering us to critically examine, define our requirements, and interact with empathy. 

Just assume that you’ve got a sloppy son called Jim. When you see that now, for the third time, he left his items spattered around the living room floor, don’t instantly shout at him to pick them up; instead, begin by actually monitoring the circumstance.

Next, as you examine the circumstance, try to understand how you feel: are you fearful of Jim’s security? Or are you upset by having to repeat yourself over and over again? 

You might remember that you are annoyed and agitated after a period of self-questioning. You have to recognize the concerns that come from these emotions now. 

Your need could be to have a tidy home, for instance. But before you say something, consider how you can affect the other guy, but do so without upsetting them, to make your life easier. Form a frank, direct, and caring demand when you are prepared: 

“Jim, I feel annoyed when I see your things in the family room, and I like the spaces we inhabit to be tidier. When you’ve done playing, would you be able to move your stuff to your room?”  Next, let’s take a closer look at the NVC strategy’s observation chapter.

Chapter 3 – Distinct examination and assessment from each other. 

We’ve identified the correlation between effective interaction and evaluation, so now let’s look at how our analytical ability can be strengthened. 

Focus the attention first of all on being mindful of the current moment. Listen closely about what the other individual says and question yourself, how does that change my well-being? Interact the senses to communicate with the circumstance as soon as possible: contact, hearing, and noise.

The following step is to keep your points from being generalized, which can be achieved by applying observations to individual circumstances. Rather than saying “you often …” refer to a single moment in which something upsets you. You may find out, for instance, that your wife has once again neglected to grab pet food from the pet shop. 

It’s also necessary, though, to differentiate between examination and assessment. A philosopher from India, J. Krishnamurti claimed that the highest level of intellect is to observe without assessment. It may be hard for many to make the difference between perception and critique or judgment. 

The expression “My boss is always late,” is an assessment, whereas “My boss is not coming until 8:30 a.m.” is more precise. Likewise, “You barely take my advice,” is an assessment; a more precise observation would be: “You declined to consider it the prior three times I gave advice.” 

Both findings are precise, which, in turn, decreases the probability of a misinterpretation. What’s more, they are exempt from scrutiny, stopping the message receiver from being aggressive. 

Another way to improve assessment is to be conscious of marking. You’ll fail to react to a particular circumstance or person if you’re overwhelmed by names. For example, when debating a certain problem, having the presumption that someone is “liberal” or “conservative” may hinder your judgment; you’ve already presumed what this individual is thinking. 

Chapter 4 – Begin to articulate how you feel. 

We’ve now identified that the first stage of NVC is direct assessment. Yet to interact as easily as possible, we first need to understand how to truly articulate our own emotions. 

We can start by expressing our emotions correctly to accomplish this. This can be troublesome because we are very seldom required to evaluate our true feelings. The best way to describe ourselves is by being descriptive, particularly because sometimes the English language itself can be ambiguous. 

We also use the verb to feel without explicitly expressing our emotions, for instance. It is misleading to use a popular phrase such as “I feel a bit down” and fails to convey your actual emotional state. Taking the initiative to choose the right vocabulary, though, will enable you to more accurately explain the case. Using stronger adjectives and explaining the reasons why rather than saying “I feel a little down”. Do you feel sad, pitiful, or betrayed? By extending your language, the easiest way to start putting this into effect is. A limited range of vocabulary can allow you a broader range of thoughts from which to convey your emotions. 

This vagueness dilemma also relates to pronouns. It is vague to make the assertion “I feel like everybody is avoiding me” and does not provide details. Refer to your encounters with actual people and places to escape such uncertainty: “I asked my sister for help earlier today and she didn’t answer. At dinner tonight, the same situation occurred with my manager, which made me feel underappreciated.” Try to provide a timeline of events and explain the way you felt when they happened.  

Eventually, you’ll have to learn how your weakness can be expressed. Ignoring your inner emotions will produce unnecessary friction among peers, friends, and family; certain professional codes, like those of lawyers, engineers, and the military, also prohibit the display of insecurity as a form of failure. 

Use NVC to build bridges of contact rather than bottling up your emotions: listen, recognize your emotions and desires, and make specific requests. 

Chapter 5 – Own up your emotions.

At this stage, you should become more acquainted with NVC and, as a consequence, you should be capable of paying closer attention to your feelings. But you need to take responsibility for your emotions to improve your emotional reactions further. 

By first understanding your desires, you can achieve this by communicating with others. Although the behavior of another person may be the catalyst of our emotions, they are not the source. Instead, our answers decide how we feel about what we are taught by individuals. For instance, if anyone tells us, “You’re the most greedy person I’ve ever met!” we’ll instinctively answer negatively. 

