Book reviews

I’ve been meaning to get into the process of taking notes while reading books. Lets start with Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.

Surface thoughts

All communication must be grounded in a state of compassion towards the other person.

Four tenents of Nonviolent communication

  1. Observe: I observe the situation or concrete actions.
  2. Feeling: how the above observation makes me feel.
  3. Needs: what needs/values/desires of ours are connected to the feelings we have identified.
  4. Request: the concrete actions we request from the other person in order to enrich our lives.

Alienating types of communication

  • Moralistic judgements (blame, insults, put-downs, labels, criticisms, comparisons)
    • If 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.”
  • Denial of responsibility. We deny responsibility for our actions when we attribute their cause to
    • Our condition, diagnosis, personal or psychological history ( I drink because I am an alcoholic).
    • The actions of others. This is important in order to not come across as accusatory.
    • The dictates of authority.
  • Demands. You can never make a person do anything.

Separate observation from evaluation

  • When we combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear criticism.
  • Keep evaluations at bay: “John is angry” is an evaluation, “John shouted, pounded the table, etc…” is an observation. Furthermore, he could in fact be hurt, scared or anxious.

Identify and express your own feelings

  • But also, distinguish between feelings and thoughts. “I feel inadequate as a guitar player” is an assessment, instead of “I feel impatient/disappointed/frustrated as a guitar player” which are feelings.
  • Use words that refer to specific emotions, rather than something more general. “I feel good” could mean excited, mellow, etc..
  • Distinguish between how you feel and how you think others are reacting to behaving towards you. “I feel misunderstood” instead actually been anxious or annoyed.
  • Connect your feelings with your needs. I feel _____ because I ____ : “I’m disappointed because I was hoping to see you.”
  • Judgements of others are alienated expressions of our own unment needs. Futhermore, expressing our needs we have a better chance of having them met.

Handling a negative message

You have four option when hearing something negative: “You’re really self-centered and a trash-person”

  • Take it personally, and accept others’ judgement.
  • Blame others. “Actually, you’re the one who’s self centered”
  • Sense your own feelings and needs.
  • Sense others’ feelings and needs (the best choice).

Listening empathically

Common responses that prevent empathic listening include advising, one-upping, educating, consoling, story-telling, shutting down, sympathizing, interrogating, explaining and correcting. Intellectual understanding blocks empathy. Simply be wholly present. Listen and attempt to understand what unmet needs people are expressing.