Is NVC Manipulative?
(Time to read: 2-3 minutes)
This question was raised during a recent training. In order to answer it we first need to ensure we have a shared understanding of the terms in it.
What is NVC?
The objective of NVC is to create a quality of connection in which everyone’s needs are equally valued and are met through natural giving – no forcing or giving in.
Another way to say this is that NVC is a choice to communicate with care for both my needs and the needs of the other(s) involved, seeking a way of meeting them all that works for everyone.
This process involves trying to understand other people’s needs from their perspective, including, if necessary, supporting them in getting clear about what their needs are.
What does “manipulative” mean?
The following are 4 definitions I found that seem representative of the meaning of this word:
Skillful in influencing or controlling others to your own advantage (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)
To control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage
Pejorative, describing one who obtains own goals at the expense of other people by using them
To manage or influence skillfully, esp. in an unfair manner (dictionary.com)
There seem to be three core elements in these definitions. An act that is manipulative:
Involves a level of skill,
Seeks to satisfy my needs at the expense of others,
May seek to prevent others from staying connected to their own needs / what is important to them.
So, is NVC manipulative?
Let’s evaluate NVC against each of these criteria.
- Involves a level of skill? Yes, I would say that NVC meets this criterion. It does take skill and practice to choose to try to understand and connect to the needs of another person, especially when our own needs are not met.
- Seeks to satisfy my needs at the expense of others? No, I don’t believe that NVC meets this criterion of manipulative. In fact, NVC tries to do something that is a kind of opposite of this – it seeks to meet everyone’s needs.
- May seek to prevent others from staying connected to their own needs / what is important to them? No, I don’t believe that NVC meets this criterion. It seeks to create a quality of connection in which everyone’s needs are equally valued by everyone in the situation – including having other people recognize and value their own needs as well as mine.
So, no, I don’t believe that NVC is manipulative.
Source of the Question?
- Choosing to stop before reacting to consider our possible range of responses.
- Then choosing a response that is more likely to create connection with the other person, which is more likely to result in our needs being met, as well as the needs of others.
And perhaps in the experience of the person who asked the question, they had only ever seen people carefully consider their response for the purpose of “seeking unfair advantage”, rather than for the purpose of more effectively meeting everyone’s needs.
It’s exciting to be part of a movement that is seeking to use our human capacity for choice to help meet more needs more of the time!
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Would you like to develop this level of skill and choice in your communication with others?
Perhaps I can help. Click here to book a coaching / training session.