Do you sometimes listen to someone longer than you really enjoy? Or does part of you think that listening is more noble, more NVC than expressing?

I used to. Until I noticed that was super exhausting and not fun..I wanna share with you how I turned this thing of over-empathising with others around.


24 replies
  1. Pam L says:

    Marianne summarizes 3 pillars of NVC. Marshall Rosenberg described a 4-step process of application: Observations (not judgments), Feelings (not thoughts), Needs, Requests. Marianne demonstrated all 4 in the pause example — “I’ve been listening for a while and I’m grateful for what I’m learning. I’m also feeling tired and need to recharge my energy. Could we pause for now and resume our coversation in x hours/minutes, tomorrow, etc?” Requests are different than demands. They are most effective when framed as a respectfully delivered question, without a tone of voice that conveys a demand in the form of a question. When one makes a request, one doesn’t always receive the preferred answer and additional negotiation may be necessary, hopefully to find a mutually beneficial solution for all.

    Sometimes you may want to have a conversation where there is a respectful exchange of observations in which feelings and needs are expressed with a common need for both parties to speak honestly and be heard. The objective is not to persuade the other to your own point of view, but to use the language of NVC to learn more about one another. In that sense, I think there can certainly be NVC conversations where one concludes with agreeing to disagree and hopefully with a fuller understanding of the feelings and needs behind the different opinions.

  2. Emily says:

    Thank you this was very insightful. I love that I have permission to pause people and will practice. It’s also good know that when I too am paused I can realize it’s nothing wrong with me, it’s simply someone else taking care of themselves.

  3. Tracey says:

    I am ‘finding the people that fit me’ and really appreciate that language. For me, some of the ill-fitting ones are family members and my need for self-expression and respect butts up against my need for community/acceptance/love in a really uncomfortable way. This is especially true when their prejudices surface and I choose not to engage. I wonder how to “agree to disagree” in an NVC way…

  4. dries van dijk says:

    Giving inspiration and loving care, Marianne! tx! It sounds like music in my ears en eyes. I’ve to find patience for myself en for friends to practise this. Harmony in- and outside. To find time training this is still a big obstacle. Every day gives you the chance to look at yourself and trying it. Tx for your encouragement.

  5. anon says:

    I really wish more teachers would teach more balance in the container of NVC. I am also recovering from growing up with parents who had no real ability to connect with me so I over give in the hopes of connecting. I have also been criticized by many different older people who always think that the only answer is to understand others while never opening to the balance of understanding my needs.

  6. Deetoo says:

    This was very helpful for me. I realize I really like harmony and lack of conflict and I must have some pride in listening or thinking I am a caring person. Also, there is a part that says others needs may be more important than my own, or that I need to care for them. But I do realize that if I let someone go on and on I get resentful and that does not meet my goal for harmony either. Thank you.

  7. Christine P. says:

    Hey Marianne, thanks so much for this video! It really resonated with me, especially the part about the jackal saying “I can’t express anything until it’s perfect.” That’s definitely something I’ve thought, and it’s nice to know that the only way I’ll get better is practicing at the level I’m at now!

  8. Amy Mosher says:

    I really appreciated your advice and encouragement on how to pause people. I will try to gain the courage to use this tip, “Can I pause you?” Am looking forward to your video with more ways to interrupt people because I tend to let people go on and on and end up really resenting the fact that they didn’t even ask me a question about myself or express any interest in me. I am looking forward to encouraging my authenticity and this info on pausing people and speaking your feelings and needs in the moment really feels like it will help me greatly!
    Thanks Marianne!

    • Marianne van Dijk says:

      Hi Amy, Im happy to hear that, and thanks for the encouragement to create the video about interrupting people!

    • Marianne van Dijk says:

      Thanks Ben, I feel happy to imagine more people pausing others when they don’t listen fully or joyfully to them anymore..

  9. Anna says:

    I love this video Marianne, thank you! It really meets my need for empowerment so it was very relieving to hear all those practical ways to protect myself. My jackal is definitely the one that I have to keep all my relationships harmonious and only then I can relax. It hit me when you said that harmony can also appear between you and yourself. Since I was young I’ve learned to think (or I haven’t even thought about it, it has just been an automatic behavior) that the harmony between myself and others ALWAYS comes first.

    I have a friend with whom I find hard to put boundaries. If we’ve made a 1,5 hour phone call (and I’m usually the one who ends the call at the end), she tends to call me after one week again and she could talk again for at least an hour. I feel frustrated because I would like to have space between our phone calls. I like her and at the same time, as harsh as it sounds, I realize watching this video that I want to spend less time with her than she wants to spend with me. And yes, the jackal about keeping also this relationship harmonious so often raises its head. But it felt already good to be able to share this and this way to get some enlightenment to myself about what’s going on in my mind when I think of this friendship. My next big step is to try out your tips with my friend :).

    • Marianne van Dijk says:

      Hi Anna, I’m so happy that this is what it contributed to you! And indeed, do it step by step with softness for yourself..

  10. Amanda Schmidt says:

    Thank you Marianne for bringing up this topic. I have had problems with this issue for most of my life, and after watching your video I realize what jackal motivations keep me from interrupting and taking steps to make sure I get a chance to express, too. Sometimes the talkative person will pause and say, “Sorry I’m kind of dominating the conversation here!” My response has usually been, “Oh, that’s ok, I don’t mind.” But I need to learn to take that opportunity to start expressing, and realize that I’m not being rude by doing so! You’re right, it doesn’t serve anyone when we are getting resentful and antsy. We need to speak up and let ourselves matter, too.

    • Marianne van Dijk says:

      Hey Amanda, so happy it brought you clarity about your motivations for this theme, happy to imagine starting to express when you feel like it!

  11. Leonie de Vries says:

    Finding the gap… Gee, tried that a few hours ago and indeed, the gap just doesn’t come.. how tiring! By then I already mentioned a few times that I didn’t have time and had to go. In the end just said: Marga, I really have to go. Now. Full stop. So that I did but still feel frustration and tiredness around all those stories that in that moment didn’t interest me at all. I should say though that this was a setting at work where I spoke with one of our sports teachers. So now I know the gap doesn’t come I will try your way 🙂

    • Marianne van Dijk says:

      Curious to hear what that brings you! And feeling soooooo much compassion for joy-less listening..

    • Annie Scott says:

      Hi Marianne, I have previously had a really successful press pause with my husband – he stood there while I did some powerful self empathy and afterwards I expressed genuine appreciation for him holding space by pausing as it was deeply helpful to me. He felt great with the appreciation so it was a great win-win. I don’t remember the exact way I asked for it but I have been noticing a pattern in me which I wonder whether might be in you – which is when expressing the request – the subtle difference between asking in a way that sounds like I am asking for permission – I have recently concluded that this has contributed to my shifting the power to the other person ie giving my power away or making their choice more important than my own or a win lose situation either way. This has fed into my not mattering as much dynamic and low sense of worth and choice. Instead, I believe I need to practice being more assertive by including myself first more often, something like ” I would really love a pause at this point, so that I can process and stay connected with you, would that work for you too?” or “I would be so helped to have a pause right now, could you hold on for a few moments? ” so I am bringing my need in. Does this make sense?

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