Is NVC Listening different from Active Listening?
(Time to read: 1-2 minutes)
My impression is that there are many different understandings of what Active Listening is, some of which may include NVC listening. NVC listening is a precisely defined approach first articulated by Marshall Rosenberg.
When I learned active listening, we were taught to paraphrase back what we heard. In NVC listening, we listen for the deeper meaning in what the other person says – what is important to them, what (positive) value they are wanting satisfied.
A Possible Difference
The following example is designed to illustrate the difference:
What is said: “I hate my mother. She never listens to me.”
An active listening paraphrase: “Do you feel frustrated with your mother because she doesn’t listen to you?”
Colloquial NVC listening for the deeper meaning:
“You’d really like to know that your mother hears and understands what’s important to you?”
Similarities: Both approaches seek to reflect back the other person’s experience, and both offer their reflections as questions, recognizing that each person is the expert about what is true for them.
I notice the difference between the negative, “don’t want” quality of the closer paraphrase “she doesn’t listen to you” and the more positive, dream/vision/value quality of the “hears and understands what’s important to you”.
Hearing the Positive In the Negative
I find that, once people are confident that their frustration has been heard, they enjoy connecting to what they are wanting – it opens up a hopeful, creative space in them.
And it can be challenging for a listener to hear the “positive underneath the negative”. That’s what we practice when we study NVC – getting good at hearing at that level.
* * * * *
Would you like support to learn to hear the positive in the “negative” statements you hear? Check the menu items above for some options.