But let’s examine four distinct possible ways to respond to this statement: 

First of all, you can react negatively to their sentences and think, “It’s all my mistake!” You struggle to evaluate the origin of the statement and address the complaints of the other person by accusing yourself. This could cause you to feel guilty, weak, or even distressed.

Second, it’s possible to become defensive or frustrated. Your answer may be, “That’s a lie! I have always acknowledged your demands!” You blame the person here and are once again failing to identify the fundamental issue. 

To vocalize your own emotions would be a good response: “I feel disappointed when you suggest I’m self-centered because I have been deliberately trying to satisfy your needs.” You will recognize your emotional reaction and address the causes behind the disagreement by this method of verbalization. 

Finally, and ideally, you can observe the other person’s emotions and demands. You may ask, “Do you think that I am self-centered because of the particular action I have taken? How can I give your demands further consideration?”

Chapter 6 – Learn to describe the desires at the center of emotions.

Let’s now examine another daunting subject for a clearer understanding of our reactions and feelings: defining the needs. The explanation is so challenging that individuals do not have enough experience to do it; rather, they slip into the game of guilt. 

The blame game is a classic catch-22 because our demands are generally not articulated, and so we accuse someone of not satisfying them. Without having clarified that we need the kitchen to be tidy, we can scold our spouses for being dirty because they may not meet our expectations of neatness, such as when they may leave unclean dishes in the sink. And when we accuse them, they are apt to feel bad and become defensive easily. 

There’s a way to fix the problem, and it starts as immediately as we can by demonstrating our demands. Sadly, it is hard, and even frightening, for all of us to communicate our real feelings. In fact, women often ignore their own interests because they have been raised to do so to take care of others. 

Yet we will all learn to be more straightforward. If you wish to be heard by others – and open their hearts to your desires – you just need to explain yourself explicitly. Actually, the more direct you are about your requirements, the easier it will be for other people to compassionately meet your needs. 

So, if your spouse leaves dirty dishes behind, tell him how you feel and suggest a solution that is possible for both of you: “After a busy day at work, it challenges me to have to clean dirty plates.  Before I come home, can you make sure they’re not dirty? Or maybe we can create a schedule and share the duties?”

You’ll give yourself a lot of needless suffering in the long term if you don’t express your desires directly. It is very crucial that, as soon as possible, you pay close attention to your own demands. 

And this is something that we’re going to take a better look at next: how can we communicate our desires honestly after we have defined them? 

Chapter 7 – To better fulfill your demands, describe what you would like from everyone else. 

We’ve completed three nonviolent communication components so far: examinations, feelings, and demands. Let’s proceed to NVC’s final phase: requests. How can we share our requests in a manner that will empathetically assist someone else reacts to us? 

To explain what you really desire, a request should be made explicit. And the simpler we are about what others would like, the more likely it is for us to get it. 

This suggests the formulation of applications in constructive terms. Positive communication is when you ask for things to be done, and when you ask someone to avoid doing something, that is a negative language. The latter can sometimes be uncertain and may result in confusion or ambiguity. 

For instance, she was told by a man upset with his partner always coming home late from work, “You spend a lot of time at work!”  She realized from this negative vocabulary that she had been working so much; she booked a kayaking holiday the next week. 

He preferred her to return home and spend time with him, not to spend fewer hours at work, but this is not what the spouse wanted. A smarter demand would be, “I want you to spend an extra one evening per week with me and the children.” 

Formulating demands into specific behavior is often critical so that everyone can realize what they need to do. 

Imagine a boss who needs his workers’ input, but knows that they are reluctant to step up. He might say, “I would like you to feel free to share with me your feelings.” Here, he expresses that he would like them to “feel free” to say what they want.

He doesn’t mention, though, which particular acts they might take to feel free. He should make a suggestion using the principles of the speech of positive action to assist them to do so: “I want you to inform me what I could do to make it much easier for you to open up and share your feelings with me.”

Chapter 8 – To decrease prejudiced self-talk, use NVC. 

As we’ve noticed, NVC is a great solution to enhance interactions with others; but it has the strength to go even further, assisting you to enhance your connection with yourself. 

The initial step to a healthier self-relationship is to know that you are not caring to yourself, and condescending self-talk is a key predictor of this behavior. This is the tone that condemns us for even the slightest errors in our minds. You may have noticed yourself say before, “I’m such a fool!”, “I can not believe that I did it again!” “or” How can I be so dumb?”

