Giving From the Heart: Empathetic or Non-Violent Communication

February 13, 2018 in Psychology 1 Shared

Words are a double-edged sword. They can build deep relationships, but they also have the power to destroy them and cause pain.

Learning to speak from the heart and be mindful of your communication is essential for healthy relationships. That’s why empathetic or non-violent communication is so important. 

Marshall Rosenberg, an American psychologist, developed this new type of communication in the early sixties. He did so while was studying the factors that affect our ability to be compassionate.

His intention was to answer two questions that had bothered him since childhood. The first was: what disconnects us from our caring nature and makes us behave in violent or abusive ways?

And the other was: why do some people have a consistently caring attitude even in the most adverse of circumstances?

The result was the development of non-violent communication. Let’s see what it’s all about.

“What I want in my life is compassion, a flow between myself and others based on a mutual giving from the heart.”

-Marshall Rosenberg-

Empathetic or non-violent communication

Many relationships deteriorate because we don’t know how to communicate. Likewise, poor communication causes significant conflict. We believe that talking is the same as communicating and we forget the other, fundamental part: listening

One solution to this problem is Rosenberg’s empathetic or non-violent communication. The foundation for this type of communication is the idea of giving from the heart. 

With this type of communication, we are able to connect with ourselves so that we can connect with others. Consequently, our natural compassion flourishes.

non-violent communication

Abilities related to verbal and non-verbal language form the base of this kind of communication. They allow us to continue to be human even in extreme conditions.

In other words, this focus makes it possible to control impulses. No matter what the circumstances and no matter how easy it would be to let them take over. If we use these abilities, we can maintain sincere and honest communication that comes from the heart.

Empathetic or non-violent communication helps us restructure the way we express ourselves and listen to other people.
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As you can see, this is nothing new. We’ve known about all of the elements that make up this type of communication for centuries. The key is to retrieve them, be aware of them, and apply them in our day-t0-day life.

The components of empathetic communication

Non-violent communication can be powerfully transformative. Communicating in a non-violent way means going beyond our needs and listening to the needs of others. It means setting aside habitual and automatic reactions. But how is it done?

According to Rosenberg, to learn to give from the heart we have to focus the light of our conscience to light up four distinct areas (the four components of non-violent communication):

  • Observation. Observing what is happening in a given situation is the first component. Does what others are saying or doing enrich your life? The key is knowing how to properly express whether or not we like what other people do. You have to do it in a way that is non-judgmental. Because, as J. Krishnamurti said, observing without judging is the highest form of human intelligence.
  • Feeling. The second component is testing how you feel. Do you feel hurt, happy or irritated? The point is to identify the feelings and emotions you have in the moment.
  • Need. The third component is seeing which of your needs relate to the feelings you’ve identified.
  • Request. The last component of non-violent communication is focusing on what we want the other person to do to enrich their life as well as yours. To make it happen, you have to make a specific request.

people with big hearts

Non-violent communication also means listening

Now, empathetic or non-violent communication doesn’t just refer to our own ability to express ourselves honestly. It also means we are able to empathetically receive communication from others.

So, when we focus our attention on this four aspects of the process and help others to do the same, true communication happens. It is a two-way street where both perspectives come into play.

On one hand, I observe, I feel, and I identify what I need to enrich my life. On the other hand, what does the other person observe, feel, and need to enrich their lives as well?

The power of compassionate speech

Non-violent communication is the language of compassion. It is the bridge to inner connection and an honest and authentic link to others.

More than just a type of communication, it is an attitude. That attitude allows us to be responsible for our internal processes.

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”

-Anthony Robbins-

holding hands and connecting

Before letting yourself get carried away by impulse and saying things you regret later, pause for a second and listen to yourself. That way you will understand yourself and try to understand others.

Screaming and disdain don’t help. Silence and calm can be useful tools in our goal to light up dark moments. 

Don’t forget that the way you communicate affects your day-to-day life. If non-violent communication prevails in your life, it’s more likely that it will prevail in others’ lives as well.

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