We have found Non-Violent Communication (NVC – developed by Marshal Rosenberg) to be a very practical and effective tool. NVC encourages people to take responsibility for their own feelings and offers tools to express them. NVC is rooted in the belief that communication and action is about finding ways to get our needs met and that we are all compassionate by nature. Overall, we have found the tools of NVC very helpful when speaking about difficult things in a way that is constructive rather than conflictual.
Here’s one example of an NVC process:
OBSERVATION * FEELING * NEED * REQUEST
1. State the OBSERVATIONS that are leading you to feel the need to say something. These should be purely factual observations, with no component of judgement or evaluation.
2. State the FEELING that the observation is triggering in you.
Naming the emotion, without moral judgement, enables you to connect in a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation.
3. State the NEED that is the cause of that feeling.
By tuning into the feeling, you can often find the underlying need. Stating the need, without morally judging it, gives you both clarity about what is alive in you or the other person in that moment.
4. Make a concrete REQUEST for action to meet the need just identified.
Ask clearly and specifically for what you want right now, rather than hinting or stating only what you don’t want.