Earlier I promised to read a couple of books. I finished one about Mind-Body Bridging earlier and now completed Marshall B. Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication.
This second one was maybe not as solid as the first book, but still very good value for both money and time spent. It also feels that MBB (Mind-Body Bridging) can be used perfectly to enable the use of NVC (Nonviolent communication), so the order I read the books turned out to be a good one.
NVC in a nutshell
Nonviolent communication is all about emphathizing with the human in the other person. You try to disregard what a person is thinking and try to connect to his/her (and your own!) needs instead. So if someone says he hates Jewish people, he might just be expressing a need for more financial security and venting it in the direction of stereotypically rich group people, or something.
NVC also has a nice existential streak. According to NVC, no feelings can be forced on anyone. Everything is always up to interpretation and the way you decide to react to the situation and the thing being said.
So "You make me mad when you come in late!" is not only destructive communication but also factually wrong. Broken down to NVC, the same statement would be something like:
"I feel angry when you come in late, because I have organized my timetables based on the agreed time and you being late looks to me like you don't respect that. I have a need to be respected, so can you please stick to the agreed time?"
You can't make anyone mad. You can just do something that goes against their needs: neglect them, say racistic things, show that you don't respect them, etc. The other person always has the option to do with the situation as they please.
Rosenberg generally writes a lot about destructive communication (communication that adds to the violence in the world, etc.) and how to avoid using that. Demands and judgements are basically always violent forms of communication that ethically and practically don't lead to good places. People usually just feel the need to defend themselves against attacks or to stand their ground against coercion. Using NVC, you should be able to bypass this kind of defensive measures and connect with the other people more directly.
"Clean your room!"
"Of course not!"
"I'd really need our apartment to be cleaner, as I get irritable and confused when everything looks chaotic. Could you clean your room?"
Or so the theory goes.
NVC in practice
The examples Rosenberg gives are pretty wild. Using NVC always results in sentences that are three times longer than any normal person ever uses. Still, disregarding all the awkwardish examples, the basic premises and the general theory still seems like pure gold.
The building blocks of NVC communication:
- Observe: listen, and just listen. Don't judge or analyze.
- Report: Let the other know what you have observed
- Express needs: Let the other know how it makes you feel and why (what needs are met/unmet)
- Request: let the other person know what you would prefer to happen.
"It looks to me like you are super-angry about this. I'm sad that this is so difficult for both of us. I feel that I'm also getting pretty cranky, as it's getting really late and I would like us both to get enough sleep before tomorrow, so could you please go to sleep already and stop hitting your sister with that hammer?"
The interesting bit is that this method can also be used on yourself. If you get annoyed about something, you can start observing your needs and what was unmet and probably while you are doing that, the immediate "I'll choke you to death" reaction has passed and you can respond in a more productive manner.
Note the obvious connection to MBB and defusing your requirements!
I haven't actually tried to apply NVC much at all (just finished the book), but I'm seriously going to. I'll write a post about NVC and MBB in action,so stay tuned.