I’ve been living with Tovar, my favorite five-year-old, for a little over a year now. I’ve always liked kids a lot, so when I moved in I knew my plan was to interact with him a bunch, and I wanted it to go as well as possible. I didn’t have much experience handling situations where kids didn’t want to do what I wanted them to, and I wanted to be better at connecting with them overall, so I read the book on this subject that my friends recommended the most highly: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. I loved it, and as with NVC, the hardest time to remember all the advice was during an actual conflict with Tovar. The book came with helpful cheat sheets with the most important strategies for different categories of communication.
The cards really helped even more than I thought they would. Sometimes the strategies improved the situation a lot right away, and sometimes they didn’t, but having a mental list of things to try helped me feel a lot more in control, and THAT always helped quite a bit. The real secret about this book is that it’s definitely not just for communicating with kids. I use this stuff all the time on adults and kids both. And to be clear, I love it when people use the techniques on me! In particular, when I’m upset an easy and fun one to use is #3 from helping children deal with their feelings, give the child his wishes in fantasy (e.g. “I wish I could make that banana ripe for you right now!”). It cracks me up that this works as well as it does.
Here’s the deck:
Nonviolent Communication has a lot of ridiculously useful communication advice. Of course, the hardest time to remember communication advice is in the middle of a conflict. Eventually, after getting frustrated with myself for not being able to remember how to do what the book said in the moment, I got an idea! If the problem was about forgetting, perhaps SRS was the solution…
So I extracted all the material that seemed important and made an Anki deck. Reviewing the deck made me realize that successfully practicing Nonviolent Communication relied on understanding more of the subtleties than I had realized, so I ended up including a fair amount of detail. I also put all the exercises from the book in there, and the NVC half of all the sample conversations. I found that doing so made it easier for me to automatically mentally classify and translate statements. Evidence that memorizing these things was actually have an effect is that for a while I was having crazy NVC Tetris effect dreams.
My best NVC story is that I was on Caltrain once and there were some drunk guys fighting loudly about some sports thing, and I noticed that my visceral reaction to the situation had changed: in the past my impulse was to move away from angry drunk potentially violent people, but instead I felt drawn to them, and I intuited that the safest thing would be to go empathize with them and defuse the situation. My brain pattern matched the situation to the sample conversations in the book. Sure enough, it worked! I cornered one guy, calmed him down, and then when I was done with that the other guy came over to talk to me because he wanted to be heard too. I like to brag about this one, so feel free to ask for details if you see me in person and haven’t already heard my story :-).
Please email me with any questions that come up when you use it, and I’ll post my answers here.