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  • Writer's pictureChrystina Braaten

How violent communication impacts our daily lives

The first book that I usually recommend to read is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD. There are three editions out and I have read the 2nd edition several times, and today I have just finished the 3rd edition. After finishing the 3rd edition I tend to like the 2nd edition better. Don’t get me wrong, the 3rd edition is a great explanation of how to communicate in a way that others can understand your feelings more effectively as well as address your needs so you will feel heard and acknowledged. However, I think the 3rd edition misses a key feature that is discussed in the 2nd edition. So today’s blog is going to focus on the beauty of nonviolent communication but also address what I felt was missing from this edition. Marshall Rosenberg has a way of teaching us to understand how our previous strategies of communicating with others are the cause of pain that we feel…it is not the other person. However, we tend to think that when someone else does something that causes us pain it is there fault. What is missing is the other person truly understanding what is happening for us and how we feel as well as what need we need to have met in order to no longer feel that pain. We have been conditioned to think that if we tell someone what they did wrong to hurt us then they are responsible for the pain they have caused us without realizing that the other person does not see the situation the same. In fact, the other person could see the situation that we hurt them first and our response is the one that it wrong. What we tend to do is judge a person for what they have done placing responsibly for how we feel on that person. When we talk to them and explain what happened in hopes that they hear our pain and apologize it ends up coming across as judgement, anger, and criticism.  Which continues the pain we feel as the other person rarely agrees with what transpires. They can get angry with us for blaming them for how we feel and can even cause confusion and outrage. If we follow the communication strategies outlined in the book we will have more success of having been heard by the other person and getting our goal achieved. Whatever our goal from the conversation is. I highly recommend you read the book as whatever write-up I provide here will not do the explanation of how to communicate nonviolently justice. However, I would like to highlight that a key to really using NVC is our own thinking. Our internal dialogue which we all have can be a detriment to our ability to communicate effectively with someone who has hurt us. When we know we want to tell someone how we feel we can go over so many scenarios in our head trying to think of all the different ways the other person is going to respond based on what and how we will express our thoughts and feelings. In every instance we are going to plan the conversations wrong in our heads. The overall outcome of anger, rage, frustration may be there, but the conversation will be “guessed” wrong. And all we will have done in planning this conversation is build up our emotional response to a point where we leave ourselves in a point of anxiety, defense, and any other stressful response. I like to refer to this as the stories we make up on our heads. We have already played out several “stories” or scenarios of the way the conversation could go which includes the other person’s responses that we are predicting. The stories become so real for us that we can even catch ourselves yelling outload as if the person is there and the conversation is actually taking place…even though it is a conversation with ourselves and we are yelling at the air. Which then means we are already ahead of the other person  in the conversation by the time we actually see them to talk. Then when we do finally met up with the person all the emotions of the conversation return and we begin communicating with them based on the stories we have made up in our heads and not the actual scenario we are about to go through. We then communicate from the place of judgement, criticism, and blame instead of from a place as Rosenberg describes that provides concrete actions that we have observe from the other person that has affect our well-being to how we feel in relation to that observation to communicate our needs, values, and desires with the concrete action we are requesting of the other person in order to enrich our lives. Boy does that sound like a mouthful!!!! In simple terms we do not blame the other person for how we feel but explain to them how the action they did affected how we felt because a specific need we have is not being met and they can meet that need by doing it in a different way. That person can then decide if it is something they can manage or not. In this we are clearly communicating our needs to others and how what they do affects our needs. That was a lot and might be confusing. So give the book a listen or read and see how your world changes.

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