Non-Violent Communication - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Non-Violent Communication

Good relationships are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. The quality of our relationships often depends on the quality of our communication skills. Non-violent communication (NVC) is a training program that improves communication skills by teaching participants to approach life more compassionately. NVC was developed by Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s. The central idea of NVC training is that human beings are compassionate by nature and only resort to violence or behaviors that harm other when they are not aware of more effective strategies for meeting their needs.

Human beings have basic physical and emotional needs. These needs are universal because we all have them regardless of color, creed or culture. How we feel depends on the degree to which these needs are met. We have positive feelings such as happiness and joy when our needs are met and negative feelings such as sadness and anger when needs are not met.

Our behaviors are strategies to meet our needs. While everyone shares the same set of human needs, the strategies we use to meet those needs are based on unconscious personal and cultural beliefs that differ from person to person and culture to culture. Conflict, unhappiness and verbal or physical violence result when strategies clash and needs are not met.

NVC training helps us to identify our needs and the needs of others with a view to developing effective non-conflicting strategies to meet these needs. The three main components of this communication process are:

  • Self-empathy- compassionate awareness of our own beliefs, thoughts and feelings
  • Empathy for others – the ability to listen carefully and see past the words and actions of others to the needs that they are trying to meet
  • Honest self-expression – expressing our own needs honestly, compassionately and non-judgmentally

NVC concepts and skills have successfully helped to resolve international conflicts, but the most common use is in avoiding and resolving interpersonal conflicts in our daily lives. Interpersonal conflicts can arise in any setting and we often see the violent and tragic outcomes in the news. Incorporating NVC into your lifestyle is an effective strategy for achieving balance, harmony, better relationships and an improved quality of life.

In future blogs I will discuss using the NVC approach to resolve interpersonal conflicts in specific settings such as marriage, intimate relationships, parenting, friendships, workplaces and communities.  You can learn more about NCV at the Center for Non-violent Communication (CNVC)’s website. There are communities of people who practice NVC in many states within the USA and in many countries around the world. If you live in Georgia, the Georgia Network for Non-Violent Communication (GANVC) has certified trainers and teachers who hold training sessions and practice groups. Attending a training session or workshop is the best way to enter the global NVC community that will hopefully change the way the world communicates.


About the author

Dr. Jennifer Rooke

Dr. Jennifer Rooke is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine. She recently joined the faculty at Morehouse to start a lifestyle medicine clinic. Lifestyle Medicine is the use of interventions such as evidenced-based nutrition, physical activity and stress management to treat disease. Dr. Rooke has practiced medicine for over 27 years and is board certified in both Occupational Medicine and Public Health/Preventive Medicine. Dr. Rooke is a fellow of both the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Rooke serves as adjunct faculty in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University. Contact the author or visit her website www.advancedlifestylemedicine.com Contact the author.
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