Nonviolent Communication highlights three modes of communication: honest self-expression, empathic listening, and empathic self-connection.
NVC delineates four components of communication:
We are trained to make careful observations free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us. We learn to hear our own deeper needs and those of others, and to identify and clearly articulate what we are wanting in a given moment. When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, and needed, rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion. Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC fosters respect, attentiveness and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative.
The word "need" as used in Nonviolent Communication only approximately corresponds to the way most people use the word. In Nonviolent Communication, a Need is a something that our humanity calls us to seek, something universal. Each need is something we can all relate to, though a given need might be more intense for some people or at some times or certain situations.
It is important to distinguish between Needs and Strategies. If I want a fancy sports car, that's not a Need because it's not inherent that all human want a sports car. However, I might want a sports car as a Strategy for meeting a Need for excitement. Valuing excitement is a universal experience.
Shifting our attention from Strategies to Needs has the power to transform conflict because (1) the universality of needs means that all parties to the conflict can understand and appreciate what is at issue, and (2) the focus on needs introduces flexibility, since there are likely to be ways to meet the need one wouldn't have thought of if one clung to the idea that the strategy was what was important.
People typically respond to demands by either giving in but resenting it, or by rebelling. As a result, getting things done by making demands tends to be something that you will ultimately pay for through degraded relationships.
Nonviolent Communication recommends learning how to pursue meeting our needs by making Requests. You know that something is a Request if a response of "no" does not provoke retaliation. Nonviolent Communication offers ways to appreciate receiving a "no" and treat it as simply one step along the path towards meeting everyone's needs, including your own.
The above notes provide pointers to some of the key ideas of Nonviolent Communication. There are many additional ideas, and great depth to those already mentioned, which you can learn if you make a study of Nonviolent Communication.