The Surprising Purpose of Anger: Finding the Gift by Marshall B. Rosenberg takes the NVC approach and looks at it specifically in conjunction with anger. Marshall explains how anger is a valuable wake-up call that allows us to see we are thinking in ways that will not get our needs met. It is never the actions of another that lead to anger but our judgements about these actions. By differentiating that it is our evaluation of their behaviour that leads to anger, we are able to take a step back and see what needs of ours are not being met. Our emotions are a natural function which stimulate us to get our needs met, except anger isn’t; anger is created by thinking about the wrongness of the other person – leading to energy wasted on blaming and punishing. Once we are aware of the unmet needs underneath the anger, we are far more likely to take steps to have our needs met. Marshall uses the same steps outlined in Nonviolent Communication:A Language of Life with examples to explain his method to us. As someone who is frequently confused by anger and has never viewed it as a healthy response, this short book provides a way of working with and through anger to find its message.
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg is one of those books you wish someone had given you when you were 20, has you signing up for courses in your area, suggesting workshops to your boss and wanting to get everyone you know on board so you can practise. I even found myself hoping for conflict so I could put it to the test. NVC is a way of communicating feelings and underlying needs without using blame, criticism and demands. It believes that all human beings have the same basic needs and that conflict arises only when the strategies to meet these needs are in opposition. By using this compassionate communication method, most conflicts can be resolved peacefully and satisfactorily, in fact Marshall developed it as a tool for negotiating peace in war zones.
There is also this great youtube video which covers nearly all the material in the book.
If you’ve had any experience in NVC, I would love to hear about it, particularly how it translates to day to day situations.