What do all relationships have in common?

Relationships require communication.

Growing up with a pattern of verbal fighting to stick up for myself, blaming people around me for my challenges, and sweeping feelings and arguments under the rug, it was a hard road to the realization communicating this way wasn’t really working for me. For me, reading Nonviolent Communication, by Marshall Rosenberg, really changed the way I see the use of language in interpersonal conflict as well as connection. I decided I wanted to give violence, the willingness to fight for what I believe I own, a rest, in favor of what Rosenberg promises is a better way to get what you want, while honoring the wants and boundaries of others.

Below is a brief synopsis, in ten easy steps, of what I learned about navigating conflict. If you read it and think that it’s too complicated, rest assured that my ten-year-old daughter and I run this formula with each other, in both directions, a few times a week with amazing success, especially the more times we practice it.

Ten Steps to Resolve Conflict through Empathetic Expression & Listening:

1. I see that you’re having some feelings and I suspect I may have played a role in why you feel that way.

2. Looks like you might be feeling (sad, mad, frustrated, lonely, tired) right now.

3. I imagine that you have a need that isn’t being met. If you’re willing to share, I’m willing to listen.

4. It must be disappointing that your need isn’t being met.

5. I can see how I’ve played a role in: (not meeting your need, crossing a boundary, breaking a commitment we made).

6. I understand that my role in this conflict may be contributing to us being disconnected.

7. I’d like to repair and reconnect with you.

8. What can we do to repair this conflict, moving forward?

9. I understand that when I do this, it has this consequence (insert consequence).

10. In the future, I will be more aware of this consequence and I will choose carefully, depending on my intentions.