Let me just begin by saying that I do not like confrontation. No, that is simply not for me. Nor do I like it when people confront me. Nor do I like it when there is a reason for confrontation. So, for the most part, I do a good job of attempting to avoid such situations. And, when people do things that I should confront them about, I tend to shy away instead and let it slide. For those of you like me, this is not a healthy way to deal with interpersonal problems! I repeat, not healthy!
I bring this up because I am having some issues with a couple of my friends, who have been very inconsiderate both with my belongings and with my feelings. Itís not fun to suddenly have problems with people you considered great friends, but it does happen. I called my mom to talk about it and ask her advice on what I should do about it, and her advice to me was NOT to take my normal, well-trodden route of avoidance (shocker), but to try a new method of communicating problems: Non-violent communication. This method teaches that rather than pretending nothing is wrong or, opposingly, blowing things out of proportion and losing the person you have problems with completely, there is a set of steps you can take to actually resolve the issues.
The process of non-violent communication was developed by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., and provides four simple steps for honestly expressing yourself without blame or criticism. The site lists the steps (below), which are centered around the concepts of expressing observations, feelings, needs, and requests:
1. What you observe. Differentiating observation from evaluation, being able to carefully observe what is happening free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us.
2. How it makes you feel. Differentiating feeling from thinking, being able to identify and express internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment.
3. What you need. Connecting with the universal human needs/values (e.g. sustenance, trust, understanding) in us that are being met or not met in relation to what is happening and how we are feeling.
4. What you request. Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we donít want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc., rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving).
These are just the basics of the process: For more information, you should really go to the site (above) or get the book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Ph.D.
Wish me luck, Iím going to try out these steps for a calm and rational confrontation with my friends!
Note to self: Donít blame, simply express.
Lily Berthold-Bond grew up in a chemical-free zone and has struggled her whole life to understand and accept this non-commercial lifestyle. Now a sophomore at Tufts University, she has embraced her green life and hopes to share its possibilities with the rest of her generation.