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You made it this is the last and final minisode in a four part series on boundaries. If you haven’t already done so, make sure to listen to the entire series from top to bottom, because it will give you a full picture on how you can maintain healthy, strong, boundaries to be more badass in a world that is clawing at your time and attention.
In this episode, I want to introduce you to a four-step communication tool for speaking up when something is bothering you, when you feel someone has overstepped one of your boundaries, and you want to let them know that’s not cool with you.
Because in working with and talking to hundreds of women, I noticed a pattern – after years of growing up in the patriarchy, when something bothers us, we don’t speak up.
You know, It starts in our teens. Harvard researchers found that during adolescence, girls stop speaking from their experience, and expressing their true feelings and thoughts, even though they were outspoken as children. They literally lose their voices, become more quiet, and say “I don’t know” a million times, really as a way to hide. The researchers conclude “to say what they are feeling and thinking often means to risk losing their relationships...”
Sound familiar? It starts in our teens but carries on into our 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
The tool I want to introduce to you is called nonviolent communication – NVC for short. Started by a psychologist in the 60s, Marshall Rosenberg, this process will help to communicate to others about you need with less judgment.
You might want to pause the audio and grab a paper if it’s helpful to take notes.
Surely, you’ve been in a scenario, where you’ve felt triggered and want to respond, so what can you do?
NVC consists of four simple steps:
Step 1: State the facts – What events did you observe?
Step 2. State your feelings – How did you feel?
Step 3. State your needs – What is your unmet need? (Note: I like to give the option of stating your values here, if that works better in a professional context than your needs)
Step 4. State your requests – What is your request? What do you want moving forward?
I’m going to break it down and run through examples and tips.
Step 1. What events did you observe?
Example: “Last month, you authored the article about our project.”
Notice here, that I’m sticking to the facts. It’s something that a third party objective observer would agree , and couldn’t be argued.
So, you want to stick to the facts. “You seldom do what I want,” is an evaluation, versus “You did not attend the last three meetings,” which is more factual.
You want to be specific. “She frequently attends,” is too vague, versus “She attended at least three times a week,” which is precise.
You want to focus on observable behaviors. Memories about words people said can be subjective and distorted, so report on actions.
Step 2. How did you feel? “I felt …
Example: “I felt frustrated.”
Focus on emotions and sensations. Most derive from these five: sadness, disgust, fear, joy, and anger.
Avoid thoughts (e.g., "I feel like I didn't get a fair deal"), stories about yourself (e.g., "insecure"), how you think others are evaluating you (e.g., "unimportant"), or what we think others are doing to us (e.g., "misunderstood," "ignored").
Be vulnerable. It takes courage to state something plainly, but it’s powerful!
Step 3. What is your unmet need or value? “Because I need/value ….
Example: “Because I need/value collaboration and equality.”
Focus on universal human needs and/or cultural values. Under your feeling is an unmet...