Nonviolent Communication

Most of the time, we may not be aware that we are expressing ourselves incorrectly. While we think our way of expression is correct, we can be a heartbreaker when we make mistakes. We are so used to the violence of language that we either do not realize that it is wrong, or even if we are aware, we do not know how to change it. Since our childhood, our communication language has been shaped by the environment we grew up in and the events we are affected by. Expressing ourselves incorrectly can harm us and our environment. While we want to open a door, our communication language can close that door. Our conversations with ourselves show our perspective on ourselves. Rosenberg (2004), In his book Nonviolent Communication, explains what our communication patterns mean, how we can correct them, how we can express ourselves, and how we can understand each other better.

Oct 21, 2023 - 20:07
Oct 21, 2023 - 23:02
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Nonviolent Communication
Nonviolent Communication

Violent communication is a form of communication in which there is implicit or explicit judgment rather than compassion and empathy. When you make a mistake and realize this mistake, you say, “How could I do such a thing? Am I ok? I never expected this from myself.” If you talk to yourself mercilessly, you are using violent communication. If you make definitive judgments instead of understanding or trying to understand the other person, you are using violent communication. 

Violent communication may have been in our lives since childhood and we may be using it without realizing it. According to Rosenberg, communication prevents us from communicating compassionately; Moralistic judgments consist of making comparisons and denying responsibility (2004, p.31). Moralistic judgments are accurate, inaccurate, or bad evaluations you make about people. It includes blaming, insulting, belittling, diagnosing, and labeling. For example, without realizing it, “He's a crazy person.”, “Your real problem is that you're a careless and irrational person.” We can make heartbreaking sentences for example comparison is often hurtful. You may be criticizing yourself harshly. You may find yourself saying that “I worked hard, but he got higher grades than me. What's my problem?" As long as we compare, we continue to ignore our success. Denying responsibility is another factor that hinders nonviolent communication. For example, if a person who is addicted to cigarettes claims that addiction is the reason why he smokes too much, he is denying his responsibility. While it is the person's responsibility to be able to let this go, using it as an excuse and hiding behind that excuse means that the person is denying responsibility.

There are four elements to communicating nonviolently. These;

1) Observation: Observing does not mean evaluating. We add our feelings and thoughts when making an evaluation. While observing, we state our observations in their pure form. "Whenever I talk to you, you always complain about something." In fact, an evaluation is made. “We talked to you four times this week, and each time you talked about people who treated you in ways you didn't like.” The sentence is an observation. In order for something to be an observation, it must be a sentence that simply states what is, without emotion or thought. Sometimes, in a negative situation, the way we speak can make us seem more angry than we are, when we are calm and think we are being calm to the other person. The reason for this situation is the intense communication that has become a habit in our way of communication.


2) Emotion: Real emotions to communicate nonviolently; It is distinguished from words and expressions that contain thoughts, comments, and evaluations. For example, “I feel like you don't love me.” Emotions and thoughts are not separated from each other in the sentence. It contains thoughts about the other person's feelings instead of expressing the actual emotion. “I'm glad you're coming.” The sentence only conveys emotion.


3) Need: It is the awareness of the needs behind the emotions. When negative communication is communicated, this communication is responded to in four ways; blaming ourselves, blaming others, sensing our feelings and needs, and sensing the emotions and needs hidden behind the other person's negative message. For example, if we say to a person we are offended by, “I get very angry when you talk like that. Because I want respect and I perceive your words as an insult.” If we express our thoughts and feelings like this, it means that we have taken responsibility for our feelings.

4) Request: When we tell the other person what we want while speaking, the rate of getting the response we want increases. Expressing requests with vague sentences usually results in disappointment. For example, if a person is sitting in his room with the door closed and a family member enters his room without knocking and the young person is disturbed by this, say, "I want you to respect my private life." Just saying is not a sufficient request. Instead, “I want you to respect my privacy by knocking on my door before entering my room.” If he says this, he will detail his request and his chances of getting what he wants will increase.

When we hide some meanings and requests under words, we may perceive this as disrespect when those hidden meanings are not paid attention to. In fact, all we need to do is to establish a more open and healthy communication.

In Rosenberg's book, numerous examples of nonviolent communication language's sentence patterns in daily life are given. Rosenberg was able to explain this language of communication in a way that everyone can find traces of it in their own lives. A person who thinks he communicates clearly may realize that he communicates violently on some issues while reading this book. Recognizing this situation is the first and most important step. It may take time to change violent communication patterns, but by freeing ourselves from this and continuing with nonviolent communication, we can establish much healthier communication and bonds than before.

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Beyza Sıla Keskin Ben Beyza Sıla Keskin. ODTÜ Psikolojik Danışmanlık ve Rehberlik mezunuyum. Alanımda kendimi geliştirmek ve geliştirirken deneyim kazanmak benim için çok önemli. Hayata psikoloji penceresinden bakmak bana çok şey kazandırıyor.