Constructive Feedback building upon NonViolent Communication (NVC) Practice :
Below are 8 Steps for dealing constructively with differences. They make it possible to communicate with authenticity and honesty yet in a compassionate and relationship-enhancing way. Once you’re familiar with practicing the skills in the sequence, or at least the key parts for you of the sequence, you can use whatever parts are most relevant in a more informal, situational way, or go though it all with another person who has agreed to do this with you.
I also use this exercise as a preparation for parties in mediation, who send me their answers online before we meet together.
Items with an *asterisk are my additions to the NVC model.
*1. Connect and Appreciate – Start with something positive yet authentic that you can say to the person to establish positive connection. (e.g. I appreciate your openness to having this conversation… I appreciate your persistent hard work on this project…) 1-2 sentences are enough
2. Describe the behavior or situation or pattern you find challenging. Be as specific, descriptive, accurate, and nonjudgmental as you can. (e.g. “When I saw you…” or, “When I heard you say…”). Doing this respectfully and clearly is a key trust builder. Take as much space as needed.
* 3. Share your Interpretation (or Perception) of the person’s behavior. State what you thought the other’s behavior meant, and/or what you thought the others’ intention was. This may help you better understand and empathize with their experience, needs, and motivations, as well as with what’s driving your response. E.g., “I thought what you were trying to do was…” “ I thought you were reacting to…”, etc.) 1- 2 sentences are enough, more is ok.
4. Share the feelings you had (or are having) as a result of the conflict or behavior described. Share your feelings, as your own experience, not something the other “made you” feel. Use words, that are emotionally, somatically, and/or energetically based (E.g. “I feel frustrated, shut down, hurt, elated, angry, sad, supported, annoyed, afraid, … etc.”) NOT thoughts and interpretations about the other person’s intentions (e.g. “I feel that you we’re trying to hurt me…” ) 1-2 sentences ok
5. Share what you need and *value in relation to the situation you’re addressing. Communicate specifically what you need in this situation, and/or a core value you want this person to understand. (E.g. “I need to feel that you respect my time and energy limits .…” or, “I need to know that you understand and support my decision……”, *“The value here that I want to uphold/have respected is …”) 1-2 sentences are enough.
6. *Make an offer Offer something you are willing to do or change in your own behavior in order to improve the situation. (e.g. “And I would be willing to…”) Taking responsibility for your part in the conflict, no matter how small you think it is, and being willing to change your patterns, shows good faith and encourages the other person to empathize with you and bring out their best. Be specific and concrete. 1-2 sentences are enough
7. Make a request. Request what you would like the person to do. Suggest specific, concrete actions that they might change in their behavior that could reasonably address your need and help you to thrive, but do not frame this as a demand . You may state a general change in attitude or behavior you would like the person to consider, but you also need to be as specific and concrete as possible in your request, so they have something they can focus on and try out (E.g.” I would like you to consider…” or “Would you be willing to consider listening carefully to my full presentations to our group before you…”) 1-2 sentences are enough
or: (another Option for #7): Imagine the Optimal Situation you’d like to see
8 Summarize/Mirror Back to the speaker, as fairly and accurately as possible, what you think their main points were. Then check with them to see if they think you were accurate and listen to their corrections, things you missed, etc., if there are any.
- Then, if appropriate , switch roles with your partner