About Compassionate communication*Based on Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
What is Compassionate (Nonviolent) Communication?
Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication is a willingness to communicate with authenticity and an open heart.
So let’s try:
As I write this I feel excitement and I feel energised. I notice thoughts “will people read this?” “how will you, the reader, experience my writing?” “Will it sound authentic to you?” “Will it sound salesy?”
I am driven by needs to share my passion, to contribute to the well-being of others and to connect with like minded individuals also looking for a more honest and more compassionate way to communicate.
This paragraph is a sampling of Nonviolent Communication (NVC).
NVC has three components to it:
1. Self connection – being aware of what’s alive in me on the level of thoughts, feelings and needs (yearnings).
2. Authentic expression – expressing what is alive in me while taking responsibility for it (not implying that the other person is the cause of my thoughts, feelings and needs)
3. Empathic listening – listening for the feelings and needs alive in the other person as they speak
I employed the first two parts in my writing above. I connected – with my attention – to what is alive in me as I write this (part 1) and I shared that with you (part 2).
Now I’m curious what your experience is reading this and if we were in a conversation right now I would ask you (part 3).
This is communicating compassionately and authentically. It is a very honest way of interacting and a very caring one.
It is caring because we make space for our own experience and also for the experience of the other person we are in contact with and how we impact on one another.
We care for ourselves by authentically revealing what is true for us and not hiding it (due to shame or fear) or playing it down as if it’s not important or telling ourselves we’re being “needy”.
We care for the other person by openly inquiring into their experience and listening curiously for what feelings and needs are alive in them, even if they themselves aren’t aware of them.
In the workplace and at home
Nonviolent Communication is useful in any and every interaction we find ourselves in.
It is useful because when our communication is more honest then there is more trust in the relationship. When there is more trust in the relationship the relationship has improved for the better.
So Nonviolent Communication is a way to improve our relationships, in any context – professional or personal.
It can be employed in a heated argument with a boss or spouse or on a meditation cushion as I connect with myself.
What does NVC honesty look like?
One of the powers of NVC is its ability to reveal the deepest of honesty.
We might think that our honesty is to say “I think you’re so selfish!”. In my experience this is not being fully honest because underneath this judgement is a deeply human experience of feelings and needs that I am not sharing.
Underneath the thought “you are so selfish!” I might be feeling hurt, loneliness and resentment. And underneath these feelings I might be needing connection, to be seen and to be heard and beneath that, I might be needing to know that I can really trust.
This is the honesty that NVC has brought into my life. It is a deep and beautifully human honesty that connects me with what is really going on in me. This is the gift that NVC can offer all of us.
This type of honesty gives me a rich sense of self connection to my own authenticity and inner power and it also often leads to a compassionate connection between myself and the other person.
This type of human honesty of feelings and needs that I own as my own (and don’t blame the other person for) can be very disarming for the other person, allowing them to really hear me on a vulnerable level and giving them space to respond with whatever authenticity they would like to.
This can lead to incredibly connecting conversations and thus better relationships based on a mutual trust.
NVC empowers us to communicate consciously
Nonviolent communication is to communicate consciously, which is why it can be applied in the workplace as well as at home.
You choose the level of vulnerability that is appropriate for you. You choose the language that is appropriate for you.
NVC is not about being vulnerable and talking about your feelings and needs without consideration for the context or the other person. It is about considering the context (work, home) and the person as you go about creating the type of connection in the relationship that you want.
If you feel uncomfortable telling your boss that you feel anxious at work, then don’t. NVC would invite you to find another way of sharing your feelings and needs that feels right for you.
Perhaps you might prefer to tell them that you feel stressed because you’re needing more clarity over your tasks.
You choose how to employ it at work and how to use it with your child at home. It will give you the framework and the confidence to apply it in whatever context and in whatever way best serves you and the relationship.
So what are some benefits you can expect from learning NVC?
- Feeling more empowered in your communication – in the way you choose to speak and listen and therefore in the connection you are able to create with another person
- Deeper levels of self awareness – what is really motivating you? What is really going on inside of you? – leading to more self compassion and the ability to live more authentically as yourself in the world.
- Healthier relationships – when communication is focussed more on honestly expressing feelings and needs it tends to lead to more trust in the relationship. How important is trust in a relationship to you?
- More of a sense of freedom in your communication and less of a sense of obligation – NVC gives us the safety and skills to say a compassionate and powerful “no” when things aren’t right for us. We can set boundaries which are in tune with our needs.
What to expect from my courses?
I hope that I have been able to convey the essence of Nonviolent Communication in this writing and how it can positively impact your life. There are many possible next steps if you are interested in experiencing these benefits for yourself.
In my courses we not only learn the theory of NVC, we practice it together.
I find so much benefit and enjoyment in practising NVC. By practising we begin to change the way we communicate and begin to experience the vast benefits of it.
In every session I introduce a topic and a series of exercises that will allow you to experience NVC in action.
These exercises are designed to be enjoyed in a spirit of fun and exploration and in a safe and supportive space.
The group sizes are kept small so that intimacy and safety can be prioritised.
I’ll let some of my past students speak for themselves below. If you feel a resonance in you to learn more, I hope that you’ll follow that calling, be it in one of my courses or in any number of other ways.
I am grateful if you’ve read this far, it meets my needs for being heard very much. I truly yearn for a world of authenticity where each human being feels increasingly safe and free to be their unique selves.
Hope to see you soon
This course was insightful, practical and experiential. Mike did an amazing job not only as a facilitator and trainer, but models what NVC is about through his listening, actions and words. I wish I had attended this training 2 years prior, it would have been a game changer in my previous relationship.
This course provided me with tangible skills to support myself and my partner through a really challenging patch. Mike’s teaching style is so welcoming which creates space for participants to communicate vulnerably. Practicing NVC in a group setting is incredibly rewarding as you get to hear and share with others who are also interested in opening up. The whole process just feels inspiring – a regular highlight of my week!
I’ve been wanting to work on how I communicate and relate to other people for a long time. It was nice to have a framework to help break down effective communication into smaller parts. I enjoyed thinking about my needs and how when I’m feeling a negative emotion it’s often because a need isn’t being met. I loved sharing what’s alive in me – being honest and authentic. I felt very empowered when I did this.
A bit about me…
My training is in Nonviolent Communication and Mindfulness. I studied coach therapy with certified NVC trainer Arnina Kashtan. Coach Therapy is a form of therapy for using NVC to encourage healing, self-growth and transformation. I work with individuals and couples. I continue to study and expand my NVC knowledge. It is an unending journey that has enriched my life and continues to bring me back to myself, back home.
I’m a certified coach therapist supporting and guiding those desiring more compassion and connection to themselves and in their relationships. I weave together nonviolent communication and mindfulness.
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