What is Nonviolent Communication? (& 3 Communication Tips)

< back to blogs
Published Date|
December 28, 2023

What is Nonviolent Communication? (& 3 Communication Tips)

Have you ever met someone who was just impossible to talk to?

They dominate the conversation, make passive-aggressive remarks, and fail to even consider how you might be impacted by their words.

We don’t always think of communication as something that can be violent - but poor communication can often be more harmful than we realize.

Here at KMA Therapy, we know how important communication is to all of your relationships, from platonic, to familial, to romantic. We’re passionate about equipping you with the tools and techniques to help you thrive in your life and relationships.

After reading this article, you’ll know what non-violent communication is, why it’s important, and three effective communication tips.

What is Nonviolent Communication?

Non-violent communication (NVC) is a way to communicate with others with compassion. It was created by American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, PhD.

what is non-violent communication

NVC means that in every conversation, the main goal is to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

Rather than judging or blaming the other person, you focus on what you need and what they need from a situation, and work together to achieve it in a way that works for everyone.

The four components of non-violent communication are:

  • Consciousness: Focusing on compassion, collaboration, courage, and authenticity
  • Language: Exploring how the words you use impact how much you connect (or fail to connect) with someone else
  • Communication: Learning how to ask for what you want and hear what others are asking you for; finding common ground
  • Means of influence: Sharing your power with other people instead of holding your power over others

What are the Goals of Nonviolent Communication?

When using non-violent communication, you focus on three primary goals.

The three goals of nonviolent communication are:

  • Choice: Increasing your ability to make choices that influence the life you want to live
  • Empathy: Increasing your empathy for yourself and for others to have better relationships
  • Sharing resources: Sharing your social, emotional, and physical resources in a way that allows more people to benefit

Why Do We Need Effective Communication?

Effective communication can help you get what you want out of conversations while ensuring you don’t accidentaly harm others in the process.

Non-violent communication can help you:

  • Deepen your relationship with yourself
  • Build more meaningful connections
  • Communicate with intention

3 Ways to Incorporate Non-Violent Communication Into Your Life

After learning about non-violent communication, you might be curious about how you can start communicating in a new way.

Try out these three tips to get started.

1. Don’t assume how others feel

You’ve probably seen this trope a hundred times on tv.

Someone says, “Explain your feelings using an ‘I’ statement,” and they get a response along the lines of, “I feel like you’re incompetent!”

A lot of the time, it’s easy to accidentally express your feelings in terms of how you assume others are feeling.

Before you tell someone how you feel, make sure you’re focusing on your feelings.

For example, if you feel like you’re being ignored in a relationship:

  • Don’t say: I feel like you’re ignoring me
  • Instead, say: I feel sad when we don’t communicate every day

This opens up the opportunity for the other person to share their feelings and come to a solution together, without making them assume the blame for the situation.

2. Use the OFNR method

A main technique in NVC is the OFNR: Observation, Feeling, Need, and Request.

When faced with a difficult situation, apply these four steps:

  1. Observe: Observe the situation without judging or interpreting it
  2. Feel: Explore how the situation makes you feel - are you sad? Frustrated? Confused?
  3. Need: Figure out the needs that are causing each of these feelings (i.e. does your sadness come from a need to feel valued?)
  4. Request: Express your needs clearly - address the situation, how it makes you feel, and what you need to move forward. Make sure to listen to their side of the story!

3. Make self-awareness a priority

It’s hard to clearly express your needs if you don’t even understand what they are.

See how you feel about these self-reflection questions - are any hard to answer? What areas do you need to reflect on even more? 

  • What feelings are you the most comfortable with?
  • How do you react when you feel an intense emotion?
  • Is there a certain emotion you’re comfortable accepting and feeling?
  • Are you comfortable supporting others when they’re experiencing a difficult emotion?
  • Do you often take the time to reflect on how you think and feel, or do you tend to push your emotions down and distract yourself?

Next Steps for Effective Communication

After reading this article, you know what non-violent communication is and three ways to start practising it in your daily life.

Here at KMA Therapy, we know it can be hard to express yourself - so we’re always here if you need someone to listen.

Register online to start your therapy journey, or read our Therapy 101 Guide to learn how therapy can work for you.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, we’ve chosen these articles for you:

About the Author

Emily Weatherhead has a Masters in Community Psychology from Wilfrid Laurier University, where her research focused on improving post-secondary student mental health. She is passionate about finding new ways to make mental health research more accessible and break down the barriers that prevent people from receiving mental health care.

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
No items found.
KMA Therapy

Register Online

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Or, are you all set and ready to book?

Choose from available times and book your intake now.

Ontario's Premier Counselling Practice

Therapy has been proven to increase happiness, reduce anxiety, and increase overall fulfillment. Our team of specialized therapists are here to help you work through the issues that are important to you.