Building community in a changing world

November 14, 2022

Understanding the NVC Model

Here’s an excerpt from the “30 Day Challenge” offered by “The Antiracist Table” about how the NVC (nonviolent communication) model works: Understanding the need starts with seeing what happened without judgment and criticism. In other words, sticking to the facts. From there, one has to identify what they feel. NVC’s four main components:

1. Observations – What happened? Stick to what is factual. Avoid the characterization and judgment we are prone to. Describe what happened as if you were an uninvolved observer.

2. Feelings – Label the feelings coming up. Use the feelings list to help increase your emotion vocabulary. Feelings fall into two categories, unmet and met. Remember, feelings are not good or bad, they are information that can help you understand the underlying need. Labeling feelings can also take away some of their power.

3. Needs – Get to the heart of the conflict–what matters most to you and the other person in the conflict. Remember, “everything we do, we do to meet a need.”

4. Requests – Ask for what you want using a request, not a demand. A demand prompts criticism, judgment, and defensiveness. A request shows empathy towards the other person’s needs.

As part of NVC you work through steps 1 – 3 for yourself and then you work through steps 2 and 3 for the person involved in the conflict. When someone shows you that they see/hear your needs it can be very powerful–it can disarm the angriest of people; it can soften the hardest mindset. Start using these skills in low stakes conversations together with your AntiRacist Mindfulness Practices (being aware of what is happening in the present moment in a nonjudgmental way) and spend time each day reviewing the feelings and needs list to improve your feelings and needs vocabulary.