In the book Non-Violent Communication, by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, a conflict-resolution and communication process specifically focused on how to express ourselves in a way that inspires empathy in others, and how to listen empathically in turn is presented.
What I found particularly unique was Dr. Rosenburg’s focus on acknowledging and expressing your needs as a precursor to achieving empathetic relationship.
Initially, this may sound confusing, and off-putting, to think that you, the fearless unshakeable warrior could possibly need something.
First, let’s start with a basic premise that I think most of us can agree with: we all want to feel loved.
(If you do not resonate with the above come back to this post in a week or 3 months or 6 years or whenever applicable.)
Second, whether it be our family, friends or significant others, I think it’s pretty safe to say that they don’t know exactly how you’d like to be loved.
It’s easier to be loved by someone when you tell them how to love you.
The alternative, and too frequent scenario, is that this need is not expressed and therefore not met and is the source of conflict, disappointment, and frustration.
Don’t leave it to them to guess how you’d like to be loved. Think “What actions could my [mom, dad, brother, sister] take to make me feel loved?”
(Side note; If you haven’t read or familiarized yourself with the 5 love languages, stop what you’re doing right now and identify your love language.)
Dr. Rosenburg presents a rubric to expressing needs that will be most helpful after you’ve spent the time to identify how you’d like to be loved.
Four Key Steps
- Observation – specific facts/data, no evaluation/judgment
- Feeling – state how we feel (many failure modes here)
- Need – the need underlying this feeling
- Request – must be specific action to address need
“When ___, I feel ___, because I am needing ___. Therefore, I would now like ___.”
They can either choose to ignore your need, and you then must then take the road of forgiveness, or they will respect your need and fill it.
These are tools they will not work autonomously for you. Take them, use them, and achieve empathetic relationships.