I've been working with the Marshall Rosenberg book "Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life”. And as you might imagine, it dovetails beautifully with Ahimsa. Rosenberg provides a concrete stepwise process to ahimsa, the yogic ethic of non-harming. This has helped me shift ahimsa from an abstract concept into actionable behavior I can practice intentionally, strengthening my emotional skills for clearly expressing how I am feeling without blaming or criticizing. To communicate with compassion.
Rosenberg defines Nonviolent communication (NVC) as the integration of:
1. Consciousness: a set of principles that support living a life of empathy, care, courage, and authenticity;
2. Languaging: Comprehending how words contribute to connection or distance;
3. Communication: Knowing how to ask for what we want, how to hear others even in disagreement, and how to move toward solutions that work for all;
4. Means of Influence: Sharing "power with others" rather than using "power over others."
Regardless of the words we’re using to express ourselves or the words we hear others use for self-expression, the NVC process entails:
1. Observing without evaluating;
2. Expressing feelings;
3. Acknowledging needs; and
4. Expressing requests.
Rosenburg provides very clear skills to increase emotional intelligence and decrease judgment of self and others.The clear communication process that he outlines ensures that we:
1. Increase our ability to live with choice, meaning, and connection;
2. Connect empathically with self and others to have more satisfying relationships;
3. Share resources to empower others so everyone is able to benefit.
The salient parts of nonviolent communication are to express ourselves honestly through the four components and to receive empathically through the four components. The essence of NVC is in our consciousness of the four components, not in the actual words that are exchanged.
This makes perfect sense when we stop to consider that over 70% of communication occurs non-verbally. NVC empowers us to take into account facial expressions, body posture, and mannerisms for a more comprehensive approach to self-expression. Observing, feeling, needing, and requesting shifts us into a space of loving compassion where we can engage with others to nourish strong connections and create healthy bonds.