Feelings and Needs Overdone?
In pursuing the study of NVC, I’ve encountered some surprising twists and turns along the path. Marshall Rosenberg and many certified NVC trainers emphasized the importance of feelings and needs at great length. It took me months to learn to think in this way. It took serious efforts to expand my small vocabulary of feelings and needs words.
Then I heard there are some strong beliefs that NVC overemphasizes feelings and needs. (Of course, words like “overdone” and “overemphasize” have judgmental overtones. A nonjudgmental way to express this would be, “Feelings and needs are emphasized more than some may like.” Please see previous post about the use of the word “too” for more on this.)
NVC Feelings and Needs Dogma
Recently on a teleconference, a very real-life issue was raised. Some trainers had heard that a company, about to hire an NVC trainer, changed its mind. They decided to go with a different form of communication training. The person who recommended against hiring an NVC trainer had been specific. He’d gathered that NVC was perceived as dogmatic in its approach.
Much to my astonishment, one of the established NVC insiders on the call expressed a passionate lament. “As a group we talk so constantly about feelings and needs!” He seemed concerned that people may feel nervous or hesitant when they hear the constant repetition of these two words. Some people hear them as all “touchy-feely.” Others may hear them as dogmatic, restricting our freedom to focus on things other than feelings and needs.
Word on the Street
I’d learned in “Street NVC” to adapt the style of expression to the people culture. In the business world, I tend to avoid the words “feelings and needs” as much as possible. I find it’s easy to just say, “I’m curious” rather than “I’m feeling curious.” I’d probably say “I’d like more accuracy and reliability of data” rather than “I need more accuracy and reliability of data.”
A Revealing Truth
Just a couple days ago I had the pleasure of being on another NVC teleconference. Four seasoned NVC trainers shared with deep authenticity and humility. They spoke about what they’d have done differently when they started out as trainers.
Robert Gonzalez said, in effect, that he’d have focused less on the “NVC Model.” He would have preferred to make NVC his own. To share it in a way that is unique to him and his own heart. To be more present in the actual moment of teaching or training, to make it more authentic.
I’m hopeful that many more NVC trainers will develop the inner confidence that Mr. Gonzalez has found. That more trainers will make this practice their own. To find their unique inner creativity when presenting NVC to the world.
Note: NVC is an abbreviation for Nonviolent Communication, a fluid, ever-evolving language process created by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg. It is also referred to as Compassionate Communication. It’s based on universal human feelings and needs, the giving of empathy and making humble requests rather than demands. For more on services offered by Steve Pollack, please visit www.mediation-usa.net
In the Miami area? You can attend Steve’s NVC Support Group by visiting www.nvccoachmiami.com
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I’m confused about what you’re trying to get at in “Word on the Street”. As one example (in a business setting), you say “I’d probably say ‘I’d like more accuracy and reliability of data’ rather than ‘I need more accuracy and reliability of data.'” From the context (“I’d learned in ‘Street NVC’ to adapt the style of expression”), I gather that you’d think of “more accuracy and reliability of data” as an NVC-style (universal) need–rather than a (dispensible) strategy–and that you’re just rephrasing to eliminate the word “need”. Am I reading you accurately? Do you then not wonder about what NVC-style (universal) needs would be under a strategy like more accuracy and reliability of data?
Similarly, whether you say “I’m curious” or “I’m feeling curious”, do you mean that you think of curiosity as the feeling (in the NVC sense) even if you omit the word “feeling”? I’d still wonder what emotion/feeling lies under curiosity, e.g., anxiety or excitement. In a business setting, I sometimes focus on doings rather than beings and connection, so I might choose not voice this emotion, but I’d still want to foster my self-connection by going deeper than curiosity.
Reading your thoughtful comments, I felt grateful and intrigued. It
clearly met needs for appreciation and understanding of the intentions
behind my blog entry.
In paragraph one of your comment, yes, you are reading me accurately.
In paragraph two, yes, I was just looking at ways to eliminate the
word, “feeling,” in a business setting. I find it interesting that
you mention going deeper than just curiosity, to see what is really
alive in the moment, in that kind of situation.
Even though many NVC practitioners alter their style for communicating
in the business world, it seems to me there are many different kinds of
businesses and organizations. In some of them, the word “feeling” may
fit easily, in others not so much. Some may be more compatible with
doings rather than beings, and some not.
Even in a high-stress, high-pressure business environment, I hope that
human beings still retain the ability to connect on some level through
feelings and needs.