How does violence originate and what are the consequences?
Within Non-Violent Communication we assume that the basis of all violence is based on a way of thinking, namely thinking in terms of ‘right or wrong’. Differences can not exist within this thinking pattern. Each difference is explained as ‘one is good and the other is wrong’.
This way of thinking leads to constant analysis and interpretations. We pay attention to what is different in others and/or ourselves and judge this almost immediately as ‘something is wrong; with myself or with that other person’.
Each judgment falls into the category ‘good’ or ‘wrong’. Every judgment, whether this is supposedly positive or negative, evokes guilt and shame. This guilt and shame leads to fear, because nobody really wants to be ‘wrong’ and everybody is afraid of the consequences of ‘being wrong’. ‘Good’ also raises fear because you do not know what you have to do to be or remain ‘good’. That fear deprives you of the space to be yourself.
However, we need that space to survive and so we do everything we can to regain it. Ways in which we try to regain that space are: defending, attacking, resistance, rebellion, apparent adaptation or withdrawal. These ways, however, ensure that there is a lack of space for the other to be themselves and does not actually contribute to creating space for ourselves. Because all these ways again evoke fear, guilt and shame. This way we end up in a vicious circle of violence. We are unfortunately so accustomed to always and immediately analyzing and interpreting and subsequently judging that we are often not aware that we are judging and what the effects are. If we dwell on the effects of judgments and we recognize and acknowledge that judgments and being judged are creating pain and prevent harmony and respect, we then can make another choice.
By becoming aware of the moment we analyze, interpret and judge, we can change. As soon as we recognize that moment, it is possible to replace the interpretation and the judgment with questions. Ask ourselves and/or the other person those questions and thereby give space to everyone’s feelings and needs.
THE ELEMENTS OF THE MODEL OF NON-VIOLENCE COMMUNICATION
Observations is the first element of the model. It is a sensory experience, that is what you hear, see, smell, taste or feel. A description thereof without interpretation or analysis.
Feelings that are stimulated by the observation in the here and now.
The third element are the needs – the universal basic needs.
The request is the fourth element. The request encourages action to fulfill your need(s). With the request you ask someone else, or yourself, whether he, she or you wants to take action.
Compassion has to do with the intention to recognize ourselves in the other. To know that we are all people with the same feelings and needs. It has to do with our need and our desire to live in harmony and respect with everything in this life.
Compassion consists of consciousness, commitment, openness, closeness, empathy, sympathy, warmth, respect, softness/tenderness, clarity. Compassion means that you are both in contact with yourself and with the other person. That you are open to feelings, both of yourself and of the other person. That you allow yourself to acknowledge those feelings that are there, without judging. Compassion means that you listen to the story of the other person without agreeing or disagreeing.
Compassion leads to a way of listening that involves both empathy. Empathy means that you get under the skin of the other person, and experience and feel what the other person feels. Compassion means that you recognize the emotions and from those feelings you can go with the story of the other person. In addition, other feelings can also be stimulated. Compassion is an attitude, a state of being, where you are at the same time with the other person and with yourself. Compassion is a connection in the here and now with the other person and yourself that makes respect and harmony possible.
Compassion can be seen as essential curiosity. You want to know what is alive in yourself and/or in the other person.
This is a model that is meant as a reminder.
As an inspiration for direct practical application. It is not a technical model where you can turn a key and start working.
Non-Violent Communication means the will to connect. There is no right and wrong, only feedback. You always have the option, at any time, of returning to that connection with the aid of the model. During the connection we experience how the elements are connected and then we understand how we can use the elements to work for us and connect us with ourselves and the other.
An observation stimulates one or more feelings. Becoming aware of these feelings makes clear what need(s) are fulfilled or unfulfilled. Then we can choose for action (request).
If we are really curious, wondering from which feeling(s) and which needs(s) we communicate, we then tap from our natural source of compassion.
The chance that our communication is experienced as ‘non-violent’ is when we explicitly use the model. That may seem simple. However, we are used to a different language and we experience the use of the model, certainly in the beginning, as ‘strange’ and ‘unnatural’.
We are used to confusing and mixing the elements together. That confusion and mixing evoke fear, guilt and shame, the basis for violence.