Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a compassionate way of talking to others. You make emotion-free observations and requests instead of demands and judgments.

Making an Observation and Expressing Your Feelings

NVC has defined steps that help you communicate. The first is to make an observation. Here, you state impartial facts. Make sure to leave emotion out of it. For example, instead of saying your spouse is always late and not thoughtful, state that they were late to dinner tonight. 

The second step requires you to tell them how you feel and why. "When you are late for dinner, I worry about you." 

How Making Specific Requests Help NVC

Explain what you need from your partner and make a specific request. By being clear about what you want, you leave no room for misunderstanding. "I need you to be home on time for dinner. I'll set the table at 7, can you be here by then?"

When making a request: 

  • Keep the request positive. Use language like "I'd like you to," instead of "Stop doing this because I hate it."

  • Try to use direct, concise language. For example, if you are asking your partner to spend more time with you, don't communicate in vague terms. Instead, say you want to go to dinner together on Saturday night. 

  • Ask the other person to repeat back to you the main idea of your request. That way, you can both be sure that they understood what you want. 

  • If you accompany your request with harsh language, threats, or ultimatums, it will come off as a demand. 

  • Don't try to manipulate the other person with rewards or punishments. 

NVC should involve open communication with neither party being afraid to speak their mind.