It is common knowledge of my dislike of snow, but what’s worse is this heat! Whilst I love going on holiday and basking in the sun,  It is normally accompanied by a pina colada and a dip every 10 minutes in the pool. Needless to say travelling on the central line in stifling heat has not been my preferred mode of travel. Don’t even get me going about sweaty people!

Apart from the heat the last couple of weeks I have been quite happy going about my usual activities. I am pleased to say that I have now completed my first course as an Accredited Kanban Trainer (AKT) and felt it went really well. All the feedback was positive and I got to sleep in a four poster bed for the first time.

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Last week we hosted the Agile Coaching Exchange (ACE) with Bob Marshall as our guest speaker for the evening. The topic of conversation was Non Violent Communication (NVC).

It was the first time we strayed into the more softer skills at the ACE and it seems to go down very well.

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So what is Non Violent communication?

So violence in this context is not about me physically assaulting someone, but it is about me getting others to do my will through fear, obligation or guilt (FOG).

So how many times have you been in a situation where:

  1. You went to the pub with your friend when you really fancied a night in, but they convinced you otherwise.
  2. Worked late or weekends to deliver a project when you really wanted to spend time with your family, when asked by a supervisor.
  3. Done a little extra at work as you are led to believe it will help you to secure a promotion or pay rise.

If you answered yes to any of the above, the chances are you have been subjected to a violent communication style.

It normally is delivered in the following key steps:

  • The Demand – “The board and I have been looking at your report and wondered if you can you get your team to work at the weekend as the project is running behind”.
  • The Resistance – You might ask if you can investigate other options, such as going to back to the stakeholders and reconsidering timescales or scope.
  • The Pressure & Threats – This request is met with reluctance and you are reminded that promotions and pay rises are coming up soon and getting this extremely important project over the line would be taken into consideration.
  • Compliance – If you don’t do this then your lively hood is threatened (even though this is not explicitly stated).

I can honestly say I have never used such as extreme examples as above, but I have used cohesion or blackmail to get others to do what I want. I am a woman of course Smile

I can only imagine though that the person on the end of the example feels as if they really have no choice but to comply.  How about if we had tackled the situation as follows:

  • Observation – “I see from your weekly report that the project is running behind”
  • Feelings – “ I am worried that we have made commitments to a third party and won’t be able to deliver on time. This could impact their impression on the company and it is important to us and our shareholders that we secure further business from them in the future”
  • The Need – “I need to understand how we can get the project back on track and can you help me to understand what the options are?”
  • The Request – Can you work with me to pull some information together to help us make a decision?”

Whilst these are extreme examples, in the second option the decision has not been made already and outside the control of the team. The team might well have decided to work the weekend but that would not have been through Fear, Obligation or Guilt. But through choice.

By using the 4 steps above we can really evaluate our communication style and start to consider what needs do I have, and what are the needs of the other person. When the needs of one person is put above the other, then violent communication is very much happening.

Another example of violent communication is judgement.

How many times have you judged a person by their size, shape, clothes or background?

It’s hard not to in many situations, but ultimately you are projecting your needs and insecurities on others and therefore you are acting violently towards them.

The subject on NVC is so broad and comprehensive, I have only touched the tip of the iceberg here and based on what I heard from Bob last week. There is a lot of literature out there and I know I am certainly going to be looking at this further starting with the founder Marshall Rosenburg.  I can only imagine that Bobs’ blog is a little goldmine as well!

Final thoughts

The term violent communication is extreme and should be used with caution in everyday life. As a coach I know if I start using the  term with my clients they are going to get turned off very quickly. But through subtle coaching I can get them to start thinking about the way they communicate with their people in a different way, creating an inclusive environment where mutual appreciation of needs is considered. Wouldn’t we all want to work in that environment? Productivity, quality and morale would surely follow.

I challenge you this week to think about how you communicate to your family, work colleagues and to strangers.

We have some really great speakers coming up at the ACE for rest of the year,  I recommend you pop by our page, have a look,  and get signed up.