I read Nonviolent Communication, finally, while J and I were on vacation. I’ve seen it touted among the poly community for forever as a staple in communication skill building. Reading the book gave me more insight and awareness into the structure that the model articulates, and I feel pretty invested in cultivating my ability to practice it.
Essentially, NVC asks you to:
Communicate what you observe without using judgment words
Communicate how you feel
Communicate what you need or value
And, make a specific request without making a demand
Here is an example:
When I saw you come home last night drunk, I felt worried about you because I value your safety. Would you be willing to call me or a cab next time you go out drinking?
When I didn’t receive a phone call or text from you last night when you said you would, I felt lonely and disconnected because I value growing our connection. Would you be willing to share information about why I didn’t hear from you?
I think this communication can be anxiety provoking and highly vulnerable. Many of us are quite used to blaming and shaming others, and keeping ourselves in high esteem as if our actions and intentions can rarely be called into question. It can also feel much easier to say “it’s your fault you feel shitty. I did everything right.” This method both asks us to own how our feelings derive from values and needs while also listening to how we do or do not understand, empathize with, and honor the values and needs of those we are relating to. It also emphasizes creating authentic communication and actually tuning into the people we’re talking to- it’s not about being “right” or trying to make someone feel bad or guilty for how we feel.
If you’re looking to take your communication and relationships to a deeer level, I can’t recommend this book and practice enough.