Nonviolent Communication, NVC

We often cause communication blocks when we blame other people or happenings for our own feelings.

NVC teaches us to take full responsibility for our own feelings so that we will understand that our own needs control our feelings. If one or more of our needs is fulfilled we experience so-called positive feelings and if one or more of our needs is not fulfilled we experience so-called negative feelings.

You understand this more effectively, when you realize that the same fact, the same observation we make, stimulate different feelings on different days.

I have once said this to my colleague: ”When I heard you swear and shout at me, I got delighted, because I it was so genuine and touching for me.” At that time we were in a training, in which my colleague played a role of a frustrated prisoner in a role-play. That same message to me in a different situation would certainly have stimulated irritation, maybe even anger, because of my need for respect.  

You might feel irritated, if the car in front of you is driven slower that you would like, because you are in a hurry. You might call the driver by names like Sunday driver or granny, instead of taking responsibility of your own feelings. You are annoyed because you have a need to keep your promise of being in time. On another day when you are not in such a hurry, you feel stressed if someone drives too close behind you and you call the driver unflattering names. You are irritated because you need security.

Awarness grows in communication step by step

In order to find the strategy, which fulfils our need, we have to be aware of the need first. The process of becoming conscious of our needs may be difficult – NVC helps there. Another person can try to guess your feelings and needs and in that way help you to become conscious of them. If the guesser guesses “right” or “wrong” has no meaning. All guessing of feelings and needs is helpful when you support someone in his/her process of figuring out his/her needs.

For example if the wife suggests to her spouse they would spend Friday night at home and the husband doesn’t answer anything for a long time, might the wife ask instead of nagging: “Are you annoyed, because you had already arranged something else and would not want to cancel it?” The wife might find out that instead of being annoyed the husband was worried how his wife would react to this fact, because he wants to be sure that this wouldn’t lead to an argument.

NVC-process includes 4 steps; observation, feeling, need and request.


Observation, the facts: I see my child hitting her little sister

Feeling or emotion: sadness

Needs: safety and non-violence in our family

Request or strategy, which would meet the need: When I see you hitting your little sister, I get sad, because I want everyone to be safe in our home. Would it be OK with you that the next time you think of hitting, you ask for what you want instead?

Without using NVC in that example, it could happen for instance that I would start to blame my child of being naughty and evil. The child could then maybe defend himself and/or blame his little sister for the whole thing.

NVC-process is a clear, honest and logical way of communicating when you want to create and keep the connection to another person. It has proven efficient especially when you are in a situation, in which you sense the possibility to a conflict.

More information about NVC, see our links page