Here’s some tips on emotionally intelligent communication, based upon NonViolent Communication (NVC) by Marshall Rosenberg and used on our communication training courses and emotional intelligence training.
Separating Observations from Judgements in Communication
Observations are facts that could be recorded by a video camera that no one would argue with. They are specific, impartial and great for setting standards, giving feedback and making requests.
E.g. “You came in at 9.20 or later three times this week.”
“The report was 296 pages long.”
“John left the office in tears yesterday after talking with you”
Judgements can also be called evaluations, assessments and opinions. They are related to blame, moralistic language, generalisations, denial of responsibility, demands and threats
e.g. “You’re always late!” (generalisation)
“You a rubbish secretary.” Also, “You’re a great secretary!”
“Janine is too old” (can be subtle)
“I feel like you don’t do enough work.” (a judgement disguised as a feeling – tricky!)
Needs and values in Communication
Needs are things all people share which are not strategies for getting something else and are essential to health, happiness and productivity. Values are what people hold to be important and are closely related. Connecting to your own and other people’s needs or values is the most powerful way I know of managing “difficult” behaviour.
Feelings point to met or unmet needs and are temporary. Moods are longer lasting and less visible from the inside. People can get trapped in a mood for years and colour their perceptions and interactions so it is important to be aware of them.
Survival needs (if these aren’t met people generally don’t care about the others)
Air, food, water, sleep, touch, shelter, exercise
Social Needs (the ones workplace disputes are most frequently about)
Consideration, respect, autonomy, dignity, appreciation, community, acceptance, support, care, understanding, trust, empathy, contribution
Depth Needs (also important but rarely discussed in many workplaces)
Clear standards and requests help to avoid conflict and manage “difficult” behaviour. Make them concrete, doable, positive (i.e. what you want not what you don’t want) and timed.
e.g. I’d like you to be at your desk and working by 9.00am five days a week.
It’s powerful to let people know why you’d like something by connecting it to YOUR needs or values.
e.g. because the rest of team begin work at this time and equity is really important to me.