Non-violent communication: what it is and how to use it with clients and employees

Good communication is a key factor in any agency’s success; find out what the CNV methodology is and what benefits it can bring to your team

Have you ever stopped to think about the health and quality of communication between your agency’s employees? Are excessive criticism, teasing, labels and rumors common in your work environment? If you answered yes, maybe it’s time to create an internal communication culture based on c nonviolent communication (CNV).

Nonviolent communication is a process of mutual understanding, formalized and disseminated by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD in clinical psychology.

Your goal is to improve the quality of our reactions. Working with empathy, the non-violent receiver analyzes the pain of the interlocutor and seeks to find the agent that motivates the person to act in a certain way, based on the feelings and universal needs of human beings.

So, the basic principle for putting CNV into practice is: listen to the feelings, not the words. Try to find the root cause and bring it to your advantage in a rational conversation between you.

In this article by Blue World City, you will check the pillars of non-violent communication, tips for applying it in your agency’s work environment and with clients, and what are its benefits. Come on?

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The 4 Pillars of Non-Violent Communication

CNV is based on four pillars that, when put into practice, have the power to change relationships between people. In addition to creating a more pleasant internal work environment, these pillars can also bring more productivity and results for your agency.

Are they:

1. Observe without judging

Focus on the facts and leave judgment aside. In the feedback meeting, instead of saying “you’re always late”, formulate specific and concrete sentences. Avoid generalizations such as: “in the last two weeks you have been more than half an hour late for our weekly meetings.”

2. Name your feelings

The second step is to understand the feelings behind the observations made. Self-reflection, identify your feelings, and express them clearly. For example: “when you arrive late without telling me, I feel disrespected”. In this way, more empathy is created and a direct and sincere communication channel is opened between those involved.

3. Identify and communicate your needs

What needs are behind your feelings and attitudes? Our actions are based on strong motivations. For example, if the fact that his led late to a meeting with make you feel disrespected, probably the real need behind this situation is to feel respected and valued.

Our feelings always express needs: trust, respect, acceptance, understanding, acceptance, etc. It is critical that you identify your own needs and understand the needs of others. Why does she act this way? What needs are behind her attitude? Question yourself.

4. Asking instead of sending

Express your needs in the form of clear, tangible and objective requests. Always use positive language. Instead of saying “don’t be late!” say “I would like you to arrive on time for our meetings”. Also make sure that the other person understood your request, asking at the end of the conversation: “so just to close, what was defined?”.

4 Tips for Applying Non-Violent Communication at Work

Whatever you think, I think it’s best to say it in good words. (William Shakespeare)

Often, how we say something is more important than the content itself. Although it is common to get carried away by anger or any bad feeling when talking to someone, it is necessary to guard against letting emotions speak louder than the message. Changing our habits is not an easy task, but, little by little and with daily practice, we are replacing old patterns and becoming more empathetic and flexible communicators.

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Some tips that can help you put this into practice:

1. Listen more and speak less

Being a good listener takes some training. You must have an open mind, free from judgment, and be available to receive what the other has to say. Pay attention to what the other is saying, be welcoming and make sure the other person is comfortable in your presence.

2. Focus more on the solution and less on the problem

Encourage your team to think outside the box to find innovative and creative solutions to everyday problems. Rather than excessively discussing the problem, how about holding a brainstorming session to find the solution? So your team comes out of a state of frustration and despondency and directs its energies towards creating something new. With optimistic incentives creativity is stimulated.

3. Include short dynamics in your weekly meetings

Starting weekly meetings with a short, relaxed activity is a great idea to break the ice and create more interaction among the team.

For example, a cool dynamic to generate more connection between the team is “Up’s and Down’s”. In this exercise, each team member shares an up (something good) and a down (something bad) about their week. Everything goes from “It’s a sunny day and I love the heat!” to “I closed an important sale yesterday”. It doesn’t matter if the events are related to work or personal life, the important thing is to share. This practice, in addition to making the team know each other better, increases the sense of empathy and understanding among everyone.

4. Create and make available your agency’s internal policies

HR policies such as vacation, admission, dismissal, maternity and paternity leave, as well as reimbursement, travel, event attendance and teleworking policies need to be clear and available to employees at all times. Defined processes minimize conflicts and misunderstandings.

Using Non-Violent Communication to Deal with Customers

The way you communicate directly interferes in a relationship between client and agency. When your client complains about the lack of results, it is necessary to be calm and not activate the defense mechanisms – both retreat and attack. Therefore, CNV can be the key to helping you even with your most dissatisfied customer and turning the game around in your relationship.

To guide you through this process, we have adapted the 4 steps of standard non-violent Communication (Observation, Feeling, Need and Request) for the client-agency relationship.

#1: Look at the big picture

Every violent act is a tragic expression of an unmet need. Marshall Rosenberg.

This is where, among your client’s ugly words or blatant criticisms, you should find and interpret their real pain at that moment. A nice tip is to analyze the situation as if it were an external person, in order to receive that information and not place any personal judgment on it.

An example: during the campaign of a critical event for your client’s business, one of the blog posts had a typo and needed to be taken down, but was soon corrected. The client is extremely reactive and kicks ass, claiming the agency is incompetent, and threatens to cancel the contract.

You as an agency must show empathy and reflect for a minute on the real reason for this threat. Take responsibility and show solutions that can solve the problem in order to prevent these mistakes from happening again.

Show the value generated so far and the forecast for the next months of the project. Having the macro view, the customer stops focusing so much on the details and sees you again as the authority.

#2: Feeling of frustration is a sign of attention

Don’t justify your client’s problem with your agency’s problems. Nothing makes consumers angrier than this!

Think of yourself when you order a pizza and it arrives all disfigured. When you call to complain, the last thing you want to hear from the pizzeria owner is that it was the fault of the motoboy who reared the bike on the way. That’s not your problem, you just want your pizza to be the best it can be!

If the customer is frustrated, understand if there was any misalignment of expectations at the time of the handoff between the Sales and Customer Success areas. Resolving this impasse should be your main focus.

#3: “Behind all behavior there is a need”

If your client feels insecure with his work, it is natural that he will demand more and more, bringing charges that make sense and others that don’t.

It’s up to you to practice active listening and be closer to him at times like this.

Deliver customized solutions and be bold: bring something unexpected like an extra report, a new output, and a new tool that can bring you closer to your customer.

#4: Clarity when ordering

When the customer externalizes his dissatisfaction, it is because he has reached a critical point in the relationship between you.

Your job is to prevent. Don’t let the pains your customer may experience during the service process turn into complaints.

Ask, investigate and demonstrate cognitive empathy by receiving feedback from your client throughout your journey with your agency.

And remember: you need to be as clear as possible. Many terms and actions may seem simple to you who do this over and over again. However, your customer is not familiar with this universe.

The summary of the opera is: Nonviolent communication is the way to communicate with empathy, to put on the customer’s shoes, and listen to the human being on the other end of the line without labeling him as an “annoying customer”. 

In conclusion: The benefits of CNV

The pillars of Non-Violent Communication can help your agency do more business through empathy in customer relationships and human-centered marketing.

In addition, CNV improves the agency’s internal communication, reducing conflicts and increasing the well-being of employees. As this practice increases the sense of collectivity, teamwork is encouraged and strengthened.

People who practice this type of communication develop fundamental skills for the labor market, such as: ability to express themselves transparently and naturally, ability to analyze facts and situations in a neutral way, empathy and a sense of community. And of course, these skills are extremely important for personal life as well.

Good communication like the team of Blue World City is a key factor in the success of any agency, so start applying the CNV methodology now and reap the benefits it can bring to your team!