Strings Attached


"When people think we have single-mindedness of purpose, it makes change difficult."
– Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life

Living Compassion Tip — Week 42

Strings Attached

If you look up the word "demand" you will read various definitions, such as:

  • "Forceful request"
  • "An insistent request"
  • "To claim as a right"

If a demand is a type of request according to various dictionaries, why is it important in NVC to make a distinction between the words "request" and "demand"?

One goal of NVC is to provide a platform for the free flow of feelings and needs with the intent of allowing for a more compassionate way for everyone to be heard and taken care of.

"Demand" in NVC is a request with strings attached. We all have either made such a request or have had one made of us. Dr. Marshall Rosenberg states, "Requests are received as demands when others believe they will be blamed or punished if they do not comply. People see only two options: submission or rebellion."

"Demand" has a more specific definition: a demand is a forceful request in which the speaker criticizes, judges or lays guilt upon the listener.

"Request" in NVC is a clear desire for a need to be met, often followed by showing empathy toward the listener’s needs.


Mindful Practice for the Week

This week, practice cutting the "strings" attached to your requests. See if you can place more trust in the free flow of feelings and needs to reach a mutual outcome, rather than using guilt or promises of reward. Enjoy your week!

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