Secrets of successful nonviolent communication

20th October, 2023 Par Faustin Djoufouet

We communicate every day, without necessarily thinking about it. However, it is far from being innate and can quickly become a source of tension or conflict, both in our private and professional lives. Fortunately, since the 60s, non-violent communication (NVC) has offered us a compass for constructive dialogue, with respect for everyone. ๐Ÿงญ Its concept? Express your needs and feelings with authenticity, while listening to others with empathy. It's the best form of couple communication.

Thanks to 10 simple but powerful key steps, NVC can literally transform our exchanges in depth. ๐Ÿ— By applying its principles on a daily basis, we can cultivate more serene and caring relationships.

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In this article, I reveal to you all the secrets of successful nonviolent communication. โœจ You will see, put NVC into practice is not that complicated! As long as you remain attentive to yourself and others.

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1. Express neutral observations

The first step in nonviolent communication is to simply express the context or factual situation that is problematic to us, without passing judgment.

For example, we can say: โ€œIt's 21 p.m. and the children haven't gone to bed yet.โ€ rather than โ€œYou have once again failed to get the children to bed on time!โ€. By reporting just the raw facts, as objectively as possible, we minimize the emotional burden. This allows dialogue to begin on a healthy basis, without the other person feeling attacked or hurt.

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This step requires distancing yourself and sticking to the factual elements. observable by all. It involves describing the situation as it is, without attributing the cause to the other.

By taking the time to express simple neutral facts, communication is defused. We create the conditions for a constructive discussion, in which everyone can express themselves while feeling listened to and respected.

2. Express your feelings

The second step of NVC is to clearly express your feelings about the situation. After reporting the context in a factual manner, it is a matter of sharing your feelings in the first person singular.

For example: โ€œWhen I see the mess in the house, I feel tired and discouraged.โ€

Favor real feelings (โ€œI'm sadโ€œ), rather than disguised negative thoughts (โ€œI feel ignoredโ€œ). The goal is to open your heart to promote connection and dialogue.

By expressing your emotional feelings authentically, you increase the chances of being heard and understood by others. This is a decisive step for successful nonviolent communication!

3. Name your needs ๐Ÿค

The third key step in NVC is to name the need(s) underlying the feelings expressed. For example: โ€œWhen you come home at 2 a.m. without warning, I feel worried and angry. I really need to feel safe and reassuredโ€.

This formulation in terms of universal needs (security, respect, autonomy, etc.) creates empathy and opens the door to the search for solutions.

Be careful not to make demands disguised as needs. The idea is to authentically express one's true, deep needs to promote understanding. It is a central pivot of nonviolent communication.

4. Formulate a positive request ๐Ÿ™

The final step of NVC is to clearly formulate a realistic request to meet your needs.

For example: โ€œTo feel safe, could you please notify me by message if you come home after 23 p.m.?โ€

The request must be positive (avoid โ€œstopโ€ฆโ€œ), feasible and precise. It leaves the other free to respond as they wish. If the initial request seems unrealistic, it is possible to propose alternatives. The main thing is to formulate a kind request that will help you fulfill your expressed need. ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ

This 4th step completes the process of healthy non-violent communication, in a spirit of openness and mutual understanding.

5. Listen actively ๐Ÿ‘‚

In NVC, communicating does not only consist of expressing oneself but also of listening to others. After expressing yourself, it is essential to welcome what the other person says to you without interrupting them. Show him that you are focused on what he is saying: sustained eye contact, head nods, open posture. Rephrase their ideas to show your understanding.

This listening is active because you really strive to understand the other person's message and feelings. It creates a climate of trust conducive to resolving the conflict respectfully.

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Without this empathetic listening and this concern to understand others, NVC cannot function optimally. So keep your ears open! ๐Ÿ‘‚

6. Express empathy

Empathy is at the heart of NVC. After actively listening to the other person, it is about clearly expressing that you have understood their feelings and needs.

For example: โ€œI understand that you felt hurt when I left early, because you needed us to spend this evening together.โ€ This recognition of the emotions and underlying need in the other is essential. It shows him that you put yourself in his place with kindness.

By showing empathy, you pave the way for real mutual understanding. The other person will feel more inclined to hear your point of view. Empathy softens hearts โค๏ธ and defuses conflicts. This is why it is essential for successful nonviolent communication.

