The tone of current political debate – the tendency for some participants to raise their voices and use violent language – has been the subject of much commentary, and rightly so. This method of argument is divisive, antagonistic and has been proven not to be effective in persuading others to change their point of view. Research shows that, if we want to persuade others, nonviolent communication (NVC) is the way to do it. NVC inspires positive thinking, builds trust and opens doors for people to get involved and feel included in the conversation.
A framework for NVC was developed by Marshall Rosenberg,* drawing on the humanistic psychology of Carl Rogers and the nonviolent creeds of Gandhi and Martin Luther King to provide tools to communicate in a way that includes your own needs as well as others and the wider environment. It is regularly and effectively deployed by trained negotiators to de-escalate tense situations.
Some core techniques of NVC are:
- Moving away from ‘should’ ‘have to’ and ‘no choice’
- Communicating from a place of choice - taking responsibility for what you say rather than being in automatic pilot
- Listening before speaking
- Empathising with the other party
- Communicating truth calmly and with clarity
When I am running in London, I often pass a bed of roses planted in memory of the murdered MP, Jo Cox, where I always stop and offer a quiet thought of gratitude for the peaceful and powerful work she did and the positive legacy she has left us. The Jo Cox Foundation has reacted to the recent confrontations in Parliament with a call for moderation by way of a code of conduct to be established by all parliamentarians.
The Jo Cox Foundation vision…” is for a kinder, more compassionate society where every individual has a sense of belonging and where we recognise that we have more in common than that which divides us.”
*For further information check out Martin Rosenberg’s book - Living Non Violent Communication: Practical Tools to Connect and Communicate Skillfully in Every Situation