Green Girl Confronts Communication

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.


J.L. A.
JL A6 years ago

Thanks--you are not alone in having to speak up for the basic respect you deserve from all those who respect you and/or care about you.

Ellen Cope
Ellen Cope8 years ago

Thanks so much! I'm just like you in that way, and needed that concerning a situation I'm currently stuck in:/

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago



Laura Sierra
Laura Sierra9 years ago

......hopefully, your "friends " will respond better than mine. I haven't spoken to my former best friend in years, because she did'nt take my relationship or my personal feelings seriously. personally, i find life much more peaceful without so called "friends " ( my blood pressure is better too! )

Curt J.
Curt J.9 years ago

I have to say that some of your ideals may work good in a perfect world but lets face it, we dont nor ever will live in a perfect world. The best way to deal with a situation that you cant nor want to tolerate is to just say no. Dont allow anyone to take advantave of you or your feelings. Pleak your mind and let them know how you feel. If they are a real friend then they will respect your feelings and do what it takes to reach a common ground that both of you can deal with. Instead of asking someone elses advice, ask yourself what you want. What do you need in order to feel some amount of respect and self worth. To avoid a problem is another form of lieing and deceipt for both yourself and the perpetrator. Those that dont like confrontation are alsways going to be looked upon as a pushover and will almost always be used and abused so STAND UP FOR YOUSELF NOW!!!! Rather then be someones doormat to wipe their feet on.

Esti Allina-turnauer

Communication is essential for relating and relationships. I have gained a great deal of communication skills through Landmark Education training, which, in addition to learning to express our point of view without blame, is important to LISTEN without blame. Listen to people without prejudgments or anything else going on in your head. Just shush all those little voices and truly hear the other person - the same way you wish to be heard. Let's always consider that there is another point of view besides our own. And points of view are just that - they are not necessarily right/wrong, good/bad/, true/untrue. Another point of view may help us see something that's been missing in our own way of relating to the other.

Lily C.
Lily C9 years ago

You know what, Green Girl? Thank you so much for this article. I, too, am having real troubles with my friends. I don't exactly have a true friend, but I have friends to communicate with and I'm having a bit of a trouble. I don't know is it just me or is it them but we've been ignoring each other a lot and giving each other the "silent hate signal" where we would send each other argumentative eye contacts and I could just feel the hatred between all of us. It's just so weird and I need to confront them about it. As you know, it isn't going to be easy especially like this. But I wish you luck and I wish myself luck. High school is getting icky with friends.

Christopher P.
Christopher P9 years ago

For those of us who seem to thrive in confrontation, NVC is a solid technique to get the real authentic human solution going rather than some distraction that's pretending to be what's really going on. It takes a lot of work, and people unfamiliar with it have a really hard time adjusting... and some will try to exploit your "needs" expression as if it's a weakness. Perseverance shifts that and people come around eventually.

Jean P.
Jean P9 years ago

You can join the monthly non violent communication calls sponsored by The Peace Alliance. It is a conference call facilitated by a certified instructor and costs only your long distance carrier charges. I have personally benefited from joining this group.

Maha Chehlaoui
Maha Chehlaoui9 years ago

I am like you too and had the interesting experience of learning that my avoidance and desire to smooth things over CREATED problems. This tendency of mine left my dear friend feeling stifled, unwelcome to express her anger and frustration as I was always "making it better" and resulted in her finally exploding. I try much harder now to face things head on and try to hear what is being said regardless of tone. Up to a point of course.
Good luck. I have voiced dismay twice recently and was sure I would be shunned only to be thanked for my honesty!