Nonviolent Communication

Be honest. 

When was the last time you lashed out because of fear, guilt, shame, or blame?

Within the last 24 hours? 

Yeah, me too.

But recently I was reminded of the beautiful poetry of nonviolent communication (NVC), also known as compassionate communication. 

It’s all about creating human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving.

If that sounds a bit too new-agey, too fluffy, let me tell you that I first learned about nonviolent communication in an interpersonal communication class. 

That’s because nonviolent communication is powerful stuff for relationships.


The process of NVC involves four steps:

Step 1: Observations

What are the observable, indisputable facts?

Step 2: Feelings

How do the facts make you feel? What emotions come up for you?

Step 3: Needs

What unmet needs are triggered when these facts and feelings come together?

Step 4: Requests

What request can you make of your partner to prevent this situation from happening in the future? 

Let’s take a look at this in action:

Shaun comes home 25 minutes late, and I am upset. I’d LOVE to give him the cold shoulder or pout and stomp my feet, because the kids are hungry, and I’ve kept them from eating until he’s gotten home. This could easily destroy the rest of the night as we spiral into guilt and defensiveness and blame, but nonviolent, compassionate communication can save the evening!

Here’s how it goes:

Step 1: Observations

“Shaun, you said you were coming home at 6, and you walked in the door at 6:25 p.m.”

Step 2: Feelings

“When you come home more than 10 minutes late, I feel resentful and angry. More than that, I’m scared, because I don’t know if you got in an accident.”

Step 3: Needs

“I need to feel appreciated for working on dinner and timing everything for when you walk in the door. I need to feel you value my time and hard work. I need to have reasonable expectations about when you will be home. I need to feel safe about your commute.”

Step 4: Requests

“Next time you’re going to be 10 minutes late, can you have Siri send me a text saying you’re going to be late?”

The beauty of this tool is it leaves very little room for arguing. 

The facts are indisputable. (And if they’re disputable, dispute them until they’re clear.)

Your feelings are yours. There shouldn’t be any question about that.

Your needs are your needs. No one can tell you otherwise.

Your request should be reasonable. And if it’s not, make your conversation about what you both can do to meet your needs and to remedy the situation. 

How AWESOME would it be to find a solution that doesn’t come at the hands of coercion, threats, ultimatums, or punishments?

Nonviolent communication is ALL about getting what you want in a way you won't regret later. 

Still not sure? 

We can do it together inside the safe space of a coaching session if you need or want help learning and applying this technique.

To living with no regrets,