NonViolent Communication

Ever wonder just how much of our arguments stem not from the circumstances instigating a disagreement, but more from our communication styles?

I do.

I’ve been reading this book about how to communicate empathetically (Living Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, if you’re interested), and he talks about how to empathetically receive and give communication about our wants and needs. And all this reading got me thinking: I’ve probably messed up so many disagreements not so much by the message, but by how it was said.

Our arguments, our misunderstandings, are not usually the result of another person or even ourselves trying to be difficult or stubborn, but rather, “just” a lack of effective communication.

The whole point of nonviolent communication, as far as I understand from the 45 pages I’ve read so far, is to be open and honest about your needs and wants, and to be open and honest about receiving someone else’s needs and wants. Your goal isn’t just to get your way, but to have everyone’s needs and wants satisfied. This seems improbable: after all, how can we all get our way?

But I think, as far as I get it, that we can all get our needs met, if we just open up to each other and stop tiptoeing around issues. We need to learn to communicate effectively and empathetically. Communication is about giving and receiving, and I think many of us lack those skills. Which is why our relationships fail. Most people don’t want to be difficult, but our actions make us so.

I think another great book that I’ve read recently that’s helped me out is The Art of Living. You may want to check it out as a way to reorient your life and priorities, and to allow you to cultivate a sense of awareness in your life. Which is something I think is important to cultivate: if you are not self-aware, how can you expect someone else to be aware of your desires, your needs? You can’t.