nvc nonviolent communication

Too sensitive

There’s this idea and once you start to think about it it’s kind of funny because it’s so absurd. The idea that some other person can do or be “too much” of something or “too little” of something and I am the all-knowing person who knows just the right amount.

So, for example, I can say, “you talk too much” because I know what the exact right amount of talk a person should do is. You talk too much / too little / too loud / too calm / too fast / too slow. You’re too emotional, too cold, too insensitive, too sensitive.
Seriously, is there anyone here who has never said or heard “you’re too sensitive” or “I’m too sensitive”? 

Let’s check the “talking too much” example first.

So, I guess we all can agree that me saying I know the exact right amount of talk a person should do is kind of absurd. Nevertheless, there are of course situations in which another person talks more that I want to hear.
That’s it. More than I want to hear at that given moment. Not because they do too much or too little of something but because I do or don’t want to hear more at that moment. Maybe another day, they might talk only a little and it is already “too much” for me. Maybe they might talk a lot more and it will still not be “too much” for me. It has nothing to do with the other person having the “correct amount” but with me only being able to take a certain amount at a given moment.
So, instead of saying “You talk too much” what if I say “I’m not able anymore at the moment to connect with what you are saying. I’m getting tired. Please stop and let us continue the conversation some other time.” 

Back to the “too sensitive” example.
I guess you’ve understood the concept now. When someone says “you’re too sensitive” it’s not that you are too sensitive. It’s just that you’re more sensitive than what the other person can manage right at that moment.
Yes, if you have grown up in an abusive family, the situations in which you’re being more sensitive than what the other person can manage right at that moment may happen more often than for persons who have grown up with non-abusive parents. It still doesn’t mean that you’re too sensitive. You’re just the natural amount of sensitive given your past experiences.
You are just being more sensitive to harsh words than the average person with a healthy self-esteem and you don’t have that self-esteem because your parent hasn’t supported you in building that up so you have to do it now yourself. You’re just being more sensitive to a lack of love or support or safety than the average person because your parent didn’t fill your inner tank with those needs when you were a child so you have to do it now yourself.
You can never be “too sensitive”. You might be more sensitive than the average person around you and in some cases it might be good, in others it might be useful to be only “as sensitive as the others” - something you should not reach by putting yourself down and “hardening up” but by connecting with the reasons beneath the sensitivity through therapy or self-help - but… anyway, who’s to say that the other persons are the “right amount” of sensitive? Particularly in a society where there’s a lack of empathy and feelings and needs are seen as weak? 

Let’s end with two of my favourite quotes:

“Parents need to fill a child’s bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can’t poke enough holes to drain it dry…”
– Alvin Price, 101 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Self-Esteem 

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
― L.R. Knost, Two Thousand Kisses a Day: Gentle Parenting Through the Ages and Stages

More: Preparing the children for a tough world


One woman came to a training I did – it was a three-day-training, fortunately ‘cause I didn’t make it too clear to her after the first day.
She came in the second day and said, “Marshall, I went home and tried it and it didn’t work!”
“Well,” I said, “let’s learn from it. Let’s hear what you actually said.”
And she did a very good job with the mechanics. She made a clear observation to her son. She noticed that he didn’t do three things that he said he was gonna do. And she expressed her feelings clearly, she expressed her needs clearly and she made a clear request.
So I said, “Well, you’ve got the mechanics right, that sounds very much like Nonviolent Communication. What’s the problem?”
She said, “He didn’t do it!”
I said, “Then, what did you do?”
“I told him he couldn’t go through life being lazy and irresponsible.”
I said, “I’m glad we’ve got two more days of this workshop because I can see that I have made the mechanics clear to you but I haven’t made clear what the purpose is. It sounds like you thought the purpose is to get what you want!”
“Well yeah!”
“That’s not the purpose of Nonviolent Communication, to 'get what you want’. It’s to create a connection that allows everybody’s needs to get met. That’s quite different. Where everybody does whatever they do willingly. That’s the purpose. Not just to get what you want.”

- Marshall Rosenberg, Beyond Good and Evil. Workshop in Würzburg, 2006.

The purpose of NVC
Information: Giraffe and jackal
NVC series: Overview

"I'm sorry."

“…except when I’m not.”

“I’m sorry” is an expression that depending on how our parents used it and depending on the circumstances and the people we say it to can have quite different meanings. For example:

1: I’m sorry. I genuinely regret what I did. I hope I don’t repeat it. Well, I’ll try not to. I’ll try to remember. Uh… can we move on now, please?
2: I’m sorry. I realise I was wrong. Ugh, I’m such a bad person. I really shouldn’t have done it, I should have known better. I’m such a failure.
3: I’m sorry. I’m sorry you understood my words/actions wrongly. That’s too bad.
4: I’m sorry. Kinda. Although truth be told I’m rather angry at you instead. I’m angry because you keep reproaching me for all the mistakes I do and don’t ever see the good things I’m trying to do.
5: I’m sorry. You’re blaming me, so I’m really starting to feel guilty about what I did. I guess you’re right. I shouldn’t have done it if you say so.
6: I’m sorry. Well, not really but if I don’t say it, there will be unpleasant consequences like punishment or guilt-tripping. So I’m saying it.
7: I’m sorry. I’m sad about what I did because I would have liked to do xxx instead. I think I know why I did it, though, so next time I’ll be better able to avoid such a reaction.

Why is it important to exactly be aware of what you mean when you say ‘I’m sorry’? And how do you talk to yourself when you’re less than perfect? That’s the topic of this post.

Keep reading

Most people refer to violence as physically trying to hurt another.
[In Nonviolent Communication, we] also consider violence any use of power over people, trying to coerce people into doing things. That would include any use of punishment and reward, any use of guilt, shame, duty and obligation. Violence in this larger sense is any use of force to coerce people to do things.
Violence is also any system that discriminates against people and prevents equal access to resources and justice to all people.

Marshall Rosenberg

NVC series: Overview

Those who object to maintaining order and resolving conflicts [without using punishment, guilt or blame] often sound like this: “Well, these kids have got to learn respect for authority! That’s what we’ve got to do, to get these kids to respect authority!” And I usually respond, “Do you want to teach kids to respect authority, or to fear what you can do to them when you’re in a position of authority?” Many of us, educated in a Domination System, are not aware of the distinction between the two.
I would define respect for authority in this way: in a classroom, if the teacher knows something that the students value, and she offers to teach it to them in a noncoercive way, they will learn to have respect for her authority. But she has earned that respect, not demanded it. The student is the final authority about whether or not the teacher has authority, a truth which students clearly demonstrate every day. Fear of authority masking as respect for authority is easy to get; just give the people with titles the legal power to mete out punishments and rewards.
—  Life-Enriching Education Nonviolent Communication Helps Schools Improve Performance, Reduce Conflict, and Enhance Relationships.
By: Rosenberg, Marshall B..
PuddleDancer Press