COMMON MISUNDERSTANDINGS OF
NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION (NVC)
Donal sharing a personal note on the subject
The many ways to misunderstand NVC have caused a lot of trouble for people rushing to put it to practice; the unfortunate others who they are non-consensually practicing on, as well as the reputation of NVC. So I'll share a small note on a big subject, with a hope that it will remind us all to proceed with caution, care and consciousness.
Most people don’t realise that NVC has evolved a LOT since Marshall Rosenberg created the form 50 years ago.
Many have learnt it by listening to his talks, reading his book or from other trainers who’ve learnt this way. In my experience, most of these don't really get it. A few understand the concepts; even fewer figure out how to ‘do it correctly’, but almost nobody really integrates the fundamental principles and has the shifts in consciousness that are required to truly practice it.
I have found this level of understanding more often harmful than helpful. I meet many people mistrustful of NVC because of others who have learnt this way, often imposing a strange way of talking on them without their agreement; speaking in a long-winded, text-book or mechanical way; faking empathy with rehearsed phrases or using the form of NVC to manipulate others to get what they want.
Practicing ‘NVC’ like this is a contradiction of the foundational principles, which encourage us to hold others’ needs with as much care as our own and to avoid notions of any ‘right’ way of doing anything. In fact, NVC moves us beyond all dichotomies of right and wrong; good and bad, should and shouldn’t etc, and we see everything anyone ever does as their best attempt to meet some need(s) in that moment.
By deeply integrating these, and other principles, we no longer need to judge and blame others or ourselves and so we develop genuine compassion, understanding and care… and from here, words that bring authentic connection and effective collaboration flow naturally.
This is what I focus on in my trainings. If you're interested to explore this more with me, check out the 'TRAININGS' tab, in particular the NVC foundation trainings: 'The Key to NVC' and 'Communicate to Connect'
Find out more about Nonviolent Communication on our resources pages