By Angela Nicole Brentano


The topic of communication is one that beckons attention if we want to live in a happier world, one with more human connection. Marshall Rosenberg developed a communication process called, “Compassionate Communication” (aka, “Nonviolent Communication,” abbreviated as “NVC”). From his model, I've gained insight into the process of communication.

There have been many times that it's been easy to share myself with others. Expressing difficulties, though, which relate to others, has been a challenge. What I've realized is that, sharing difficulties will be best when we think of the situation for the other person (to help extinguish negative feelings and replace them with feelings, such as compassion). We want to speak from the heart and be authentic; to habitualize self-empathy and empathy for others. We want to do this, so that we may have greater connection in our world. A fractured world is a colder, lonlier place for humans, as a social species.

From others, I have learned the following model:

I feel... (get in touch with, and state, your feelings)
When... (state your observations...aka, the facts; avoid judgements, criticisms, and name calling; refrain from “you” statements, such as “You did X wrong.”)
Because... (state why the matter is a problem for you)
Would you... (state the alternative request that you have; do not demand, but ask)

An example, using this model, is:

I felt disappointed and overwhelmed.
When I found a number of problems with our renovated home, after purchase from you.
Because I wanted to complete the needs and personalizations of the home, before having children; and I am an older woman.
Would you share your insight on how I bought a home and then the following problems were noticed (large cockroaches, mold, a behind-the-walls plumbing leak, rodents in the walls and attic, and termites) in less than two years of ownership? Also, would you help me have a relationship with you, which allows us to exchange our true and significant needs?

I question some of the values of our modern, American culture (e.g., materialism, self-agrandizement, competition, promotion of exclusive ideas of attractiveness, and the conquest of the natural world). Instead, I am practicing the values of the Native American culture (e.g., love, cooperation, honesty, humility, courage, equality for all, and living in harmony with nature). I need to live the values, which make sense to me. To figure out what I believe in, I need to think. I think that spending more time on learning and practicing effective communication skills will contribute to wellbeing for us all.