Nonviolent communication

by Anna Finlayson and Daren DeWitt

The four key ingredients of NVC

As well as being aware of our intention when communicating, NVC encourages us to focus on four key areas of communication, which we call the four key ingredients. Below is a summary of the four ingredients. We will expand on these in separate pages.

  • Observations

We clarify exactly what we have seen or heard that has triggered our upset us. We are encouraged to express our observation free from judgments, labels and criticisms that are likely to antagonise others.

  • Feelings

We aim to accurately identify the feelings that have been triggered inside us as a result of the situation and express those feelings, free from language that attacks and lays blame on the other person.

  • Needs

Identifying the deep, powerful forces inside us which motivate all our behaviour and which generate our feelings and then connecting to and finding a language to express these deep needs is the unique contribution that NVC makes to conflict resolution and communication skills in general. Hearing and expressing the needs inside ourselves and others has tremendous healing power, whether in a conflict situation or when supporting someone who is in deep pain.

  • Requests

It is also important to be clear about what specific actions we would like taken to meet our unmet needs, and who we would like to take these actions. Communicating our needs separately from our requests creates freedom and flexibility. The other person may not be willing to do what we request of them, but when they are connected to our need, they are freed up to think of something they can do that meets our need and that also works for them.