A director of an academy for the teaching of non-violent communication writes in the Bible & Life about a proper manner of communicating. She begins by telling the readers that what you say next can change your world.
She is using the teaching of Marshall Rosenberg in her approach to non-violent communication. Changing the world is not an immense difficult task but one that begins with the words I choose to use. Once I understand the meaning of this I realize the power of words.
Non-violence has the same meaning that Mahatma Gandhi gave the word and its connection with compassion. The aim of non-violent conflict is to convert the other and win over
their mind and heart. Non-violent approaches seek a 'win-win' solution.
We often express our pain and deficiencies in speech. "I would wish that we were better at dialog and understanding each other," instead of: "let's divorce." If more often was heard I would like to live happily together. I am also distressed and in pain. We would probably have fewer marriage problems. Many of our problems stem from a failure in compassionate communication.
Words that I use make the world in which I live. Words change the world in which I live. In communicating with others we need to learn how to respond to words of blame, demands, threats, comparisons, thoughtless words. This is necessary both for the good of the speaker and hearer.
In non-violent conversation instead of judging, (1) we begin by observing, (2) respond with my feeling, (3) my need or desire (4) and formulate a request.
The first is to observe and not judge: "Why are you so selfish?" This is a judging and evaluating, rather: "You are eating the ice cream all alone," this is observing.
Secondly, the next step is to identify a feeling inside of you that is related to the observation. "Seeing you eat all the ice cream alone I was surprised."
The third step after observing and identifying the feeling you identify your need. "Mother wanted to have the ice cream shared with your brother" which expresses the person's desire.
The fourth step in non-violent communication is to formulate a request based on observations, feeling, and needs. With the ice cream problem, we can say: "next time you will have a concern to eat the ice cream with your brother, won't you?" A request can accept either a yes or no answer.
The writer concludes her words with a hope that we as Christians reflect on the sufferings of Jesus and not just remain with the suffering but remember the love and to let that influence the words used that will change the world.