Dishing It

You stumble into the kitchen at 7 a.m., only to be greeted by a pile of dirty dishes. The same dishes your partner forgot to wash last night. You might blow up or silently stew. Unless, that is, you practice nonviolent communication. A model for honest, calm communication, NVC, as it’s called, was developed by psychologist Marshall Rosenberg to help people connect through empathy instead of judgment. In the case of the dirty dishes, the NVC model suggests several steps. First, make a nonjudgmental
observation: “The dishes haven’t been washed.” Then, consider your feelings: “I feel overwhelmed by the mess.” Next, state your needs: “I need a clean kitchen in the morning so that I can make breakfast.” Finally, make a request: “Would you be willing to do the dishes?” Even if your partner doesn’t learn NVC, your practice can have a powerful impact. “You get stuff out there,” says Kathy Smith, who
has practiced NVC since 2002. “It’s incredibly nonthreatening.” The method can be a practical way to bring the yogic values of karuna (compassion) and satya (truthfulness) into your relationships. “The Yoga Sutra says to practice satya but doesn’t tell you how. To me, NVC is the ‘how,'” says Judith Hanson Lasater, who has taught yoga since 1971 and practiced NVC since 1996.

For more information, visit the Center for Nonviolent Communication’s website, Center for Nonviolent Communication.