The basic premise is that we should listen empathically and express from the heart.
In brief, there is a recommended 4-step process that we should endeavour to adhere to when in communication, particularly when somebody says something that we find difficult to hear.
- Observations - express what you observe rather than your evaluation of it. "I hear that your voice is raised..." rather than "you're having a go at me"
- Feelings - Express your feelings in response to what you observe as emotions or sensations rather than thoughts. "I feel criticised" - "criticised" is not an emotion, nor is abandoned, let down etc. They are evaluations of what others are doing to us. Emotions and sensations are e.g. angry, irritated, frustrated.
- Needs - inform of what your need is - which need is not being met e.g. "because I need to feel appreciated"
- Requests - making a concrete request for something that would enrich life without demanding "would you be willing to...?"
Adhering to these basics proved tricky for all of us, many of us trained counsellors. For me it is easy to follow in the therapeutic relationship but when it comes to those nearest and dearest, where heightened emotions are involved, then the lure of leaping to defending myself is incredibly strong.
Fortunately, it has been mooted that a NVC practice group will commence in the new year, kicking off with a 6 week, pre-designed structure developed by Rosenberg for this purpose.
My struggle is that although I am very much in favour of the philosophy behind NVC, I am aware that it has, for me, a slightly cult-ish feel about it, with a very charismatic individual heading it up (Rosenberg himself).