I have often heard students express frustration because they want authenticity and fluency in using Nonviolent Communication (NVC) and sometimes get feedback from others that they sound like a robot.
Most folks who first learn a second language have an accent. The accent tells the listener that the speaker is new to the language.
The same is true for NVC. in many ways, you are learning a new language. You are learning to speak from your heart rather than your head and use a new vocabulary and syntax that reflects self-awareness and self-responsibility. That’s a lot to do all at once. It makes sense that in the beginning it can come out in a halting sort of way.
When I teach beginners NVC, I focus on “classical giraffe”. Classical giraffe refers to a way of speaking that carefully follows the four steps, and the basic syntax and vocabulary.
As you cultivate a needs consciousness, you are ready to move into “street giraffe”. That is, stay in the same form while using some common words and phrases to reflect that form.
Here’s an example of an expression in classical giraffe.
“When I hear you say you won’t be home until late, I feel disappointed because I need connection. Would you be willing to have dinner together tomorrow night?”
Saying this in street giraffe, it might sound like this:
“Oh darn, I’m disappointed to hear that. I was hoping for some closeness tonight. Are you interested in having dinner tomorrow night?”
Often students ask for another way to say “I need”. Here are some street giraffe ways to say I need.
because (universal need) is important to me
because I long for
because I am hoping for
because I am wanting
because I am missing
and I’d like
because I am looking for a sense of (universal need)
because I enjoy
These same phrases could be used in offers of empathy.
Remember, the important distinction is to connect your feelings to your needs. This is a way of taking responsibility for yourself and your feelings and needs. “I feel because I …”
Rather than, “I feel like you…”, “I feel that…” “I feel it’s…”, “I feel angry because you (it, they, etc).
Focus this week on connecting your feelings to your needs. Practice using some of the “street giraffe” phrases.