One key to being a good neighbor is the ability to communicate effectively – using compassion, clarity and empathy rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, or threats.
Called compassionate or nonviolent communication, this is an approach we can all learn, practice, and use. It is a powerful and effective tool, creating win-win resolutions to problems that can occur between neighbors. It is not about getting people to do what we want, but about using good listening and speaking skills so that we connect with people and meet both our own and others’ needs.
This process focuses on honest self-expression and empathy, and involves four elements: observations (as opposed to interpretations and evaluations), feelings (emotions that are distinct or separate from our thoughts), needs (our underlying or deep motives) and requests (clear, present, doable, and without demand)
The goal is to create a situation in which everyone's needs are understood. The assumption is that, from this state of mutual understanding, new strategies will flow that meet some needs of everyone involved. A key principle is to express oneself without use of criticisms or judgments - good or bad, right or wrong.
For example, you could say: When I see your beer cans scattered all over my yard, I feel angry/upset/irritated/disrespected because I value personal space and cleanliness. Would you be willing to make sure they go in the trash?
In other words, you are telling someone, “When I see…I feel…because I need/value…. Would you…?”
Pretty cool, isn’t it? There are resources on campus to help you learn these skills if you are interested. For more information, please contact the Campus-Community Coalition at 509-963-3240 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list of Needs and Feelings, check this out.