7. Ask open-ended questions โ™พ

During a NVC dialogue, it is essential to ask open-ended questions to clarify the other's point of view if necessary. Favor questions starting with โ€œwhatโ€ฆโ€ or โ€œcan you tell me moreโ€ฆโ€ rather than questions closed with โ€œdoesโ€ฆโ€.

For example: โ€œWhat made you react like that?โ€ This invites the other to deepen their feelings with their own words.

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Avoid โ€œWhyโ€ which can put you on the defensive. Your goal is to deeply understand the message of your interlocutor. These kind questions, asked without judgment, encourage the opening of dialogue. They help avoid misunderstandings and misunderstandings for a successful NVC! โ˜ฎ๏ธ

8. Welcome emotions

In NVC, if strong emotions are expressed by the interlocutor, it is essential to welcome them calmly rather than repress them.

For example: โ€œI see that you are very angry, thatโ€™s normal in this kind of situation. If you wish, I will listen to you and let you express yourselfโ€. This kind acceptance of the other's feelings, however intense they may be, avoids reinforcing negative emotions. Develop your emotional intelligence.

By welcoming anger, fear or sadness in others without judgment, you invite them to share them with you and thus gently defuse them. ๐Ÿ’ฌ It is an empathetic attitude essential to avoid emotional escalation and allow peaceful communication.

9. Rephrase ๐ŸŽ™

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, it is advisable in NVC to reformulate the words of our interlocutor in our own words.

For example: โ€œIf I understand correctly, when I left early the other day, you felt abandoned and angry because you needed to spend time together. That's it ?" This repetition with synthesis ensures that we have understood the different aspects of the other's message: facts, feelings, needs. ๐Ÿ‘‚

By rephrasing this way, we show that we really care about understanding their point of view. It is a pillar of empathetic and respectful communication.

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10. Dare to be vulnerable ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ

In NVC, it is advisable to dare to express your weaknesses and doubts to get closer to others. For example: โ€œI admit that I'm having trouble managing my stress at the moment. I'm afraid of reacting badlyโ€.

Showing your vulnerability and your human side greatly promotes connection and conflict resolution. The other person will feel more inclined to support you if you share your difficulties. This defuses tensions.

Of course, you have to measure what you reveal about yourself. But daring a certain vulnerability creates trust and authenticity in the exchange.

The CNV invites us to communicate heart to heart by accepting our common fragilities. With practice, NVC can profoundly transform the way you communicate and strengthen your connections. Bet on empathy, listening and authenticity ! ๐Ÿ’Œ


Q: What is nonviolent communication (NVC)?

R: NVC is a process developed by Marshall Rosenberg to express one's needs and feelings in an empathetic way, without judgment or domination.

Q: What are the 4 pillars of NVC?

R: The 4 pillars are:

  1. Observation of facts without evaluation
  2. Identifying feelings
  3. Connection to needs
  4. Formulating a clear request

Q: How can you express your feelings constructively?

R: Use โ€œje" rather than "tuโ€ to talk about your feelings. Express a specific emotion rather than a vague criticism. Connect your feelings to your unmet needs.

Q: How to identify your real CNV needs?

R: Listen to what you are missing behind the feeling. Needs are timeless values โ€‹โ€‹โ€“ love, respect, security. They motivate our actions and requests.

Q: What pitfalls should you avoid when formulating requests?

R: Avoid disguised demands that force the other. Make positive, realistic and specific requests. Accept a refusal without requiring justification.

Q: How to receive messages from others in CNV?

R: Listen empathetically without interrupting. Rephrase to validate your understanding. Don't react defensively. Focus on the other person's feelings and needs.

Q: What are the benefits of NVC in a few words?

R: Better mutual understanding, peaceful resolution of conflicts, authentic self-expression, more fulfilling relationships.

Don't hesitate if you have any further questions!

author avatar
Faustin Djoufouet Teacher Researcher
I am a Doctor in Finance and an Expert in Islamic Finance. Business consultant, I am also a Teacher-Researcher at the High Institute of Commerce and Management, Bamenda of University. Group Founder Finance de Demain and author of several books and scientific articles.