He had taken both technical and people skills training over the years that covered emotional intelligence, Stephen Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People(R),' and Keirsey Personality Temperaments, to name a few. Yet Kenn Mackenzie, director of a high tech company in Silicon Valley, still sought to find a practical way to apply skills like effective communication. He found that practical approach by attending a Nonviolent Communication course.

So you're not swinging punches at the office. Does that mean your communication is non-violent? Maybe… Nonviolent Communication (NVC), as developed by Marshall Rosenberg, Ph.D., echoes Stephen Covey's concept of creating a win-win and can be found in negotiation theories. It's about communicating with compassion. That includes both listening and talking to express your needs and wanting to understand the needs of others.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication says, "This approach to communication emphasizes compassion as the motivation for action rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat or justification for punishment. In other words, it is about getting what you want for reasons you will not regret later. NVC is NOT about getting people to do what we want. It is about creating a quality of connection that gets everyone’s needs met through compassionate giving" (http://www.cnvc.org).

It goes back to what we learned as children: give and take. Yet sometimes, especially when stakes are high, we forget this simple lesson. For example, you really wanted the big promotion but your boss gave it to the new guy. You’re steamed about it and glare at your boss during your next one-on-one. You hardly can breathe in his presence, let alone cut him a break.

That's why it's promising to know NVC is working its way through corporations. It's another tool in your kit, because when you're mad at your boss in most cases you still want to keep your job. NVC works during smooth sailing and turbulent waters alike.

In the following interview, Kenn Mackenzie explains what led him to engage in NVC training and how it has positively impacted him and his teams.

Q: What drew you toward getting trained in NVC?

A: I have a friend who's a psychologist and she introduced me to NVC as a means of enhancing communication. I decided to take a one-day training session with a certified trainer in the Bay Area, California. The trainer, John Kinyon, also has a passion for applying the model in the workplace. When I read the book and saw the model, I immediately saw the connection to some of the other training I've taken. But NVC is a much deeper dive into how to apply these ideas into day-to-day interactions.

Q: So the model has a practical way to apply it?

A: It gives a very specific detailed working model of what to do in every conversation or situation.

To give an example of these situations, the website says, "In NVC trainings you will learn to express yourself honestly without attacking. This will help minimize the likelihood of facing defensive reactions in others. The skills will help you make clear requests. They will help you receive critical and hostile messages without taking them personally, giving in, or losing self-esteem."

Q: What is at the core of NVC?

A: The essence of the model is creating a connection with other people based on trust. From that trust, you can begin to value a positive outcome for the other person and also get your own needs met… And if everyone is of a mindset of creating a win-win, then problems will solve themselves through productive dialog.

Q: What happens when people get locked into their own personal needs and won't budge? Let's say a person wants a 10% raise, for example, whether you can give it to them or not?

A: Using the NVC approach, the idea is to separate the strategy from the needs. It is important to have clarity around the needs first. For instance, is the need for financial security or for recognition? Once you know, then you can work on how to get it met, which is the strategy. People get attached to one strategy (like getting a raise) rather than figuring out many ways to meet their needs.

Q: I know you've sent your teams through the NVC training as well. What has the impact been for your staff?

A: My observation is that there is a lower level of soft skills in a high-tech environment dominated by engineers.

It's important that they know how to set up win-win interactions, seek understanding, and create synergy to come up with strategies that an individual could not come up with on his or her own. That's where NVC training comes in.

Q: What is possible if more people, in your company and beyond, get trained in NVC?

A: NVC can transform the energy of the work environment, from one-on-one and group meetings and even at the corporate level. At the corporate level, you can create better outcomes while meeting diverse stakeholder needs. It enables companies to have a model that allows people to bring up differences, to say and hear tough issues. It provides a way to address these issues in a productive way that maintains or enhances the relationships and connections among the people involved.

Is NVC right for you or your company? If you want a simple communication tool that adds depth and clarity to conversations, Mackenzie says it's worth adding to your toolkit.

Author's Bio: 

And if you want to read more f’ree work effectiveness articles from 'The [N]aked Desk' author, Sue Brenner, go to www.actionsymphony.com/articles.asp.