What We Say Matters | Judith Hanson Lasater

Summary of: What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication
By: Judith Hanson Lasater


In ‘What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication’, Judith Hanson Lasater presents a transformative approach to communication by encouraging a language that is truthful but not harmful. Called ‘right speech’, this practice reflects Buddhist principles encoded in the Yoga Sutra, which call for respecting both truth (satya) and non-harming (ahimsa). By incorporating nonviolent communication (NVC), developed by American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s, individuals can learn to express their feelings, needs, and requests clearly without causing resentment or anger. The book summary covers the key aspects of NVC, including observations, feelings, needs, and requests, and provides practical advice on approaching different relationships, such as romantic partners, children, parents, and co-workers.

The Power of Right Speech

Humans speak every day, yet our choice of words has a significant impact on our well-being and relationships. Our speech reflects our self-image, and it can determine how discussions unfold. Right speech, as described in Buddhist texts, emphasizes truthful language that doesn’t harm others. Nonviolent communication (NVC) is a useful tool for practicing right speech. NVC fosters understanding and aims to meet everyone’s needs. By using right speech, we can communicate our thoughts while maintaining healthy relationships.

Practicing Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent communication is a framework for peaceful conflict resolution developed by the psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. Its foundation is laid on two essential elements that include observations and feelings. The observations should be non-judgmental in nature, and the feelings are signals that tell us whether our needs are being met or not. Combining observations and feelings can lead to making nonviolent statements like “when I see dishes on the kitchen counter, I feel frustrated.” By expressing our needs and making doable requests, we can communicate effectively. Nonviolent communication is a way to communicate truthfully and peacefully, without harming the other person. It is necessary to put these elements into practice to achieve a better understanding of this method.

Communication without Violence

Connecting to yourself and others is vital for nonviolent communication. It involves expressing your feelings and needs honestly and explicitly while empathizing with others. Nonviolent communication entails making genuine requests, not demands.

Nonviolent communication requires more than uttering the correct phrases. It also encompasses connecting with yourself, others, and what you are saying. To achieve this, it is critical to identify your feelings and needs truthfully and express them honestly. Before speaking, take a moment of silent self-empathy to determine your position. Afterward, you can reveal your feelings and needs to establish communication and connection with your conversation partner. It is crucial to show empathy towards others’ needs and emotions by putting yourself in their shoes. By empathizing, people are more likely to engage with you, leading to more open communication.

Finally, it is important to make genuine requests instead of demands to engage in nonviolent communication fully. This requires accepting the possibility of denial while formulating a new request. Nonviolent communication revolves around connecting to others through empathizing, expressing your feelings and needs, and making genuine requests.

Overcoming Fears

Fear of judgment and anger can hinder truthful communication and decision-making. To overcome these fears, it’s crucial to understand how they affect us. Making decisions that meet our needs instead of succumbing to judgment requires creating an index that scores options based on how well they meet our needs. Dealing with anger involves taking a moment to identify and address the underlying emotions of hurt, fear, or frustration. Empathy for ourselves and others can help us avoid the negative repercussions of fear and anger.

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