USING NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION:
Marshall Rosenberg's Basic Rubric:
"When you did (observable behavior), I thought (my interpretation), and THEREFORE I felt (my internal feeling state). I want (a specific action as a step in resolving the situation)."
In Interpersonal Focusing: This Flower is Beautiful TO ME Week One, I contrasted domination through "objective" statement of the "facts" or "blaming" through locating causation in the Other with empowering communication through "owning" and sharing one's own more vulnerable subjective experiencing of situations.
In Interpersonal Felt Sensing: Exercise
, I invited you to look for the "intuitive feel," the experience in your own body, of being in up to five different "unresolved" interpersonal situations.
Today, I ask you to take these same five experiences and try formulating them in the Non-Violent Communication
(NVC) paradigm of Marshall Rosenberg.
Marshall Rosenberg has been teaching his model for Non-Violent Communication since at least the 1970's, when many of us involved in the original Changes Listening/Focusing Community also studied with him. He has refined his model over the years and published numerous books
for applying NVC to relationships, parenting, and conflict resolution in organizations and the global community. But I am going to lay out his paradigm in the simple terms which have stuck with me for over thirty years.
A. Observable Behavior
The observable behavior of the other which led you to have an interpersonal "reaction." This must be as specific, concrete, non-interpreted, and observable as you can make it. E.g., anyone could see the same behavior, although "interpretation" of it might vary:
- "When you clinched up your teeth and shook your fist..."
- "When you arrived one hour after our appointed time..."
- "When you sat down next to Jane..."
- "When you handed in your report two days early..."
- When you borrowed $100 dollars from me and had not repaid it by Jan.1..."
B. Your Interpretation
Your interpretation of the observable behavior: What you thought:
- "...I thought you were angry at me..."
- "...I thought you didn't care about me, didn't respect my time..."
- "...I thought you liked her more than me..."
- "...I thought you were trying to earn brownie points..."
- "...I thought you were never going to pay it back..."
C. Your Feeling "Reaction" To Your Interpretation
The feeling or "felt sense" that came inside of your body because of this interpretation:
- "...and THEREFORE I felt afraid..."
- "...and THEREFORE I felt angry..."
- "...and THEREFORE I felt jealous and insecure..."
- "...and THEREFORE I felt fearful and like fighting back..."
- "...and THEREFORE I felt insecure and angry..."
(see List of feeling words on NVC website for help)
D. Your Want or Need in This Situation
A specific action step you "want" to resolve the situation:
- "I would like you to tell me if I did something specific to anger you."
- "I would like you to tell me how you do feel about me and what caused you to be late."
- "I want you to clarify how you feel about Jane and how you feel about me."
- "I want you to tell me your own thinking about handing the report in early."
- "I want you to tell me when and if you are planning to pay the money back."
(see List of Wants/Needs on NVC website for help --- actually, this step is more complicated, a deeper acknowledgment of your Core Beliefs and related Needs/Wants)
"Thinking" Masquerading as "Feeling"
I ask you to take your own specific unresolved interpersonal situations from last week's Interpersonal Felt Sensing Exercise and try to formulate a sentence for each using Rosenberg's rubric ---
"When you (observable behavior)...I thought (interpretation)...and THEREFORE I felt (internal feeling state)...I want (specific action)."
Please notice especially how often "thinking," ("interpretation," "blaming the other") masquerades as "feeling" (an actual internal emotional experience, like sadness, anger, joy, elation, nervousness, fear, greed):
"I feel like you don't care about me" = "I think you don't care about me, and therefore I feel..."
"I feel like you are angry with me" = "I observe your clinched teeth, shaking fist, and I think you are angry with me, so I feel frightened..."
"I feel oppressed" = "I think I am being oppressed by you, and I feel small, paralyzed, angry..."
"I feel manipulated" = "I think you are manipulating me, and I feel anxious, powerless, angry..."
Next week I will tell why I prefer an Interpersonal Listening/Focusing exchange to pure use of Non-Violent Communication for problem resolution.
And, I am not an expert in NVC, especially the latest refinements (you might see Leona's blogs on NVC
for a more thorough version of the exercise above , including the relationship between Thinking Interpretations, Core Beliefs, and unmet Needs/Wants, and many other applications of NVC exercises to real life situations). But you will learn a lot if you just try the simple rubric ---
"When you (specific behavior), I thought (interpretation)...and THEREFORE I felt...I want..."
- What were the specific behaviors I observed which I then interpreted?
- What might be some alternate interpretations for those behaviors?
- What do I learn about myself from my interpretations?
- Can I see how I might use "blaming" interpretations of the other's behavior as a mask over "owning" and sharing my more vulnerable feelings and needs?
- How do my Core Beliefs about myself and my Wants/Needs color my interpersonal "reactions" and "interpretations"?