Wednesday, August 6

Psychology Book Club: Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Marshall Rosenberg
Nonviolent Communication:
A Language of Life
Marshall B. Rosenberg

My friend Deb B. called one day, excited to share something she'd learned. We'd both been struggling to find resources for dealing with difficult people in our lives. "I've found it!," she said. "You've got to read this book!"

She was right. Reading Rosenberg is a life-changer. My biggest regret: This information's been around for decades, and it took both of us half a lifetime -- and too much unnecessary heartbreak -- to find it.

The basic message of nonviolent communication is that communicating by coercion -- the "normal" for most people -- is destructive, and does violence to relationships and to the community at large. Coercive tactics run the gamut from simmering resentment to "You should..." to "Do it or I'll kill you." There's a better way. Nonviolent communication seeks to hear needs, find understanding, and generate ready agreement.

One-line take-home message: 
"I see...; I feel...; I need...; Would you..." 
(For example: "I see your dishes on the counter. I feel frustrated because I need a tidy home. Would you be willing to straighten up the kitchen?")

Jackal language (hearing everything through ears trained to view people as basically evil); giraffe language (hearing through ears trained to hear words filtered through the heart).

  • There are no "have" tos. There are only choices. 
  • Anything done at gunpoint is resented; somebody will pay in the end.
  • Every behavior, no matter how annoying, despicable or even criminal it appears from the outside, is done to fill a need. And that need is real, and human, and deeply felt. 

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