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NVC is a quality of connection that focuses on acknowledging observations, how we feel when we experience them, following the emotion messengers to recognize what needs are met or unmet, on the needs to allow more effective strategies to emerge, which leads to requests to meet those needs.
Every day our mind is full of thoughts that we are aware of and thoughts that we are not aware of until we slow down and listen to them. These thoughts affect us in many different ways, from our own behavior to our health. I see these thought as just strategies in order to try to meet our needs, though some of those strategies may be disconnected from what our needs are and therefore, not very effective at meeting them.
One of the most challenging thoughts that affect us in unhealthy ways are judgements. Now, don't get me wrong, judgments are not bad or wrong, they are just strategies to meet some beautiful universal human needs of ours; however, instead of meeting them they often instead work against them; hence, they are referred to as tragic expressions of unmet needs.
Some people advise to ignore thoughts that they perceive as negative, just focusing on the positive or just say to let them go. NVC takes another approach based upon listening to the judgments connecting to how we feel when we hear or express them, follow the emotions to direct us to what needs they are trying to meet, then focus on the needs to allow more effective strategies to emerge that we can put in place of that judgment in order to more effectively meet the needs the judgment was trying to meet.
There are many gems in our shadow that can emerge when we listen beneath the thoughts to the underlying feelings and needs. NVC recognizes that everything that we do is in the service of needs, whether or not they actually meet them or not. And, we recognize that everything that we do is the absolute best way that can with the understanding and skills that we have at the time.
The classical NVC structure is listening to or expressing 1. Observation, 2. Feeling, 3. Need, 4. Request (OFNR).
We will look at the difference between:
Observation and Evaluation
Feelings, Thoughts and Feelings mixed with judgment
Need and Strategy
Request and Demand
Here is a reminder that NVC isn’t this list, but a heart-focused quality of connection. This focus on OFNR is only a tool to get to that heart-focused connection. Sometimes NVC involves no words at all, but rather may be a felt connection to the feelings and needs.
What is the difference between an observation and evaluation? Observation is fact, while evaluation is what we tell ourselves about what we observe. Two people can see the same exact thing and tell themselves completely different thoughts about it. Let's say that there's a final play in a football game. There is clearly a last second touchdown to win the game. Fans of one team cheer in excitement while fans of the other wallow in defeat after watching the exact same thing.
What is the difference between a feeling, a thought and a feeling mixed with a judgement? By saying “I feel that” is a clear way to recognize that what comes after is a thought and not a feeling. Words like abandoned, rejected, manipulated have judgments mixed, which means that they are tied the behaviors or perceived intentions of another person. The focus here is to get clarity on what is only connected to what is felt within rather than thought. Getting down to the basics such as scared, sad, hurt, pain, lonely, angry, etc. are very helpful to gain stronger clarity on needs. If we have feelings tied to judgments or only work from thoughts, then we will likely jump to strategies before recognizing what we need first, or give our power away rather than retaining it within ourselves.
What are these universal human needs? Universal human needs are what everybody needs no matter where we are from, what time we were born or anything else about our situation. They have no connection to any particular person doing any particular thing. Some examples include: Integrity, Connection, Community, Contribution, Play, Inspiration, Love, Sustenance, Meaning… When we are clear on our needs then we can wonder and brainstorm strategies of ways to meet them. Only then do we explore the strategies that are focused on meeting those needs and put forward a request.
We bring forward a request, because a demand doesn’t honor the need for autonomy of other people and we can’t make them do it anyway. Marshall talks about how when we make someone do something, they will find a way to make us wish we didn’t. So, honoring the choice of others addresses this on the front end. We recognize that “no” is just a poor expression of unmet needs that than can be brought into consideration. The focus of NVC is to create a quality of connection to discover how to meet the needs of all involved, rather than trying to get someone to do what we want. When we work with an internal judgment, the request may be to be a shift in our thinking that better serves our needs.
NVC can also be very helpful in deepening gratitude by focusing on times when needs are met and sharing clarity on what was observed that met the need(s), what did if feel like, what need(s) were met, followed by a request of receiving gratitude for having supported meeting those needs.
While I just gave a summary of some basics of NVC here, I prefer to share NVC in practice, so it can be experienced rather than just intellectually understood. I feel excited to have this opportunity to share my understanding of NVC to you. It greatly supports my needs for contribution to your well-being, empowerment for us all, understanding and peace. Thank you for reading and considering attending the upcoming workshop on Aug 15th
$15 per person
Minimum: 5 registrations
Maximum: 10 registrations
Instructor: Ian Thomas
Om Baby Pregnancy & Parenting Center
2201 Market Street, Rear - Camp Hill, PA
The Om Center LLC