The Second Building Block of Connection


(Time to read & do: ~ 3 minutes)

As we saw last time, the first building block of connection is external sensory data – which we call “observation”.

The second building block of connection is your internal sensory data.

To access our inner sensory data, we check with our bodies, which are capable of incredibly rapid integration of enormous amounts of data – and which summarize and convey this information to us in the form of our feelings.

Now maybe you already knew this. Or maybe you’re like me, and you haven’t valued feelings much – believing that they get you in trouble or lead you astray. And I have certainly used feeling data in some very ineffective ways.

But researchers have discovered that feelings are essential in making rapid and effective decisions – we just can’t do it based on our thinking mind alone.

So being able to quickly and accurately identify how we feel is essential to making decisions that will serve us well.

In the next email in this series, we’ll start to talk about how to use feeling data effectively. For now, let’s focus on understanding what NVC means by feelings, which may be different than other perspectives you’ve encountered.

Understanding the NVC Perspective on Feelings

  • Our feelings let us know whether a situation is working for us or not. So they fall into two basic categories: “things are okay” or “things are not okay – do something”.
  • Also, we may feel many things at the same time – letting us know that some aspects of a situation may be working for us, and other aspects not.
  • In the English language, the words “I feel” are often followed by words and phrases that are not feelings as NVC understands them.
    – Sometimes these words are followed by thoughts – as in
       “I feel that you should take out the trash.”
    – Other times “I feel” is followed by a word such as “ignored” or “criticized” – something that is not just about our inner sensory data, but that includes an interpretation of someone else’s intention. If I focus just on my inner sensory data, I might discover that I feel sad or lonely. 
  • It is much easier just to recognize feeling words than to try to make the distinction “on the fly” which words are “really” feelings. So we’ll take the easy route for your test drive…

“Test Driving” NVC Feelings

Last time, you were invited to identify an observation – something that someone said that you still don’t enjoy. (Notice how you were already using feelings, even though we hadn’t talked about them? 🙂 )

If you didn’t identify one then, I invite you to mentally pick an observation now…

Short Version or Longer Version?

There are two feeling “test drives” available:

  • Go here for the short version – if you are interested in getting the gist of this building block for connection, and/or time is of the essence.
  •  If you enjoy the subtle nuances of language and/or feelings, you might enjoy the longer version (total of 140 words, divided into 11 categories).