- "Hi! Sorry, I’m late." - "You are always late and unreliable!!" - "Oh really?! That’s because you want to meet at impossible hours!!" - "Why do I even try to be on time?! You egoist!!" - "I hate you!" - "I hate you more!!”

Personal relationships and conflict

Personal relationships contribute to our happiness. But sometimes things can go wrong: we say and do things that create conflict between our loved ones and us.


There is a way to avoid or resolve conflicts, developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, Non-Violent Communication, or NVC. How does this method work, and how does it help us to be happier in our relationships?


"I care."


"I am concerned."


"I understand."


"I sympathise.”

Non Violent Communication and Compassion

NVC is based on the idea that we all have the capacity for compassion, and that we only use violence or harmful behaviour when we don’t have a more effective way to meet our needs. It tries to find a way for everyone to get what matters, without the use of coercive or manipulative language.


"I want to be loved."


"I want to show I feel with you."


"I want to be seen."


"I want to be happy.”

Three aspects of communication

NVC focuses on three aspects of communication:


  • self-empathy [awareness of your own experience];
  • empathy [understanding of the other with your heart];
  • honest self-expression [expression that inspires compassion in others].

Four aspects of Non Violent Communication

Practitioners of NVC focus in their communication on four aspects:


  1. Observation: what are you seeing, hearing or touching, without evaluating or judging?
  2. Feelings: what are your emotions, without thoughts or stories added?
  3. Needs: what do you desire, without thinking of the strategy to get there?
  4. Requests: what specific action would you like to ask, without demanding it?

Constructing our communication using NVC

The components of NVC work together. A typical NVC way of expressing something would be:


  • When you do A [observation] ...
  • … I feel B [feelings] ...
  • … because I want C [needs] ...
  • … I would appreciate it if you would be willing to do D [request].
"When you are late, I feel neglected, because I want to use my time well. I would appreciate it if you could let me know when you’re running late.”
NVC is useful for connecting with others and living in a way that is conscious, present, and in tune. And that, in the end, makes up all happier!


Written by Arlo Laibowitz

arlo.jpgArlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.



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