Now, aim to better understand and recognize the desires that drive your self-judgment instead of being stuck in this self-hating internal debate. The irony is that, like all other decisions, self-judgments are the result of unfulfilled desires. So, you must quit listening to it and center your mind on your unmet needs as you begin to hear condescending self-talk.

Assume, for instance, that you are about to deliver a presentation; you spill the strawberry yogurt that you were running to end before the class right before you left. In your brain, you can already hear the sound beginning: “How can I ruin it once more?” Stop and question yourself, rather than responding to this negative, “What unfulfilled desire am I voicing with this self-judgment?”

It could take a long time for you to work out this. But, finally, you might find that you have ignored your own need to provide for yourself by trying to help others by giving a fantastic lesson. You didn’t have time to feed yourself, so you picked a bowl of yogurt as an easy remedy, and then you poured it out. You should now substitute a caring comment for self-judgment, such as “It’s OK, next time you’ll pay closer attention to your own desires.”

When you can begin to truly interact with your unmet expectations, you can have the chance to “grieve” the reality that you are not flawless. Although you might resent never being able to achieve your perfect self-image, at least you won’t blame yourself for it anymore. 

Chapter 9 – You’ll hear the thoughts, needs, and demands of others as you listen compassionately. 

Up till now, we have concentrated on four NVC elements that are necessary for precise self-expression. Now, let’s examine how to adapt our listening skills to the same concepts. 

Firstly, we have to listen to compassionately if we want to truly understand another person. 

This means providing a place and time for someone so they can share their thoughts completely and strive to feel what they feel as well. 

Many individuals refuse to do this and give guidance, remedies, or affirmation instead. So when you’re attempting to solve the issue with the other guy, you’re still not even listening to their feelings. Listening gently and answering questions about their wants, thoughts, and demands are the right policy. They may need guidance or just a smile sometimes, but sometimes they may not even recognize themselves. 

That’s when it comes to the influence of thought and rephrasing. What people need is often not the same as what they think and feel they desire. You will help them appreciate what they are attempting to express by meditation and rephrasing. 

Your manager can say, for instance, “You’re not a great communicator.” This frustrates you because she’s never made complaints about this before. So you focus on her claim about you:” I’m not a good communicator. “This enables her to broaden on her statement, and she says, “Yes, yes, last week we skipped a shipment because nobody knew about it.”

You rephrase what she told back to her in your language to make sure you’ve heard: “We delayed shipment and none of the members of the team were informed of it.” This tells her that you’ve heard and, if appropriate, helps her to correct you. 

But afterward, she acknowledges what you said and answers, “Yes, we need to adjust the process so that everyone knows when a shipment is expected.” The use of NVC has made her see that she has an issue with the new system and not with you.

Chapter 10 – NVC is a versatile conflict-resolution mechanism. 

Almost no one in our daily lives will escape confrontation. Luckily, NVC’s teachings offer valuable methods for dispute settlement. So, follow these steps when sparks appear to fly next time: 

You need to create a human link first and foremost. This relation is the baseline from which the parties concerned will comprehend the thoughts and desires of each other.

The next goal is to make sure that an honest position arrives for the purpose of communicating. From the beginning, it has to be obvious that the aim is not to exploit the other party, but instead to build a secure space in which each side can communicate its needs. By analyzing and defining emotions, linking them to the desires of all sides, and constructing specific, feasible demands, this can be done. 

Such demands are then reviewed with the objective of achieving fulfillment, not compromise. Fulfillment is when the interests of all partners are completely satisfied. This contrasts sharply to reconciliation, where something is offered away by both sides and neither is fully fulfilled. 

Assume a fight between a couple overtaking their pet for a stroll, for instance. One partner says, “You never take out the dog”, and the other replies, “I always take out the dog!” They all understand that getting the dog out clashes with their respective plans after analyzing and understanding their emotions.

One spouse says, “In the mornings, I need you to take the dog on a walk because I always miss the subway.” The other spouse answers, “That’s alright with me. But it seems appropriate that on the weekends you take the dog out so that I can play golf.” They consent to their demands, and both parties end up happy.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Arun Gandhi Book Review

In our minds and our intimate relationships, the nonviolent dialogue is a systematic way of eliminating tension. We will eventually make the world a safer place by adding kindness into every sentence we say and listening to everybody’s needs, even our own. 

Acknowledge your wishes.

The next moment you feel frustrated, take a break, and doubt your anger’s origins. Question yourself, “Why am I furious?” rather than “Who am I mad at?” You will become conscious, by discussing the emotions at the source of your rage, that it is your response that makes you upset and not other people. Eventually, you will recover ownership of the situation and decide which of the criteria remains unmet.

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