I’m reading the best book right now called Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. I have learned so much and have already applied many of the principles with great success.
My biggest take aways thus far are:
#1) Remembering to use this formula when communicating: State your feelings, followed by your need, and then make your request. For example, if I want my child to pick up her socks, instead of demanding that she do it, I would say, “Jane, I’m feeling frustrated with your socks all over the front room because I have a need for order. Would you be willing to pick up your socks and place them in the hamper?”
#2) People resist demands, but respond to requests. The most powerful change in my language has been to start using, “Would you be willing?” and then make my request. If the answer is no, then I need to try to discover the reason behind why the person does not want to help meet my needs and figure out what their needs are.
#3) After making a request it is a good idea to make sure you communicated clearly. A good way to do this is through the reflection technique. Using this technique means you simply ask the person “What did you hear me say?” They are then able to tell you what they heard you say and you can see if you need to clarify your message.
#4) We always seek to understand others needs and then they will be more likely to seek to understand ours. When we recognize needs and express empathy for others, we can connect. Connection enables effective communication .
#5) Sometimes we will need to use force. But most of the time force can be avoided if we take time to communicate non-violently. If protective use of force is needed (meaning we don’t have time to communicate non-violently, someone is mentally ill or high, or we are in danger, etc.), we should use it, but never punitively.
There is a difference between protective use of force and punitive use of force and punishment. An example of protective use of force would be restraining a child who tries to run into the road. The use of force in this situation is justified and wise for it preserves life. If, however, you turn and spank the child to teach them a lesson about how irresponsible it was to run into the road, you would be using punitive force. Punitive force is unnecessary and does not demonstrate compassion. It engenders fear-based action and not action born of love and compassion. We should seek to persuade others through gentleness and love unfeigned as the Prophet Joseph Smith so beautifully taught in the Doctrine and Covenants section 121:41.
#6) The language we use matters. Eliminating such words as “have to,” “should,” “shouldn’t,” etc. from our vocabulary is wise. The human spirit loves freedom and recoils from anything that remotely resembles force. If there are things you don’t enjoy doing, you should stop doing them, or find a different way of viewing the task so that you can find enjoyment and purpose in doing it.
Everything you do should be fun or give you life. For example, if you hate doing clinical reports in your job, figure out why you do them. When you determine the why, you can then determine if the trade off is worth it. Marshall (the author) is a psychologist and hated doing clinical reports. When he asked himself why he was doing them, he discovered the only reason he did them was to make money for doing them paid very well. He decided that the extra income he made from doing them was not worth the “hate” toll he had to pay. Marshall figured he’d rather scavenge through garbage cans than write another clinical report so he stopped doing them. Over the past 30 years he hasn’t penned another clinical report and that thought brings fills him with so much life and joy.
On the other hand, he also hated driving carpool twice per week. But when he asked “why” he did it, he discovered it was important to him that his children attend a quality school with the values this particular school supplied. He also realized it was precious time he could spend with his children. By simply examining his why, he was able to start seeing the task in a different light. Instead of feeling like he “had to” drive carpool, he saw it instead as a task that mattered a great deal, and he began to enjoy it as a choice. I still have not done this exercise of identifying things I hate to do, and a) delegating them, b) deleting them, or c) figuring out the why, and how or if the action can bring me life. Reframing our actions in this manner helps ensure maximum enjoyment in life.
I am not yet done with the book, and I have had many additional take aways not penned in this post, but the ones I have discussed above are the most poignant. I will be re-reading this book and continuing to implement its truths. I am grateful for this man’s knowledge and understanding of how to communicate non-violently. I feel that the title of his book does not do his teachings justice. He should win a Pulitzer Prize for teaching us all a better way to be.