Finding peace, clarity and win-win

Process anything that’s going on for you, whether it’s purely within yourself, or something that’s happening between you and other people. (Click on the headers to open or close each section.)

What is this?

This tool is based on the 4 step process of nonviolent (aka authentic or compassionate) communication (NVC) – Observation, Feelings, Needs, Request (OFNR). You don’t need to know NVC to use it though. Each section has links to additional information that you may like to read as you go.

Before you start …

If you’ve come to use this tool, you’re most likely wanting resolution to some situation. There’s probably a lot you think you want right now – fixing, answers, change etc – and I guarantee you that 99% of the time what you’re really needing FIRST is self connection. Using this tool will help you figure out the deepest longings of your heart that are really driving what’s going on it you, and you may notice your whole body relax into that knowing. And once you have that self connection and clarity, how to move forward becomes much clearer.

So slow down, and take the time to really feel into these questions. Finding that self-connection will move you into a whole different space, where you are more resilient, more creative, more able to move forward.

Marshall Rosenberg, creator of NVC, loved to say that when we uncover the needs, the solutions find us.

Choose a specific incident to work on

  • If you can, choose a specific incident to work on, rather than a general idea. For example, instead of “My mother annoys me”, find a specific moment in which she annoyed you, like “I rang my mother and she talked for 2 hours without once asking about me”.
  • Filling in each field in the tool below will help, but all are optional.
  • Click on each of the headers to open the “accordion”. Close it again to see a summary of your selections.
  • You can email it to yourself at the end – it is completely private – no-one else will see it, as it’s not stored anywhere, nor is it sent to anyone except you.

    Observation vs Evaluation - What happened that affected me?

    What happened? (Optional)

    What's up? This is a space to just let it all out. Have a really good whinge! This may include judgements of yourself, and of the other person (if any). Be as mean as you like! Get mad! Let it all out. (In NVC, we call that "jackal talk" ... let the jackals run wild for a moment!)

    The "observation"

    Can you extract from that JUST what actually happened, as a camera would see it, without assumptions or blame? It may help to phrase is as "When I saw, heard or remembered ... " The intention is to come up with a statement of what happened which contains no judgement or blame, so it's most likely that the other person would easily agree that this is what happened and won't get defensive. (Click here for more info).

    Feelings - What is my body telling me is going on in me?

    Sensations (Optional)

    Start by noticing what's going on in your body, in relation to this situation. Exploring the actual physical sensations that are present will help you sense what you're actually feeling, as opposed to the thoughts you're having about what you're feeling. It's really hard for some of us to notice what we feel! (list adapted from here)

    Any others? I like to notice things like "frowny face", "tight fists", "tight jaw", "restless legs", "shallow breathing like I'm hiding from someone and trying to stay really quiet", "pursed lips", "hunched shoulders", "droopy posture" etc.

    If you're struggling to find body sensations and/or the feelings they represent, you might like to explore this feelings & sensations wheel.

    Feelings when your needs are met (Optional)

    Below, there are two lists - the first is to help you notice any "positive" feelings you are or were having about this situation - we tend to miss those when we're upset!! Take the time to see if there's any positives here.

    Feelings when your needs are not met ...

    Now you get to dive into those less comfortable feelings. Again, make sure you go all the way to the end of the list, not just stopping when you find the first feeling that fits. Test each word against your internal experience to sense into whether that word fits for what's going on in you. We want to uncover all of the feelings that are in you (in relation to this issue). It's often the ones that surprise us that hold all the power. (Click here for more info)

    If you find it overwhelming to look at a list this long, you might want to just pick from these four: sad, glad, mad, scared.

    Couldn't find some of the feeling words you wanted? Perhaps they're on this list.

    Reflections (Optional)

    Take a moment now to reflect on the feelings you've just unpacked. Were any of them surprising? Also see if you can notice the very FIRST feeling(s) that arose. For example, I might be feeling angry, but then I notice that just prior to that, my very initial feeling was one of confusion. (The later feelings are more likely to be "thought feelings", which are the result of how we've automatically and habitually internally managed the initial feeling.)

    If you're new to the concept of needs, you may like to learn about the importance of understanding needs.

    Needs - What is your heart truly longing for?

    Needs that ARE/were met (Optional)

    Before we look for the UNMET needs, let's take the time first to notice the needs that ARE (or were) met for you in this situation - this might surprise you! The needs you choose here are likely to be associated with the "positive" feeling words you chose above.

    Subsistence and Security


    Connection / interdependence


    Needs that are/were NOT met

    Again, read all the way through the list to uncover ALL your needs that are relevant to this situation. The needs you come up with here are likely to be associated with the painful feeling words you chose above.

    If this long list is overwhelming, you may wish to simply choose from the 4 basic categories of needs: physical needs, freedom, connection, meaning.

    Subsistence and Security


    Connection / interdependence


    Layers of needs (Optional)

    With each of the needs you ticked above, if you say to yourself, "every cell in my body is longing for [need]", do tears come, or self-righteousness? If it's self-righteousness, there's probably deeper, more precious needs beneath that one. Try finding the deeper need by asking yourself, "If I had that [inital need], THEN what would I have?"

    Request - What do I want to do about the needs I've uncovered?

    Get to know the need(s) (Optional)

    Before we try to find an action to meet the need(s), it's important to "meet the need" as in "meeting a friend" - to get to know how it lives in us as a "living energy" within our bodies, a longing of the heart. This will help us start to recognise what strategies we could employ that would actually meet the need. Otherwise, the strategies we choose to meet that need may well be off the mark. Click here for more info.

    Choose one of the needs from above which speaks to you the loudest, in this moment. Then listen to the following audio with that need in mind.

    Meditation on the beauty of the need

    Did anything come up for you here?

    Brainstorm ways to top up your "needs tanks"

    If not having a particular need met evokes strong pain in you, then it's highly likely that that need has gone unmet for a long time - or as I like to say, that particular "needs tank" is low. It may be that the current situation wouldn't have evoked distress at all, if that needs tank wasn't already so low. Therefore, it's vital to find other ways to meet that need AS WELL, outside of the current situation. For the needs you've listed above, what might it take to top up any of those tanks, even just a little? If you have no idea, you might need to just sit with it for a few days, and let it percolate in the background.

    Making guess for the other person

    If your situation involves another person, ask yourself, "am I willing to go through these same steps for them, making guesses what might they be feeling, and what might they be needing?" Trust me, it's worth doing!! Click on the button below (opens in new window - when you've finished that, closing that page will bring you back here.)

    What would you like for the subject of the email (so that you can find it again!)

    (If you can't click on this, make sure you've checked the "Email me" box above)