Nonviolent Communication

Tips for a peaceful Thanksgiving

Greetings friends,

And warm wishes on this national holiday of gratitude!

To support peace and connection this Thanksgiving, please consider these tips for navigating your celebration with peace.

  1. Start with gratitude! (Details below!)
  2. Empathy before Education.
    Consider reflecting what is important to the speaker before educating them on your view. For example:Guest A says: “I’m so happy Trump was elected! Now we can get our country back!”
    You respond: “So, for you, you are feeling hopeful that the results of the election will help our citizens?”
    Guest A says: Yeah!
    You say, “Thank you! For me, I feel ____________________, because ________________ is important to me! I imagine you share that value as well! How do you feel hearing that?” Then, back to “Empathy Ears”!
  3. At the end of the day, consider ending with gratitude and a celebration of our connection.
    “I’m so grateful that we had this opportunity to share some time together. It met my needs for community, celebration, and inspiration!”

And here’s some specific tips on sharing and receiving gratitude in a powerful way.

Expressing Gratitude

Compliments are often judgments – however positive – of others, and are sometimes offered to manipulate the behavior of others. With a compliment we are telling someone what they did right as opposed to wrong. Both are judgments and are life-alienating statements. NVC encourages the expression of appreciation solely for celebration.

Three Components of Appreciation

  • What specifically did someone do that made your life more wonderful?
  • What need(s) were satisfied?
  • How do you feel right now as you consider the fulfillment of those needs?

Sometimes when we offer appreciation and gratitude like this, people feel shocked and surprised to hear it, so it’s recommended that we add a request asking for a reflection back of what was just expressed. “How do you feel hearing that from me?”

Example: Observation — Sam and Tina spent 3 weeks creating the surprise birthday party for Laura. They made call after phone call and tracked down her friends to invite them to share in the fun. Laura was surprised.

Consider the difference between:
Laura: “Gee, thank you Sam and Tina. I want to compliment you on a great party.”
With NVC: Laura: “Sam and Tina, I’m so grateful (feeling) to both of you for putting this surprise together for me (what they did). It has been so much fun (need). I really enjoyed (feeling) seeing and connecting (need) with all my friends and cannot remember having so many of them all in the same place at the same time. You’ve really contributed to my life and made my birthday special. For this I am grateful.

Receiving Appreciation and/or Gratitude

When we receive appreciation expressed in this way, we can do so without any feeling of superiority or false humility by celebrating along with the person who is offering the appreciation. Kelly Bryson, in his book, Don’t Be Nice, Be Real, says, “If we do not need approval, then what do we do when others compliment us? Compliments are one of the great joys in life and are an important way of learning about how we are affecting others.” He suggests:

When you receive a “compliment” from someone, consider asking:
What you said or did that they are reacting to
What needs were met by this (or empathize to discover this)
What feelings s/he is having about this

If you were a contractor, someone might say, “Great job on the plaster!”
You might respond with, “Wonderful, what did you like about what I did?”

Listen for needs met in their response and check them out. You hear, “Well, you got everything done in the time you said you would, the color matches perfectly, and you cleaned up when you were done!”

Now ask or empathize to discover what feelings they are having about getting that need(s) met. “Are you grateful that the work got done with ease, and that your hopes for beauty have been realized and that order has been restored?”

by Jim Manske @