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.

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. Most sections in the tool include 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 some 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. You’ll know what I mean by that when (by using this tool) you figure out the needs that are really driving what’s going on it you, and you feel your whole body relax into that knowing.

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.


  • 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 – no-one else will see it, as it’s not stored anywhere, nor is it sent to anyone except you.

    What happened?

    Have a really good whinge! Write down all your 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. (Click here for more info).

    What are you feeling?


    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.

    Feelings when your needs are met

    Below, there are two lists - the first is to help you notice any "positive" feelings you were having - 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, testing each word against your internal experience to sense into whether that word fits for what's going on in you. Try to find the words that fit best for you.

    Click on ALL the feelings that are up for you in regard to this situation. Make sure you read all the way through the lists, not just stopping when you find the first feeling that fits. We want to uncover all of them. It's the ones that surprise us that hold all the power. (Click here for more info)

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


    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.

    What are you needing?

    As we did with feelings, above, 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.

    Needs that ARE/were met

    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.

    Layers of needs

    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 a 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?"

    Get to know the need(s)

    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. 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?" If so, you can do that in a separate page here (opens in new window - when you've finished that, closing that page will bring you back here.)

    More info: why do we bother making guesses about the other person?

    Do I want to talk to the other person about this?

    If so, what might I like to say? There some suggestions here about how to do that.

    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)