page contents

Why am I speaking?

How to use Nonviolent Communication to connect with what you want and turn it into effective communication.

Nonviolent communication is built on a principle that everything a person does and says is an attempt to meet a life giving need.  This means that everything I do I am doing, on some level, for my own service. This realization empowers me to experience peace rather than resentment while I navigate relationships.  Simply by asking myself, what need of mine am I trying to meet by “being here”, “doing this”, “saying this” I take responsibility for my life and create the space for me to turn my loving heart toward my precious longings, no matter what happens.  I know that, although I may not always get my needs met, but I can always hold myself with love and compassion through my attempts.

Applying this awareness of needs to speaking empowers me to speak to others effectively, with clarity and compassion.  Just as everything I do as an attempt to meet a life giving need, so is everything I say.

Why do you and I put our thoughts and feelings into words and share them with people?  Without knowing the answer to this question, we are setting ourselves up for frustration and disappointment.

I don’t drive my car without having knowing where I am going and why I am going there.  Do you?  I am guessing if we did we might get a little frustrated or confused about where we end up. Just like driving, speaking is a tool we use to get where we want to go with our lives, and so just like driving, we are much more likely to get somewhere meaningful if we know where we want to go.

Let’s pretend Jan wants some milk. She could use her car to driving to the store OR she could use her words, calling up her honey, Jack and asking him to pick some milk up for her on his way home. Do you see how both driving and speaking are both tools she could use to meet a desire of hers? Now let’s pretend she does calls on his way home and says, “I really wish we had milk so I could make pancakes in the morning” and then Jack comes home, without milk.  She gets mad. She says, “Why didn’t you get milk at the store?! I asked for milk!” Jack responds, “uhhh, no you didn’t.” Inside her head she thinks, “He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He never listens to me!” She feels angry, frustrated and a little hopeless.

So according to my theory about being frustrated, in this situation Jan was likely not connected to what she was really wanting when she spoke to Jack on his way home. Here’s what she could have been wanting. Clearly, on the surface, she was wanting milk.  But there was so much more going on here.  Let’s imagine for Jan “pancakes in the morning” doesn’t happen every day and has a story around it.  For her, pancakes means cooking with her sweetie and taking some extra time to eat together.  It means sharing something sweet and yummy, which in turn means some sweet and yummy time together.  Let’s imagine Jan and Jack have been pretty busy, and haven’t had much relaxed time together and she is really missing that.  Now, we can see how much bigger this journey is for Jan.  It’s not just about milk, even more important than milk or pancakes is Jan's desire for intimacy in the form of warm, sweet, time with my sweetie Jack.  And there’s more!!!  Remember this thought she had, “He doesn’t care about anyone but himself! He never listens to me!”.  This is another clue as to what Jan was wanting. in her request  “He doesn’t care about himself “ let’s me know us know Jan was wanting to know she mattered and that she has Jack's support.  “He never listens to me” let’s us know Jan wanted to be heard and understood.

WOW - now we can see how something so simple as asking someone to pick up some milk could become such a big deal.  If only Jan had connected to all of this before calling Jack.  If she had she could have said this when she called him, “Hi there.  You know, I have really been missing “us” lately.  It’s been so busy. I’d really like to have a relaxing morning tomorrow, snuggle, make some pancakes, and maybe go for a walk before we head out and start our projects.  How does that sound to you?”  Do you see the difference?

Remember, if  you forget to connect with your deepest desires when you speak to others you may not get the results you want from your conversations.  It can be empowering to ask yourself, before entering into a conversation, what really matters to me in this moment?  Why am here speaking to this person?  What’s most important to me right now? 

Whatever underlying desires you have, when you bring them into your consciousness, it can dramatically change how you speak to other people, empowering you to support yourself, the other person and your relationship with your communication.

Today’s homework!

At least three times today, take a moment before me speak to someone and ask yourself, “what do I want from this conversation? What really matters to me?” and/or “what do me want to be feeling when me walk away from this conversation? And what result would help me feel that way?”

Let me know how it goes!