Although it certainly is helpful when the person I am communicating with has some Compassionate (Nonviolent) Communication skills, I find that I can usually connect with someone by what I call “translating” what they are saying to Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Translating means I guess their feelings and needs. If my guess isn’t accurate, the person will let me know, and then I can connect with whatever feelings and needs they are experiencing.
Them: “She’s impossible to talk to. Everything’s a fight with her.”
Me: “You’d like to be able to talk things out more calmly?”
Them: “Yes, I’d like us to be able to work things out together, and I can’t see that happening.”
Me: “Feeling confused about how to find a way?”
Although my guesses may seem obvious, I notice the person often responds with a sense of relief at being heard. And by guessing what the person wants rather than what they don’t like, it gives them an idea of what they might request.
Before practicing NVC, other approaches I used to take might have sounded like this:
- “Well, she’s probably tired right now. She has a lot on her plate.” (Empathizing with the person who is not in front of me.)
- “She sounds impossible.” (Jumping on the judgment bandwagon.
- “Maybe you should…” (Shoulding on or trying to fix.)
These approaches often seemed to enhance or reinforce the right/wrong aspect of what was happening, and the person would feel more upset and helpless.
I have experienced over and over again how my guessing and trying to understand someone’s experience on a feelings-and-needs level helps them feel calmer and more connected to their life. And it helps me feel calmer and more connected to life too!
You can use these same skills to listen to yourself and translate your judgments and thoughts to a more life-connected experience.
I would love for our world to be full of “NVC translators” making life more wonderful for all of us! I invite you to practice your NVC translation skills.