FOR our intro to Nonviolent communication and why you might want to bring it to your group, click here.
Nonviolent Communication is collaborative group communication
Last week we talked about the 4-step process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). The point of adopting this communication strategy is two-fold:
1. Cut down on petty miscommunication issues, and
2. Learn to communicate so that you can be heard.
There are TONS of resources out there for how to adopt NVC at work, and with partners and family. NVC is popping up everywhere from Teen Vogue to Business Insider. The power of this framework is in how simple, adaptable, and effective it is. Studies show that when NVC is employed in workplace settings, social stress decreases and collaboration increases.
At Groupeasy, we’re all about what makes groups hum. So when we talk about NVC, we’ll be framing it as a conversation about how to bring NVC to a group setting. Whether you’re part of a church small group, a walking or fitness club, or a community action group, we know that NVC can be applicable to the types of communication dysfunction you may occasionally experience.
Top 8 sentences for bigger, better small group collaboration
Mariane Van Dijk has a hugely popular YouTube channel, Cup of Empathy, with lots of great content about how to take the broad strokes of our NVC basics and apply them in real-life context. Today, we’re adapting her list of the “Top 7 sentences for nonviolent communication.” We understand that it can feel understandably stilted following the formulaic structure of Observation + Feeling + Need + Request. The goal is to make the framework of NVC so natural and seamless that it enhances your trust and connection in the group. In order to do that, we understand that it needs to feel and sound like how humans normally talk! That means being a little creative and loose with how you introduce each idea into your dialogue. To that end, we’re introducing some nuance so that you can begin to see how to naturally start introducing these into your own way of thinking and communicating!
There’s something going on for me…”
Here’s an easy way that you can preface what you’re about to say. Especially if you’re not used to sharing needs and feelings with your group, you might find that opening the conversation could be the most awkward part. Next, you would insert a statement about your feeling. This requires the emotional literacy to be able to identify what you are feeling in the first place. If you need a little time to think about what specifically it is that you’re feeling, say “I’m having a bit of a reaction to this, but I need to think about what it is that I really feel before I talk about it” or something along those lines. We’re going for transparency.
“Do you have space to listen to me…”
Asking permission is critical to giving feedback (LINK). Because offering constructive feedback is not a top-down command, an evaluation, or an order, it’s important to receive consent. If you begin the conversation this way, you’ll increase the likelihood of a collaborative moment where everyone involved can actually be heard. Practically speaking, if someone is distracted, preoccupied, or simply in a rush your message will not be heard anyway. Giving them a chance to say “not now, but I will be available this afternoon” offers both of you a chance to exercise healthy boundaries.
How would it be for you to….
This is an alternative to ‘can you do this’ or ‘do you want to do this?” If you use this question instead, you invite the person to check in with themselves more deeply instead of immediately batting down the request with ‘no’. It’s like preemptively asking them to find a way to say ‘yes.’ Inviting that check-in prompts a negotiation to begin, the end of which will presumably be mutually satisfying.
“Would you be willing to try out this strategy…”
An alternative to #3. Make your request feel easier to the listener by adding a specific time period. “ Can we try this three times, one time, for just one month, etc…” The person you’re asking something of may feel more lead to say ‘yes’ to your request if you make it clear that there is a backstop. If we try this for a certain amount of time and it doesn’t work, THEN we continue to negotiate!
Can I think about it and let you know tomorrow?
This question gives you time to check-in with yourself without the pressure of an immediate response. It gives the other person the benefit of knowing that you are taking their request seriously enough to thoroughly consider it while still holding a boundary that allows you to take care of yourself. If your answer isn’t a full immediate resounding ‘yes’, this time allows you to come up with some ways to suggest shifting things to being more mutually beneficial.
“I would really love to find a way…”
This is a way to frame your intentions with openness. You bake transparency into the process when you frame things this way; this becomes an invitation for transparency from the person with whom you are seeking to connect. A lot about NVC is characterized by good old fashioned active listening, mirroring, and leading (or inviting) by example. You don’t even really have to call it NVC. This is valuable and basic collaborative communication!
“I would prefer to do X because I have a need for X…”
If you need to say ‘no’ or pose an alternative, show your work! Communication is, at its roots, an effort to connect. If someone has asked something of you that you need to turn down or amend, explain why. This gives the opportunity to get closer to a mutually satisfactory outcome.
These are Van Dijk’s sentences and our explanations. To these, we’ll add one more that’s just our own. Since we’re assuming that you’ll be using NVC in the context of group discussion, here’s one for the leader or de facto conversation moderator:
“Is there any piece of this that still feels unfinished?”
Give a final opportunity for everyone to be heard. People often speak up when given the opportunity. Theoretically this could cut down on repetitive conversation loops later on. Nothing is foolproof, of course, but finding ways to avoid relitigating the same decisions over and over again saves everyone time and sanity in the long run. No brainer right? We think so too!
Have you tried any of these with your group? Have you adopted Nonviolent Communication strategies with anyone in your life? How do you find you best connect with people when it comes to making decisions or negotiating conflict? Let us know in the comments!
We love to hear from you guys!
The team at Groupeasy