(Note: NVC is an abbreviation for Nonviolent Communication, a fluid, ever-evolving language process created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is also sometimes referred to as Compassionate Communication, and is based on universal human feelings and needs, and making humble requests rather than demands.)
Compassionate Communication sometimes is more effective when you are very persistent, yet in a humble, truthful, non-demanding way, because it shows respectful compassion for others even when they are just following their job training and not being very truthful with you.
Here’s a brief dialogue from a real-life experience I had trying to use NVC with a large bank here in Miami.
“NVC in Real Life”
STEVE: As you know I closed out this savings account last year. When I see that I’m still being charged penalties every month for having too small a balance in the account, I feel confounded and annoyed as to why in the heck there are three cents in the account that I *closed* last year. I’m needing some clear understanding as to why. I’m also needing some fairness. Can you explain?
BANK EMPLOYEE: Well, evidently when you closed the account, the three cents of interest was posted automatically and that kept your savings account open. We have rules about minimum balances, so we can’t do anything about the penalties.
STEVE: Why not? I had a problem 20 years ago and the manager took care of it right away with a smile and with no problems, right here in this branch office.
BANK EMPLOYEE: We have these rules which we gave you a copy of when you opened the account, and we send out updates to you as well. So we just can’t.
STEVE: So are you concerned that if you help me out here, you’d then have to get rid of that important rule and lose a lot of money?
BANK EMPLOYEE: Yes, exactly.
STEVE: Would you do me a favor and ask the manager if he’d be willing to help me out here?
BANK EMPLOYEE: (3 MINUTES LATER) He said he can’t help you out because of the rules. We must follow these rules. It simply cannot be done.
STEVE: Are you a little frustrated with me because it appears I don’t respect your bank’s institutional rules?
BANK EMPLOYEE: Well, maybe a little.
STEVE: Actually I do respect rules, and in fact as a board member in my condo association I created a number of rules, so I know the need for rules sometimes. Is this rule of your bank to help protect the bank from losing money?
BANK EMPLOYEE: Yes, exactly, I’m glad you understand.
STEVE: Well, you said you absolutely cannot help me because of the rule, but is that the whole truth? Isn’t it really that the manager just doesn’t *want* to help me, but she could if she wanted to make an exception out of compassion, being that I’ve been with your bank for 25 years?
EMPLOYEE: We just can’t, because of the rule.
STEVE: Okay, please show me if that is really true. Tell the bank manager this has been my only bank for over 25 years. I have a relationship with this bank that I’d really like to preserve. But if you simply cannot help me because of this one rule, as much as I’d rather not deal with the hassles of changing banks, I will close my account and go elsewhere with my money.
EMPLOYEE: (TWO MINUTES LATER) The manager said he will refund you all the penalty fees from the whole year and they should post by tomorrow afternoon.
STEVE: Thank you so much! (This next part I did not think to say, but I kind of wish I had, even though it would be out of spite and not very NVC in tone): Now, does this mean that what you were telling me just a few minutes ago was not really true at all? In other words, were you just bullshitting me?