My daughter and I are reading this book because sometimes, well, frequently, she yells at me. I get scared when she does that because I don’t know where she is going with that. One of two things could happen. She could escalate, which she has in the past, or she could just leave the room and slam the door. It makes me so sad when she does that. She’s 35 years old. It just reminds me when I was little and my dad would yell right before he gave us bloody noses. Bam, bam, bam, three in a row.
Violent communication doesn’t have to be yelling. It can be sarcastic, needling, guilt-producing, aggressive, over-assertive or even pleading.
I like to call Nonviolent Communication “gentle communication.” Think of this type of communication that you would use toward your much-beloved great-aunt. With the utmost respect, you inquire of her health and really listen to her. You respond back to her with “It sounds like you are coping with it all.”
You don’t want to “investigate” and say “What did the doctor say?” or “When did this start?” That is probing which is surely not what she intended by telling you about her health.
You don’t want to sympathize by saying something like, “That’s too bad.” That will only make her feel bad.
Unless you are a doctor yourself, you just want to gently say something noncommittal so that you can continue the conversation without anyone feeling guilty.
If your child yells at you, whether they are 15 or 35, you need to gently diffuse the emotion. You can say something like, “It scares me when you yell at me because I don’t know how to respond to you.” I have yet to try that with my 35 year old daughter. I hope it works.
Diffusing Dangerous Situations
There’s a story in the book where this woman defused a dangerous situation when a stranger came up to her demanding that she take off her clothes. She responded, “I feel that you are scared and you really don’t want me to do that.” After further nonviolent communication, the stranger finally said, “Give me your purse.” She readily handed over her purse and the stranger left.
There’s also a chapter for nonviolent self-talk. That’s where I stopped for now. I am 59% done with the book.
So if you would like to learn to communicate more gently with your family, your friends, and complete strangers, you’ll definitely want to buy this book.