Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg

One of my colleague from Marqeta first told me about this book, so I put it into my top queue for to-read list. Then couple of weeks back in a company offsite, our CEO Jason Gardner mentioned this book. So as soon as I was done with How Google Works, I started this book.




I found this book very thought provoking. It's a philosophy of life that can be of practical use at any place and time. The author talks about how to build new narratives so that we get rid of blame games and instead pay attention to the needs of people and ourselves. Here are some sample ways that we can use to communicate in a nonviolent compassionate way. You may initially find it a bit difficult or unreal but with time it will become natural I hope.
  • Can I interrupt you for a moment? There's something going on in me.
    • Use it when you want to interrupt someone because you dont want to listen any more.
  • Do you have space to listen to me for like 10 minutes?
    • Use it when you want someone to listen to you.
  • How would it be for you to do this?
    • Use it instead of can you do this for me or do you want to do this for me?
  • Would you be willing to try out this strategy for X amount of time?
    • Use it when you want to request someone to do something that might be challenging for that person.
  • Can I think about it and let you know tomorrow?
    • Use it when you are not sure to say full yes and need time to think on it.
  • I would really love to find a way to get both of our needs met.
    • Use it when you are in a delicate situation, thinking you or the other person might be triggered.
  • I would prefer to do X because I have a need for Z.
    • Use it when you want to say No to someone. Instead of saying no, propose this as an alternative.

I highly recommend reading this. Here are some quotes from the book.
  • “At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled.” 
  • “Peace cannot be built on the foundations of fear.”
  • “Analyses of others are actually expressions of our own needs and values.”
  • “In this stage, which I refer to as emotional slavery, we believe ourselves responsible for the feelings of others. We think we must constantly strive to keep everyone happy. If they don’t appear happy, we feel responsible and compelled to do something about it. This can easily lead us to see the very people who are closest to us as burdens.”
  • “Blaming and punishing others are superficial expressions of anger.”
  • “Focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed rather than on diagnosing and judging,”
  • “I define judgments—both positive and negative—as life-alienating communication.”
  • “My partner wants more affection than I’m giving her, she is needy and dependent. But if I want more affection than she is giving me, then she is aloof and insensitive.”
  • “There is considerably less violence in cultures where people think in terms of human needs than in cultures where people label one another as good or bad and believe that the bad ones deserve to be punished.”