court certified batterer intervention and anger management ​programs for Santa Barbara County 


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​Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a process of communication
created by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. It is a compilation of
​ideas about compassionate human behavior, packaged to meet the

needs of modern times.

Observations: Description of what is seen or heard without added

interpretations. For example, instead of “She’s having a temper tantrum,”

you could say “She is lying on the floor crying and kicking.” If referring

to what someone said quote as much as possible instead of rephrasing.

Feelings: Our emotions rather than our story or thoughts about what others are doing. For example, instead of “I feel manipulated,” which includes an interpretation of another’s behavior, you could say “I feel uncomfortable.” Avoid the following phrasing: “I feel like . . . “ and “I feel that…” — the next words will be thoughts, not feelings.

Needs: Feelings are caused by needs, which are universal and ongoing and
not dependent on the actions of particular individuals. State your need rather
than the other person’s actions as the cause. For example, “I feel annoyed 
because I need support” rather than “I feel annoyed because you didn’t do the dishes.”

Requests: Asking concretely and clearly for what we want (instead of what
we don’t want). For example, “Would you be willing to come back tonight at
the time we’ve agreed?” rather than “Would you make sure not to be late
again?” By definition, when we make requests we are open to hearing a “no,”
taking it as an opportunity for further dialogue.

Empathy: In NVC, we empathize with others by guessing their feelings and
needs. Instead of trying to “get it right,” we aim to understand. The observation
and request are sometimes dropped. When words are not wanted or are hard
​to offer, empathy can be offered silently.

Self-Empathy: In self-empathy, we listen inwardly to connect with our own feelings and
​needs. It is that connection which enables us to choose our next step.

For example, “I feel disappointed that you cancelled at the last minute” rather than “You’ve let me down again”.

Clearly express how you feel

  • Mind-reading and assuming others know what you want can create all sorts of problems. When you hint rather than make a clear statement, 

people don’t always get the message.

  • Similarly, when you ramble on rather than state your thoughts clearly, people may not get the message. So, if there is something that you need to say it’s helpful to tell it as it is. Don’t hint.

Do it now

  • If there’s an issue you need to raise or a situation that needs to be resolved, deal with it as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it gets, and the more tension builds up.
  • The only exception to this rule is if you feel very angry, and can’t trust yourself to stay calm when you talk about it.
  • In this situation, it’s often a good idea to have a cooling off period before you raise the issue. Doing this prevents conflict and reduces the likelihood that you’ll say things you’ll regret. Take as long as you need.

Ask for clarification

  • Just as people can’t always read your mind, sometimes it is difficult to interpret what someone else is thinking or feeling.
  • If you’re confused about the message you’re receiving, check it out with the other person. Asking for clarification helps to prevent misunderstandings.

For example, a friend seems withdrawn and you suspect they are angry with you. You say: “You seem quiet. Have I done something to upset you?” or “Is everything OK?”

  • Checking it out with them can help bring the issue to the surface (if there is one), then you can talk about it.
  • On the other hand, if there’s actually nothing wrong, talking about it will ease your concerns.
  • Acknowledge your discomfort in raising an issue
  • If you feel uncomfortable raising a particular issue, it can be helpful to let the other person know this.

For example: “Look Sam, I feel really awkward about bringing this up but…” or “Alex, I need to talk to you about something and I’m feeling nervous about it. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but if I don’t say anything, I think I’ll continue to feel upset.”

  • By honestly referring to your discomfort, you lower the temperature, reducing the likelihood that the other person will become hostile or defensive.

Be aware of your body language

  • The way you speak – including the volume and tone of your voice, physical gestures, and facial expressions, all have an important impact on how your message will be received.
  • If you fold your arms in front of your chest, have a stern expression on your face or speak in an accusing tone, the other person is likely to feel defensive even before they’ve heard what you have to say.
  • An open posture, a calm voice, and relaxed body language helps the other person to feel at ease. This allows your message to be delivered in a non-threatening way.

Communicate positive feelings

  • Developing good relationships means being able to express positive feelings at times. We often assume that people know that we like them or appreciate what they do for us, so we don’t tell them.
  • However, people aren’t mind-readers. If we don’t tell them, they don’t always know (even if they do know, it’s still nice to hear someone say nice things every now and then!)
  • Communicating positive feelings towards others lets them know we value them and helps to strengthen relationships.
  • Warm feelings can be expressed as a whole message. For example: “Jo, the other day when I was upset you asked me if I was OK. It was really good to talk to you. I just wanted to say thanks – you’ve been a good friend.”
  • Alternatively, you can communicate warm feelings by making simple statements such as: “Thanks for being there for me the other day” or “You’ve been a good friend, I really appreciate it.”

REMEMBER, You have the right to:

  • express your opinion
  • say “no”
  • make mistakes
  • change your mind
  • disagree with others
  • ask for what you want
  • be treated with respect
  • not take responsibility for other people’s problems