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Communication Quick Facts

  1. Compassionate Communication in business or NVC may be a powerful tool to understand others and expressing ourselves by identifying two steps and four concepts in our conversation.

  2. You will learn powerful listening and expressing tools. Your communications will have more depth and be calmer. NVC may be used in many levels of communication: individual, couples, families, groups, companies, and international relations.

  3. The founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication is Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. Dr. Rosenberg continues to travel the world facilitating workshops and speaking.  He was a student of Carl Rogers, a student of Maslow's needs heirarchy

  4. To learn NVC may be challenging. NVC tools will bring a calm to your life and make difficult conversations with others easier and satisfying. The NVC language you will learn may seem stilted at first, yet over time and with practice, it will become natural and actually fun to use. Try to be patient and look at learning NVC like a new language or skill. We are breaking old ineffective, maybe violent conversation habits. It takes time, education and practice to break old habits. Communicating deeply with another using NVC skills is an exhilarating experience and worth the effort.

  5. Fix-it techniques such as sympathy to another, advice giving, telling our own stories may disconnect a conversation. Many times the other person just wants to be listened to. Using guilt, shame, demands or fear to express our intention may also develop emotionally violent or life alienating conversations. These techniques may be called "tragic expressions of our needs". NVC offers more powerful and life enriching options to have our needs or values met while valuing another person's needs.

  6. The two steps of NVC are expressing honestly and empathy (deep understanding). The four concepts used in these 2 steps are observation, feelings, needs, and requests (strategies). The four concepts may be called OFNR.

The 2 Parts:

    1. Expressing is accomplished with honesty and clarity. You do not have to be "nice" to express yourself, just honest. It is important to immediately add a request when expressing or it may sound like guilt, a demand, shame or fear.
    2. Empathy is a deep understanding of another. It is not based on "feeling the feelings of another". NVC is not therapy, yet solutions to one's challenges may be resolved quickly and effectively.

The Four Concepts:

1.      Observation: What a person sees or hears. If others were present they would see or hear it also (Ex. When I see you open the door or when you said "you're not leaving"). Be careful not to mix an evaluation or judgment in your observation.

2.      Feelings: Internal physical sensing such as feeling hungry, sad, or lonely. Feelings are developed by needs being met or unmet. Feelings are not evaluations such as I feel as if you don't like me or I feel that you should ________. Yes, we are responsible for our own feelings meaning other people are responsible for their own feelings. Feelings are developed from needs being met or unmet.

3.      Needs: All humans share the same needs such as integrity, rest, food, companionship and many more at varying degrees. Needs are general, abstract and nourish our lives. NVC is based on identifying needs in a conversation for connection since we all have the same needs in common.

4.      Requests: To facilitate meeting our needs we use requests or strategies to do so. Requests are specific, positive, do able now, and clear. Such as "Would you be willing to arrive 15 minutes before the start of the meeting time" instead of "Would you not be late to the meeting."

The NVC Sentence ( Classical or Basic )

Note: In expressing or listening, try not use the word "feeling" in the sentence and substitute other words such as want or value for the word "need". This is more advanced and may be called Street Giraffe because it sounds more natural.

Expression Example need unmet: (Observation) When I see you hit John, I am (feeling) upset because I (Need) want (need) compassion and safety for others. (Request) Would you be willing to stop hitting John (or Would you tell me the reason you are hitting John?)

Expression Example need met: (Observation) When you switched jobs with me this Sunday, (feeling) I am grateful because I value (need) spending time with my family. (Request Optional with gratitude)

Listening or Empathy Example: (Observation) When I hear you say you want more friends, (feeling) are you (feeling) lonely, because you want (need) connection with others??? (request) Would you be willing to hear some ideas that I have?

Important Hints:

  • When expressing, a request is very important after saying the need, or the statement may sound like a demand.
  • For deeper listening and understanding of another, stay with guessing the feelings/needs and delay going to a request/strategy until the person feels understood.
  • Notice that the listening example uses questions or guesses. We try not to tell the other what they feel or are needing, we guess. Usually if the guess is not correct the speaker will say the correct feeling/need.
  • Click on the links for help identifying needs or feelings,

Two Parts to Compassionate Communication

The 4 Components:
(See below this table for descriptions.)

A: Expressing
(Speaking to Another)

B: Empathy
(Listening, Understanding)

1: Observation

1: When I see/hear/...

1: When you see/hear...

2: Feeling

2: I (feel) frustrated

2: Are you (feeling) ( frustrated )?

3: Need

3: Because I (need) (want, value, wish)__________

3: Because you (need) (want, value, wish)__________?

4: Request

4: Would you be willing...?

4: Would you like ___________?

Expression Example
need unmet:
(Observation) When I see you hit John, (feeling) I feel confused and sad (Need) because I wish for (need) compassion and safety for others. (Request) Would you be willing to stop hitting John (or Would you tell me the reason you are hitting John?)

Expression Example need met: (Observation) When you switched jobs with me this Sunday, (feeling) I feel grateful (Need) because I value (need) spending time with my family. (Request Optional)

Listening Example: (Observation) When I hear you say you want more friends, (feeling) are you feeling lonely (Need) because you want (need) connection with others. (request) Are you wanting to hear some ideas that I have?

The four concepts (Observation, feelings, needs, and requests) will be shortened to OFNR in this document.

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