Hey, it’s Graham here again and if you were to ask me the question, “What’s one book that you could read that would help you to improve your communication skills, get on better with women and men, help you deal with conflict better, make you a better person, just make your life flow more easily and generally improve the quality of life here on the planet?”, one book every human should read is this one.
It’s called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg. Let me try to hold it straight. And I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. In fact, I would say if you are only able to read one book on personal development or self-help or whatever, how to live a better life, anything, how to self-actualize, this would be the book to read.
Now, I found this book tremendously helpful in dealing with a recent conflict situation that I got into with my parents, and the trouble with dealing with conflict from my perspective is that when I’m very triggered, particularly when I’m feeling angry or I’m feeling assaulted or under threat, it’s very difficult to remain present and to say things that are constructive when a big part of me just wants to tear my opponent to pieces and rip them to shreds and say really hurtful things.
Well, that’s not constructive. It never goes well. All that does is escalate the conflict and lead to more hurtful criticism and conflict and guilt feelings later when I’ve said terrible things that I regret.
Now, the model in this book allows us to deal with conflict and communicate much more easily in a way that’s much more natural. The problem is that a lot of us guys have been socialized to communicate in ways that are quite unnatural and don’t actually reveal anything that’s going on inside of us, and as a result we end up not being understood, we don’t end up getting our needs met and we don’t get what we want from other people.
So the basic model behind nonviolent communication consists of two things; firstly feelings and secondly needs. And the idea is that you learn the ability to identify what you’re feeling and what you’re needing, and also what the other person you’re communicating with is feeling and what they’re needing.
Nonviolent Communication also has fairly simple language where you learn to express how you’re feeling and what you’re needing. Feelings are basically the basis of empathy, so you’re expressing what’s going on for you emotionally and also identifying what’s going on emotionally in the other person that you’re communicating with.
Doing this leads to a much deeper connection between you because you’re now communicating from the heart rather than from the head, and once you have an empathic connection with somebody else it’s then very easy to tell them what it is that you’re needing or make requests from them that they can either go along with or not go along with depending on how they’re feeling and what they’re needing.
Also they can tell you what they’re feeling and what they’re needing and then you can decide whether you would like to connect with them and whether you would like to offer them something that might meet the needs that they are requesting from you.
And the whole idea behind this is that if everybody were to communicate this way, then there’s a much greater chance that everybody would be able to get their needs met without having to resort to strategies that are abusive or violent or degrade other people and just generally make life more difficult than it needs to be.
One of the things I particularly like about nonviolent communication is that it works even when the people who you’re communicating with are not familiar with this way of communicating and are not practicing it. For instance, in the big argument that I got into with my parents, they basically started standing up, jumping up and down, screaming abuse at me, saying all sorts of nasty, hurtful things to me, and I found that tremendously challenging to deal with.
However, by applying some of the tools of nonviolent communication, I was able to recognize how they were feeling and what they were needing in that moment so that I didn’t have to take all that screaming abuse quite so personally and was able to respond in ways that I would look back on later with pride, rather than with shame. So even when I’m being assaulted with screaming abuse, I was able to say, “Look, this is how I’m feeling right now and this is what I’m wanting from you. I’m feeling very angry and I’m wanting to sit down and continue this discussion in a way that’s respectful and doesn’t involve criticizing me.”
Of course I said that rather more forcefully at the time because I was very angry, and once again when I’m very angry it’s particularly difficult to stay centered and to say the things that are really important to me, rather than just resorting to childish criticism and put-downs and the kind of things that I’m being attacked with if I’m in that sort of situation.
Now, in order to do that when I’m very triggered, I found it very helpful to practice nonviolent communication with other people in situations where I’m not triggered. So when it’s much easier to relate on the basis of how I’m feeling and what I’m needing, I’ve found that talking to other people who are familiar with this form of communication is a tremendous way to learn to practice it so that when I get into situations that are tense or involve conflict or where I feel very anxious or angry, then I’m still able to communicate in a way that I feel is respectful and that doesn’t lead me into a cycle of guilt later when I have said things that I regret.
So I highly recommend that you grab a copy of this book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. You can get it from Amazon by clicking the link below this video. And put it into practice because I promise this way of communicating will change your life. It will vastly improve your communication, your relationships, particularly with women.
It allows you to build empathic relationships where you actually feel like you want to help other people because you start feeling a sense of love for them, rather than doing things out of obligation, which kind of sucks.
If you’re interested in practicing it, you can get in touch with me. I can help you do that. It also talks about empathy. If you want to get an empathy buddy, I can help you with that. So get in touch, read the book and particularly let me know what you think. Talk soon.