I always hold that a shift in a conflict comes to you when using NVC, and I find it surprising, magical and beautiful. One minute it looks like there is no solution or harmony on the horizon, the next “Hey Presto”, everyone is happier than they were with their original prefered strategy. This article is for those who understand the process, and haven’t yet got to that shift.
If you have written down and heard the important feelings and needs on both sides, brainstormed at least 13 ideas and there is no obvious shift or alternative strategies presenting themselves, one or more of the following could be happening/needed:
1. If you cannot find at least 10 ideas (they don’t have to all fit, but they will come from a creative place), there is very likely to be an important need on one side or the other (or both) missed out, or not really acknowledged. It could be that that important need is “under” another need, and teasing out the identified needs, longings, and values can help.
Here are some examples, but it is not limited to these: under “happiness” could be a need for inclusion or fulfilment, not just joy. Or under “my needs matter” can be a need for support or clarity. If this happens to you, do share your examples below to help others.
Any of our values or longings can be hiding under others, so curiosity and more info can be helpful. Then, pay attention to what is precious to you or the other.
If you think that someone’s feelings haven’t really had the chance to be fully expressed, may be that step needs repeating, and longer spent with those feelings and where they lead to.
A need that is often useful to connect to and can be forgotten, is mourning. Mourning the fact that our need(s) are not met with the current strategy, with no blame, may help. Or mourning something else about the topic.
We all have a need for mourning when needs are not met, yet in our battle to meet those needs we may forget. This doesn’t mean that the needs are given up on (I really don’t want people to push their needs down and I encourage people to hold on tightly to their needs, and loosely to their strategies). Ask yourselves if there is something you need to mourn.
2. If the needs really appear to resonate, and a solution or shift (solutions aren’t always needed to get needs met) isn’t appearing, it may be that there is a deeper seated issue here and more empathy is needed for one or both parties. This is often the case in my work (because people don’t call me in until things have got bad enough that they need outside help). Marshall Rosenberg says that once people have heard each other’s needs, then the solution usually comes in less than 15 mins. However, it can take a long time to get the needs identified and heard, and empathy is often what takes up the time.
3. A break, snack, rest, different activity or some exercise is needed first.
4. There is a lack of trust in the process, that needs to be addressed first. I suggest finding some examples of where it has worked. There are links to videos that might help with this.
5. May be neither party is finding it easy to meet their own needs or find help to meet those needs. In this situation I suggest that some healing is needed to make a difference, which NVC offers through active listening, empathy and compassion.
6. Call in some help. This could be a friend who has some NVC skills, or you might want to call me in.