Stop people-pleasing and going silent… and learn how to speak up using Nonviolent Communication and SOFNR 

 How often do you stay silent because you don’t know what to say or you’re afraid of hurting the other person?

How often do you feel like you’re swallowing your feelings or doing things to please another person at your own expense?

Do you know how to express your feelings and needs?

Do you want to set better boundaries in your intimate relationships, friendships, and family, and at work?

Would you like to be closer so that people really know you, so you feel seen?

Nonviolent Communication is an invaluable set of tools that I share with my clients–so I gathered this list of resources together for you.

Often the first and most powerful step is identifying your own feelings and needs.

Giving yourself self-empathy by articulating those feelings and needs–which can be as easy as looking over the lists of feelings and needs below–can be so powerfully transformative.

So many of us feel we are not being heard in our relationships. But the first step is listening to ourselves.

So many of us also grew up to be adults without a rich emotional vocabulary or training about how to talk about our feelings and needs.

Nonviolent Communication is that training.

Here are some resources for learning about Nonviolent Communication that I like to share with my coaching clients.

Go through each step in SOFNR and you may be amazed at what’s possible: to be direct and honest while owning your feelings and needs, and making requests, in a way that doesn’t involve blaming or exploding.

SOFNR: Simple steps for effective communication
SOFNR is a simple process for effectively communicating using principles of NVC.

Think about this as a checklist to prepare yourself for a conversation.

It’s perfect for people who are waking up out of patterns of people-pleasing.

S: Stop
Breathe. Check in with yourself. Get grounded. Consider taking a break or getting support elsewhere. If you need to leave the situation, let the other person know when you’ll return–in 10 minutes? An hour? Another day or week? Keep the other person in the loop. No storming out without explanation, in other words!

O: Observations
Describe what happened based on observations. What would a camcorder see and hear? How would a scientist describe it? Be concrete and specific. No judgment, no blame, no opinions.

F: Feelings
Describe how you feel physically and emotionally. Are you feeling tense? Happy? Angry? Scared? Avoid feelings that invoke an interpretation of blame, such as saying you feel attacked, abandoned, or betrayed. Stay with direct sensations and feelings inside you. Look at the list of feelings here. Pick out the ones that resonate with you. Then choose the ones to share.

N: Needs
Describe what you need or want. This is not the place where you ask for a ride to the airport. Stay with more abstract needs, such as: “I want respect,” “I need consideration,” “I need safety;” “I need help.”  Look at the Needs Inventory to find yours.

R: Requests
You can make two different kinds of requests, a Connection Request or a Solution Request. A Connection Request might be, “Would tell me what you heard me say?” Or, “Would you tell me how feel about what I said?”

A Solution Request asks for a specific action. For Solution Requests, make them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Relevant, Time-Related.

For example: “Would you pick me up at the airport on Tuesday at 7 pm?”

This R is a request, not a demand. The other person can say “no.” If they do say “no” ask them to help you find a solution that meets your needs AND theirs.

Practice Groups
In many cities, there are groups where people meet to practice Nonviolent Communication. This can be the practice of a lifetime, and it’s so interesting to meet with others who are learning NVC! Google your city and nonviolent communication to discover what’s out there.

Lists of feelings and needs
These lists are simple–and powerful. I find that simply becoming acquainted with these lists can change people’s lives. You may want to print these lists out or keep an image of the lists on your phone so you can refer to them when you are upset or triggered by a conflict.

This book is a useful primer, but it can be a bit technical. Sometimes it’s good to watch the videos too–and the SOFNR checklist below is helpful for learning these practical skills of communication.

Take a look at this video from the founder Marshall Rosenberg:

And this one: