Marshall Rosenberg developed what he called the Nonviolent Communication Process. A process with two sides: one side is about expressing how you are without blaming or criticizing. The other side is about receiving how you are without hearing blaming or criticism.

This can help us, because it is actually really hard to express yourself without blaming. Next to this, we can get really tough on ourselves and as someone wrote to me: “the person that I am least empathetic to that I should be more is myself”. The nonviolent communication process can actually help you get better at that.

Here are the four steps:

  1. Observations: This step is about what you see, hear, remember that contributes to your being (how you are right now). “When I …”
  2. Feelings: How are you feeling? This is about your emotions rather than what you think. Here’s a handy image to explore your feelings. “I feel …”
  3. Needs: Describe what you need or what you value. “… because I need/value …”
  4. Requests: The final step is to convert it into a request without being demanding: “Would you be willing to …?”

To make it more concrete: the next time you want to request something from someone, try to format it with this process. It might take the emotional load off the request and it helps to look inwards and know more about the reasoning behind the request.