In Frankly Friday

People often label me as the “anti-college” guy.

It’s true, I didn’t stay there long because I didn’t see how it would help me to get where I personally wanted to go.

But I’m going to tell you something I’ve never really told anyone…

I would gladly pay $100,000 for one lesson I learned from psychology 101 before I quit…

This one principle has hands down been the most helpful tool in my career as a consultant, problem-solver, and leader.

It has also made me a better husband, dad, and friend.

I literally owe millions of dollars to this one, simple lesson.

It’s called the Rosenberg 4 Steps to Nonviolent Communication – a road map for getting on the same page with virtually any human being.

  • It can dissolve the most violent of arguments in a matter of seconds.
  • It can ignite teamwork and productivity for even the most diverse groups of people.
  • And it is the secret to being heard, even when you are “nobody” in the room.

I’m always dumbfounded that more people don’t know about it, and it occurred to me that it might be helpful for you.


Here’s the rundown:

Humans get disoriented when they feel attacked, or challenged.

The goal in any situation where conflicts arise should be to detach emotions as quickly as possible and engage the logical brain to reach a conclusion that is clear. The goal is for both sides to be able to express themselves accurately without the baggage of past trauma, hurt, and insecurities.

The four steps go in order like this:

  1. Observations – focus on the problem, not the person.
  2. Feelings – validate feelings for all involved.
  3. Needs – acknowledge needs for all involved.
  4. Requests – make clear, actionable requests for next steps.

Have you found yourself at odds with someone lately?

Are you reluctant to have a tough conversation?

Do you need to disarm a hothead?

This will work like magic.

The following process is an expansion I’ve developed over the years using 4 Steps to Nonviolent communication. Use these phrases to shape your conversations, and be amazed at the progress you make:

Observation: I see

  • I’ve noticed that _____
  • I’m picking up on ______
  • I sense ______
  • I’m feeling a sense of ______
  • It’s obvious that______ is happening
  • There is a problem that has come to my attention
  • In hindsight I realized
  • I’ve been thinking about how that last conversation went

Statement of Feelings: I feel

  •  That is causing me to feel____
  • I can’t help but feel ____
  • That makes me feel_____
  • That is causing (insert emotion like anxiety, sadness, grief, uncertainty, etc.) because _____
  • I wonder if_____
  • This makes me wonder if ____
  • This leads me to believe _____
  • This _____ me (insert emotion verb
  • I’m hoping that didn’t make you feel_____

Expression of Desires: I need

  • It would really help me / us all if _____
  • I can’t go on without _____
  • I/we are really missing____
  • To be honest, I just need ______
  • I’ve been needing more _____ for a long time
  • For me to feel okay, I need_____
  • I think for this relationship to work, _______ is going to have to happen

Ask For Commitment: Would you?

  • Is it too much to ask you to ______?
  • Will you please ______?
  • I really want to be clear and ask that you _____.
  • Please know that I need you to _____, or ______ is going to happen.
  • Do you have ideas about how we could solve this?
  • What would you do if you were me?
  • How would you handle this?
  • Where would you like to go from here?

You can and should also flip these steps around and LISTEN with non-violent communication by asking (often a great idea to do this first):

Their Observation:

  • What are you seeing?
  • I know you have been seeing…
  • I know you have noticed
  • It seems like you’ve been paying attention to
  • Have you been noticing______?

Their Feelings:

  • I know that must make you feel
  • I know you must feel like
  • I can tell you’re feeling
  • I’m sensing that this might make you wonder _____

Their Needs:

  • I think it’s awesome that you are fighting for______
  • I want to ________ just like you do
  • I know you need ________
  • I know you are needing me to ______
  • I want to help you ______

State your Commitment: I will

  • I would like to commit to ______
  • I would like to help by ______
  • You can count on me to _______
  • Please know that I will be_______

Pro tip: this only works if you are extremely sincere about HOW you listen. Don’t just wait your turn to talk.

When things get off the rails, pause and calmly go back to the format… good things will happen.

Cheers to all of the progress you’re about to make!


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