Love & Relationships

How to Maintain Good Relationships With Nonviolent Communication

How to Maintain Good Relationships With Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent communication or NVC is a specific approach to communication. It is based on language skills that strengthen our ability to remain human, even under adverse conditions.

Nonviolent communication means understanding how the way you communicate can affect another person and working to improve that person. Have you ever stopped to think about how you talk to your family, friends, co-workers, and strangers?

Depending on the situation it is common to change the speech. At a family barbecue, we are more casual. We use slang and laugh more, as we feel comfortable around people we love and know well. In a work event, we maintain a more serious posture and seek to enrich our vocabulary.

The problem lies when the words and tones used to cause suffering or discomfort to others, transform simple situations into catastrophic ones. To be effective, verbal communication needs to contain a mix of clarity, assertiveness, and kindness.

What Is Nonviolent Communication?

It is an approach aimed at re-signifying speech, making it softer and more empathetic. Violence-free communication proposes a reflection on the way we communicate, including with people “whom the saint doesn’t hit”, a group that we generally don’t try to please.

It is born out of a state of compassion when there is no violence in the heart. In other words, when we are okay with ourselves and we don’t carry hurts or resentments, we can convey only good things to the world.

This premise is based on the thought that everyone has a certain degree of compassion, but as people interact and learn about the world, they develop defense mechanisms based on violence to survive. In this way, compassion is momentarily forgotten. This moment, however, can last for months or years.

To learn to communicate healthily with the people around us, we need to understand the origin of living “armed”. Only then will it be possible to replace this negative form of dialogue with a positive one.

Why Practice Nonviolent Communication?

Today, there are many discussions about what can and cannot be said. Many people are irritated by the idea of possible censorship because they believe that the criticism is about the personality, the inner self. Others blame listeners for being too sensitive or misinterpreting.

This reflection, however, is necessary simply because communication affects every aspect of our lives. It is impossible to live completely alone and not receive help or opportunities from others to grow, either personally or professionally. We depend on people for our survival.

So why can’t the way we communicate be cordial, polite, fun, and empathetic all the time?

Many bad situations can be avoided with only minimal effort in communication. Sometimes we offend a loved one and jeopardize a beautiful bond of friendship just by expressing ourselves inappropriately.

When we express ourselves with cohesion and lightness, we win the admiration, respect, and trust of everyone around us. That way:

  • Interpersonal relationships (family, friends) improve;
  • People want to be closer;
  • The corporate environment becomes more pleasant;
  • Colleagues are more willing to help and facilitate processes at work;
  • Professional connections are made stress-free.

Modifying Old Patterns

People repeat patterns of behavior learned at home. If in the family it is common to speak rudely, insult and make fun of others, the child learns this behavior and replicates it. The logic is the same when the environment is warm and full of kind words.

Nonviolent communication is not taught to us. We are rarely aware of the inattentive way we communicate with others. Maybe you hear a lot of comments about your coldness or rudeness, and you don’t know why.

Of course, there are cases of people who choose to be disrespectful for a hundred reasons, such as masking insecurities or arrogance. The focus of this article, however, is on you who want to change negative patterns and improve the way you communicate.

Self-knowledge is essential in this process to guide you to the points that need to be modified. For this, you need to be open to listening to the thoughts, criticisms, and suggestions of those who love you.

Above all, you must be prepared to reconnect with the compassion that is dormant within you.

Being compassionate is not the same as accepting insults. It is knowing how to prevent this type of situation, being sincere and empathetic, and responding appropriately to circumstances that cause sadness, frustration, or anger.

Another obstacle that prevents people interested in this approach from moving forward is the thought of “why change if everyone is going to stay the same?”. People stressed about their jobs, for example, don’t feel like smiling and being kind to people they contribute to a bad environment.

Ways to Practice Nonviolent Communication

Perhaps the champion of violent communication and verbal abuse complaints is the workplace. Self-centered bosses, individualistic colleagues, and demanding customers. There are dozens of social interactions a day and, understandably, stress arises when these are negative.

Similarly, the family environment can be the cause of great conflicts if we do not know how to deal with the criticisms and opinions of relatives. But we can’t forget about neighbors, acquaintances, friends of friends.

In short, in any social situation, there can be disagreements. We can’t walk away from everything and everyone, so it’s up to us to exercise nonviolent communication to relate well to everyone.

1. Understanding the Situation

We cannot control the actions of others, but we can change our reactions to them. Instead of screaming and fighting together when you find yourself at an impasse, separate reality from personal judgments.

Why is this person behaving like this? Is it a personal attack? Probably not. Take a deep breath and don’t let yourself be shaken. Analyze the run for what it is and not through the lens of your emotions.

If you don’t have this knowledge completely, put together the pieces of what you were able to catch in the air and create an assumption just for you. “My boss is an idiot!” consequently it becomes “My boss is having a bad day because situation X is very unpleasant. He is overworked, and cannot meet all of his commitments the way he would like. When he was rude to me, I was frustrated because it’s not my fault that his schedule is full.”

This justification combats judgment and the desire to insult the person and also makes it clear what our role is in this situation. We get emotional intelligence from the moment we stop resenting the other’s attitude, especially when it has nothing to do with us.

2. Mastery of Emotions

With the mastery of emotions, it is easy to find answers and solutions to reverse the conflict. If you get carried away by anger, you may end up saying what you shouldn’t. Mastering our reactions in the heat of the moment is one of the main benefits of practicing nonviolent communication.

Once you understand the nature of conflict, focus on your emotions. Name each of them, leaving nothing out. How did you feel? Don’t consider the other person’s attitude. Just think about your feelings. Saying “I’m upset” is different from “you did something that upset me”.

Expressing the first sentence is easier than the second and guarantees a more understanding reaction as there is no personal attack. In this way, you will be able to understand what you feel more rationally and you will know exactly when and how to start a conversation.

3. Identification of Needs

Dialogue happens because we need something, be it information, entertainment, satisfy curiosity, reporting a mistake, or asking for help. Once you are sure of your feelings, the next step is to analyze their needs. Was this fulfilled or not? What do you need for it to be?

When explaining why you were upset, replace “I’m upset because you were rude” with “I’m upset because I would like to be heard.” The desire to have this need met is expressed subtly. The key here is to be a little selfish and focus on what you need.

“I’m sad because you yelled at me” becomes “I’m sad because I’d like to have a quiet conversation about a certain topic” or “I’m sad because I’d like to be understood.”

4. Sincere Request

Be honest with yourself so you can be honest with others. Don’t hide your feelings by playing games. When you make requests, do so to improve your situation and that of the other person. Say “I want our relationship to be more sincere because I feel lost when I don’t get concrete answers.”

5. Bonus Tip: Empathize

Empathy is the foundation of this communicative approach. It helps fight misjudgments. Although each person is different, we go through similar experiences. Deep down, we want the same thing (happiness and peace) only in different formats.

The Author

Oladotun Olayemi

Dotun is a content enthusiast who specializes in first-in-class content, including finance, travel, crypto, blockchain, market, and business to educate and inform readers.