Is NVC a Language “Model” or Process?

This post is a response to an article written by Estrella Brighid. She shared her recent struggle with conforming to the classic NVC format of Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests (OFNR). Attending an NVC retreat in California, she experimented with letting go of rigid perfectionism, letting her consciousness shine through her choice of words. Despite initial fears of people judging her, or getting lost in her own judgments, it turned out she was relieved and delighted. She managed to find satisfying connections with other NVC practitioners while speaking naturally.

My response:

Bravo, Estrella! It was rigidly demanding OFNR perfectionists who stimulated a deep fear in me (that I’d never be able to master this language) which tempted me to ditch NVC just weeks after I first got interested in it. I came from a background of hatha yoga, which is largely about flexibility. I’m glad I stuck with the NVC practice as so much learning has come from it. I do understand why some trainers persist in teaching OFNR, because it is like playing scales on the piano. If you master the basics first, then you can improvise more effectively. But if NVC newbies hear the repeated requests to learn OFNR as demands…then it can be a huge turn-off.

There seems to be a lot of confusion around use of the word “model.” Certified NVC trainers keep using this word, “model,” to describe NVC and OFNR, yet Marshall himself has clearly indicated that he sees it as a “process” and not a model. Model implies an image of perfection which is fully set, with a sense of right form and wrong form; Process implies a flowing, organic unfolding and evolution of language based in changes in people and their consciousness, with no right or wrong. As Sija wrote in her very truthful comment, there is a huge temptation to use OFNR to get what we want from others, if we forget to weigh their needs as equal to our own. This is especially true when we are new to the practice of NVC. I was so happy to read of your recent retreat experience…it speaks to what is going on in my local practice group, and perhaps with many other groups around the world. Met needs for encouragement and support for the use of natural language, while still retaining NVC consciousness between the lines. Thank you!

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I’m an independent mediator and collaborative communication coach who can help you to co-create greater ease, connection and mutual understanding in your personal and professional relationships. As a non-traditional specialist, my aim is to get concrete results for my clients in a fraction of the time usually required by traditional therapy and counseling. Please visit my business website: . The emotion-based coaching work I do is deeply therapeutic, yet I am neither a psychologist nor a psychotherapist. Instead I work with a holistic, empathic process called compassionate, nonviolent communication. I also facilitate ongoing support groups for people who want to learn this organic process of nonjudgmental communication to help build bridges of connection, harmony, collaboration and understanding. For more about my Build Compassionate Relationships meetup group, visit: . I’ve been offering these services to the public since 2000 in the greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale area, as well as by phone and through Skype conferencing. . Nonviolent Communication is a process developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It’s based on a very pure, nonjudgmental language of feelings, needs and requests. I’ve found this to be a powerful tool in my mediation work which involves bringing two or more people together despite a painful history of conflict.
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