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Saturday, 27 December 2014 19:00

Non-Judgemental Communication - How Does It Affect Us?

Written by  Megha Ratna Sakya

Human societies have become very complex these days due to stresses that became an inherent part of an individual’s life. Even as a child, the humanity has suffered from the stress. There is the pressure to learn, compete and perform. The communication system is perhaps one of the most mismanaged and misguided system that contributes to conflicts at the early age.

Parents and children are often at war as parents try to impose rules through their power. Children learn this art quickly and they practice it in the schools. So bullying has become a common thing. Couples explode over tiny issues and spend sleepless nights. Teachers feel humiliated when their authority is challenged by students. In corporate world, talking behind the back is almost a norm.

Just look around where you are with people and notice their language. Metaphorically, they speak jackal language which means they make judgments like good, bad, right or wrong etc. almost every moment. They also make value judgments like he is a liar, honest or dishonest, etc. at the slightest opportunity. They compare, diagnose, demand, criticize, blame and often make the other person ashamed. As a result there is conflict among people from moment to moment. Communication that is based on thinking and not centered at reality of the present moment cannot resolve conflicts.

When you talk in non-judgemental way, you neither feel hurt nor can you hurt others because you are speaking in neutral manner. This approach is based on a simple truth. The truth is that we all have emotions and feelings. Behind these emotions and feelings, we have needs. When our own feelings are not valued and our needs not fulfilled, we are enraged and get angry, hence we run into conflict with the person with whom we are communicating. Same way, when we hear with non-judgemental ear, even the most critical and hostile messages would not affect us because we receive them without taking them personally, or giving in, or losing our self-esteem.

This model commonly known as Non-violent Communication was developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist from Detroit, Michigan. Since founding the Center for Non-violent Communication (CNVC) in 1984 as a non-profit organization, Dr. Rosenberg has created a pool of more than 200 CNVC-certified trainers on NVC throughout the world and over 250,000 people have received training in NVC.

How exactly the NVC Model works?

The primary intention of NVC is to bring compassionate connection in any interaction. With connection established, even the most difficult of conflicts can more easily be defused as feelings are expressed without blame and tensions are relieved. The outcome is often mutually satisfying. There are only four elements that are core of the NVC process. It is simple and straight forward yet very powerful tool of getting one’s needs met without harming and hurting others. The four elements of NVC are:

Observation (O): making clear and accurate non-judgemental observations;
Feeling (F): identifying and expressing emotions; 
Need (N): identifying and expressing the needs that are connected to the feelings; 
Request (R): making clear do-able positive action requests.

Example of expressing yourself in NVC:

When the parent says to the child, “you are lazy” because s/he has not done his homework, what would you expect the child would do? Take it easy and faithfully do the homework? Or take this as criticism, blame and recrimination that would invite stiffness, resistance and non-cooperation? This is certainly the jackal language that would not help develop good connection and smooth connection. The child will have all sorts of aids to defend himself and get mad at the parent. When the parent defends his position, the child may wage a verbal war. Is this a familiar story? Now let us see how NVC would tackle the case. The parent instead of saying, “you are lazy”, would say in giraffe language which runs something like this: “When I see you spend 3 hours watching TV (O), I felt worried (F) because I needed to make sure that you complete the homework so that I do not receive another note from your teacher and you yourself receive not so happy treatment at school tomorrow (N). Would you be willing to do the homework now and then if time permit watch the TV? (R).” From the experience of NVC, this kind of expression at least does not evoke homework–TV war at home. Even if the child does not cooperate 100 percent doing homework, there won’t be the conflict that would hurt both the parent and child

So much about expressing yourself. What about listening to others?

Listening to others in NVC:

Listening is indeed the most important part of communication. How many times do we hear such conversations between couples, “You do not listen to me”? Then you say, “Yes, I do”. And the other would say, “No, you don’t”. And you say, “Yes, I do”. What is this conversation? Physically you are listening as you have no problem with your ears. But the other person is still saying, “You don’t”. Perhaps you have not heard her from your heart. In NVC we call this empathy. In NVC, the reply to "You do not listen to me" would sound something like this: “are you feeling upset because you needed that stuff so much?” rather that the defensive reply "Yes, I do"?

You can check out the immediate impact of such an approach in the above conflict. Because the way we are conditioned to think and speak in certain ways, we have forgotten our natural way of speaking and listening that we learned at the age of one when we express ourselves naturally. As we grow and educate, we learn certain ways that becomes habitual but not natural. Losing our innocence of one year old is perhaps our first step to violence. NVC restores your long lost power of child’s innocence: the power to communicate without judgment. We need this language to reconstruct our family today.

(Megha Ratna Shakya, educated in economics at Princeton University, USA, and an MBA from Nepal, is a trainer of non judgmental communication, commonly known as on nonviolent communication (NVC). Megha combines NVC with meditation technique to calm our mind and eliminate thoughts so that we can speak our feelings rather than thoughts. Megha is also a Vipassana meditation practioner, Tibetan singing bowl and Reiki healer. He is residing in Vancouver. He can be contacted at 778-279-1004, email- This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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