At Empathy Matters I offer communication trainings in London and one-to-one support based on what I have learned about Nonviolent Communication (NVC) from Marshall Rosenberg, Robert Gonzales, and numerous other NVC trainers. I especially enjoy collaborating with 5 Rhythms teachers and integrating the process with movement and dance.
What is Nonviolent Communication?
NVC, also known as and Compassionate Communication, is a practical and learnable process for relating to ourselves and others with understanding and compassion. It is about much more than simply the words we use.
When can it be helpful?
In all kinds of everyday situations we can find ourselves feeling annoyed, anxious or upset. We might get into arguments with our partner, kids, boss, an organisation, government, the world! Or sometimes we simply don’t get the quality of connection we would like in a particular relationship and there’s a sense that something is missing. Perhaps someone just doesn’t understand or appreciate us. Sometimes we are conflicted internally, not knowing which decision to make or wishing, too late, that we had done something differently. It could be that we’re having an attack of harsh self-talk.
How does NVC work?
NVC highlights the tendency in our times and culture to see the world through the lens of our thoughts which habitually consist of judgments, interpretations and comparisons, of ourselves and others. This makes us prone to being drawn into disconnection or conflict with those who have different views.
The process of NVC encourages an awareness of our thought patterns and a questioning attitude to their absolute truthfulness. It gives us a choice about believing all the thoughts we have about ourselves and others.
NVC offers us another lens through which to view life by drawing our attention to the values or needs of the heart - such as safety, recognition, autonomy - as the underlying motivation for every word and human behaviour. From this perspective we can see our own and each other’s humanity because heart-based values are common to us all. Through this lens, the possibility of a different quality of connection opens up.
What are the benefits?
NVC gives us practical tools for hearing and speaking increasingly from this needs perspective. As we experience being heard and understood, a warmth and ease can emerge where there was tension and conflict. And as we speak with clarity and openness we are empowered and uplifted. We discover a willingness to act in ways that respect everyone’s needs and values. In turn this frees us to enjoy fully our relationships and our life.
What skills can I develop?
Speaking: confidence to have difficult conversations that may otherwise be avoided; clarity about what I’d like and how to ask in a way I’m likely to be heard; creativity in finding solutions that are satisfying to everyone; giving supportive feedback; being honest without hurting or offending
Empathic listening: capacity to fully take in another’s experience, especially when they are in emotional, physical or mental pain; hearing the needs behind another’s judgments; staying grounded and open even when under attack; hearing what someone is saying ‘yes’ to, even when they express a ‘no’
Self empathy: awareness of the needs and values fuelling my feelings in each moment; finding a way back to liveliness when jaded; transforming anger, guilt and shame into life-serving wishes; being with my experience without judgment and with compassion; getting creative about fulfilling both my smallest hopes and wildest dreams