Nonviolent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communication, offers a set of tools designed to help foster compassion and understanding both within ourselves and others. These tools can be used therapeutically, in conflict situations, or in everyday conversation.
When faced with conflict, we often think our only choices are to stifle ourselves and give in to keep the peace, or to demand what we want though this may lead to a painful struggle. Neither of these alternatives is very satisfying. Nonviolent Communication offers an alternative. It provides a way of expressing ourselves with full authenticity in a way that helps others to hear us, and a way of hearing what others wish we could understand. It also supports us in understanding ourselves.
When we communicate in this way, conflict is less likely to drive us apart. Instead, transforming conflict can actually help us feel closer, and release locked up vitality. We find that even in aspects of our lives where there is little obvious conflict, things can start going more smoothly, and we can enjoy life more fully.
One might liken Nonviolent Communication to an iceberg, for which much of what is present lies beneath the surface. At the surface, it is apparent that Nonviolent Communication provides recipes for communicating, and specific tools for transforming conflict. Looking below the surface, Nonviolent Communication is not just about techniques that one applies mechanically. Rather, it is also about attitudes, about our core approach to understanding the world. It is about creating harmony and connection in every aspect of our lives. And at the deepest levels, Nonviolent Communication is about how we can be fully alive in this world, how we can honor all of who we are and bring joy to ourselves and others.
Some people wonder about the name, Nonviolent Communication. The name does not mean that this approach is only for people with an obvious propensity towards violence. Rather, the name honors nonviolence as practiced by people like Ghandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonviolent Communication involves shifts in the way we are in the world, to address not only explicit violence, but also the subtle roots of violence that pervade most cultures. Nonviolent Communication offers us ways to meet our needs that are not rooted in inflicting pain, but in inspiring the often-dormant universal human capacities for connection and love.