We’ve all been there: so desperate to avoid the discomfort and frustration of a difficult conversation that we’re willing to skip it altogether. Oftentimes, we bring so much emotion to a difficult conversation that we forget what it is we were trying to get across in the first place. What if there were a way to remain calm and conversational while also feeling truly heard and understood?

Want some practice before the workshop? Here are the basic steps to NVC:

1. What am I observing?

  • Leave the stories we write in our heads behind and think about the hard facts of the situation. Observations include things you physically see or hear. Be careful to leave out generalizations or opinions— this can be tricky!
  • For example, “When I come home after a long day at work and I see the kitchen is a mess- dirty pots and pans filling the sink…” rather than “When I come home after a long day at work and see that you don’t care about our home…”

2. What am I feeling as a result?

  • Try to tie what you observed to a basic feeling, emotion or sensation you experienced as a result. Stay in your experience, using phrases like “I feel” rather than “you make me feel”
  • For example, “When I come home after a long day at work and I see the kitchen is a mess- dirty pots and pans filling the sink- I feel disappointed…”

Oftentimes, we bring so much emotion to a difficult conversation that we forget what it is we were trying to get across in the first place.

3. What are the needs or values at the core of how I’m feeling?

  • Take a moment to self reflect and get to your bigger WHY. What basic need is not being met that has created this feeling within you? Can’t think of a need? Here’s a list to help you brainstorm.
  • For example, “When I come home after a long day at work and I see the kitchen is a mess- dirty pots and pans filling the sink- I feel disappointed because I have a need of consistency and consideration in the home.”

4. Make a request.

  • Without demanding, make a reasonable request of the other person.
  • For example, “When I come home after a long day at work and I see the kitchen is a mess- dirty pots and pans filling the sink- I feel disappointed because I have a need of consistency and consideration in the home. Would you be willing to put your dishes in the dishwasher before I get home from work?”