Resolving conflicts through mediation can be greatly aided by the use of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). This approach to communication improves understanding and connection between parties, leading to more effective and constructive resolution of conflicts. One key aspect of NVC that is particularly useful in mediation is the ability to express feelings accurately and authentically.

In NVC, it is important to differentiate between genuine feelings and thoughts or evaluations that are being expressed as feelings. Genuine feelings are subjective experiences that arise from our thoughts, experiences, and circumstances, and are a normal part of being human. Examples of genuine feelings might include happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and excitement.

On the other hand, thoughts or evaluations that are expressed as feelings are not genuine feelings, but rather judgments or interpretations that are being expressed as if they are feelings. These are sometimes referred to as “faux feelings.” For example, “I feel stupid” is a thought or evaluation that is being expressed as a feeling, rather than a genuine feeling. A more accurate expression of genuine feelings in this case might be “I feel embarrassed” or “I feel ashamed.”

In NVC, it is important to identify and express our genuine feelings, rather than expressing thoughts or evaluations as if they are feelings. This helps us communicate more clearly and effectively and understand and connect with ourselves and others.

Here is an example of a faux feeling and feeling “judged” in NVC:

Example:

Person A: “I feel judged when you criticize my work like that.”

Person B: “I understand that it can feel uncomfortable when someone shares feedback that feels critical. Can you share more about what you’re feeling in this moment?”

Person A: “I feel embarrassed and insecure when you criticize my work. I’m worried that you don’t think I’m good at my job.”

In this example, “I feel judged” is a faux feeling because it is a thought or evaluation that is being expressed as a feeling. A more accurate expression of genuine feelings, in this case, might be “I feel embarrassed” or “I feel insecure.” By identifying and expressing their genuine feelings, Person A is able to communicate more clearly and authentically about their experience.

Here are a few tips for expressing feelings in NVC:

  • Identify your feelings: Take a moment to check in with yourself and notice what you are feeling. Pay attention to your physical sensations and emotions, and try to identify the specific feeling words that best describe your experience.
  • Use “I” statements: In NVC, we use “I” statements to express our own feelings and needs, rather than blaming or judging others. This helps us to take responsibility for our own feelings and needs and to communicate in a way that is clear and respectful, rather than blaming or judging others. This helps us to take responsibility for our own feelings and needs and to communicate in a way that is clear and respectful.
  • Use genuine feeling words: Choose feeling words that accurately and authentically describe your experience. Avoid using thought or evaluation words that are being expressed as if they are feelings.
  • Practice self-compassion: It’s normal to have a range of feelings, and it’s important to be kind and understanding with ourselves as we navigate our emotions. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that all feelings are valid and deserve to be acknowledged and respected.

As a mediator, incorporating NVC principles into our practice helps create a safe and respectful environment for parties in conflict to express their feelings and needs. By focusing on identifying and expressing genuine feelings, rather than judgments or evaluations, parties can more effectively communicate and understand each other’s perspectives, which can facilitate a more constructive resolution to the conflict.

Anaisa Seneda

Anaisa is a mediator and conflict resolution expert who helps leaders navigate difficult conversations and confrontations. She offers individualized sessions and safer, neutral mediations to unpack and resolve difficult conversations, with a track record of success in mediating family disputes, corporate storms, and community distress.

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