Observe without Evaluating
CNV's first step is Observation. But it is important to note that here we have to separate observations from our assessments.
This happens because when we express an observation with evaluation, people tend to feel judged and criticized.
Observations are an important part of this process because we want to be able to express clearly and honestly how we really are. However, by combining our observations with assessments, we make people pay more attention to our judgments than to the content we really want to convey.
This by no means means that we should refrain from evaluating. It means that we have to learn to separate our observations from our assessments.
Distinguishing observations from evaluations
Here is a comparative table that helps us understand how to separate our observations from the evaluations taken from Marshall Rosenberg's book.
|Communication||Observation with evaluation||Separate assessment note|
|Use the verb to be without indicating that the person who assesses accepts responsibility for the assessment.||You are too generous.||When I see you give all your lunch money to others, I think you're being too generous.|
|Use evaluative connotation verbs.||João keeps putting things off for later.||João only studies on the eve of the exams.|
|Imply that one person's inferences about another person's thoughts, feelings, intentions or desires are the only possible ones.||Her work will not be accepted.||I think her work will not be accepted. Or: She said that her work would not be accepted.|
|Confusing prediction with certainty.||If you don't eat balanced meals, your health will be impaired.||If you do not eat balanced meals, I fear that your health will be impaired.|
|Do not be specific about the people you refer to.||Foreigners do not take care of their own home.||I didn't see that foreign family from the other street cleaning the sidewalk.|
|Use words that denote skill without indicating that an assessment is being made.||Zequinha is a terrible football player.||In twenty matches, Zequinha did not score any goals.|
|Use adverbs and adjectives in ways that do not indicate that an assessment is being made.||Carlos is ugly.||Carlos's appearance doesn't appeal to me.|
To practice a little, I took some exercises from Rosenberg's book to see when a sentence implies observation or evaluation. The idea is to try to classify the following phrases:
1. Yesterday, John was angry with me for no reason.
2. Last night, Lúcia bit her nails while watching TV.
3. Marcelo did not ask for my opinion during the meeting.
4. My Father is a good man.
5. Maria works too hard.
6. Luís is aggressive.
7. Cláudia was the first in line every day this week.
8. My son often fails to brush his teeth.
9. Antônio told me that I don't look good in yellow.
10. My aunt complains about something every time I talk to her.
1. “For no reason” is an assessment.
4. “Good man” is an assessment.
5. “Too much” is an assessment.
6. “aggressive” is an assessment.
8. “Often” is an assessment.
10. “complains” is an assessment.