Do you struggle when you have to communicate something difficult or complex to a co-worker, partner, associate or employee? Start your year off right with this simple formulaic approach that enables you to include all the must-have elements in your communication and make it easier for you to say what you need to say. Elephants in the room adds stress to an already stressful time for us all. Out, I say! Speak up and abolish them. Here’s how…
Firstly, although I am not an NVC (Non-violent Communication) expert, I have attended numerous course and workshops and have a good understanding of the key elements. I am still working on honing my NVC skills. It’s like learning to play Chess; learning it is easy, becoming adept takes practice. Here’s the formula:
I See, I Feel, I Need, I Ask. It’s that simple. When you communicate these four elements honestly and authentically, you communicate in a non-judgmental, unbiased way that opens the door for further dialogue, rather than slamming it shut. Your partner in this communication, the recipient, will by human nature be more inclined to open up rather than shut down. Here’s how it works:
I See: Say what you observe as though you are strictly an observer. Leave assumption out. I see that you are struggling. I see that you were unable to finish your work. I see that you have a lot on your plate. I see that the car didn’t get washed. I see some conflict with your co-worker. I see that you have come into work late 3 times this week. I saw that our patient was unhappy when he left. Do you hear that these are strictly observations without judgement or finger pointing or assumption.
I Feel: State what emotion you are feeling. Stick to emotive words such as angry, confused, sad, disappointed, surprised, happy, proud. Avoid non-feeling words (I feel like you should do better, I feel that you could have tried harder, I feel sick about it, etc.) If it helps, Google a feelings list, or Feeling Wheel chart to see which words are actual feelings and which are NOT! This is important. You are looking inward here, not pointing outward. What emotion do you actually feel?
I Need: What need of yours isn’t being met? What is lacking or missing for YOU? I need to know that all my employees are safe, I need my practice to run smoothly, I need a positive patient experience to be paramount, I need everyone to try to get along, I need to be able to rely on you, I need to know you are OK, etc. Avoid sentences such as, “I need you stop being late, I need you to be a better team player, I need you to get your work done”. What are YOUR real needs. This can take some introspection to be able to identify what need of yours is at stake. As a coach, I help clients all the time with this concept and sometimes it requires pulling away the layers like an onion to get to the heart of the matter!
I Ask: Make a request of your recipient. It could be as simple as “I ask that you be mindful of other’s feelings. I ask that you be at work on time. I ask that you be honest with me. I ask that you let me know when your workload is overwhelming you. I ask that you refrain from gossiping about other staff members”, etc. Think carefully about what it is specifically that you are requesting that would alter or solve the situation.
This kind of direct, non-judgmental communication does take some practice although the formula is simple. I often suggest that client’s sit with pen and paper (or in a coaching session) and work out what they actually want to say before they say it. I have heard very skilled NVC folks speak in relationships using this formula and it’s a beautiful thing! Try it – at home, with your spouse or kids, and then take it on in to the workplace!