Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a method of speaking to others that focuses on compassion instead of judgment. Expressing your feelings can make NVC more effective.

Understanding NVC

NVC has four main steps:

  1. Observation: You list specific observations, data, and facts. 

  2. Feeling: You state how you feel. 

  3. Need: You explain the underlying need or motivation behind your feelings. 

  4. Request: You make a specific request that addresses your needs. 

How Expressing Feelings Helps NVC

Expressing yourself can be scary, but it can also be empowering. By making your feelings clear, you can get to the root of the issue and resolve your problems using NVC. 

Example of Effective NVC

Let's say you want to talk to your spouse about spending more time at home with the family instead of going out drinking with their friends. 

  • Start with making a neutral observation -- You are often not home before the kids go to bed. 

  • Next, express your feelings. Focus on how you feel, not on the negative qualities of the other person -- When your spouse gets home late, it makes you feel like you're not a priority in his or her life. You might also express that you feel exhausted after taking care of the children by yourself all day. 

  • Third, say what you need -- You need your partner to come home earlier to spend time with you and the children. Again, leave judgment out of it. 

  • Finally, make an explicit request -- Your partner be home by 6 pm at least three days a week. Make it specific and leave no room for doubt.

By identifying how you're feeling, you help lay the groundwork to create solutions and reduce the risk of miscommunication.