How to communicate peacefully during pregnancy

In one of my earlier posts, “How I manage not to be an emotional wreck during pregnancy”, I talked about Non-Violent Communication (NVC) as a tool I use during my pregnancy to express my needs clearly to others and spare them any sudden and unexplained outbursts of emotions or frustration.

I have been pretty good throughout my pregnancy in terms of surfing the emotional roller coaster but I honestly think, it is because I have a fairly high level of self-awareness through the training and personal development work I have done in the past few years. This means I can recognise more easily what emotion I am going through, what to do with it and what I need to come back to a state of calmness and balance.

It hasn’t always been that way though. In the past, when I was fed up or had difficult relationships with certain people, I would automatically assume they were the ones that needed to change. I would get frustrated and angry. It took me years to realise that it actually works the other way around. By looking within myself and improving my own communication skills, I was able to change the dynamic of my relationships and restore harmony in my interactions.

For that, I must thank Marshall Rosenberg who created this beautiful communication tool called Non-Violent Communication (NVC), a tool that I was introduced to by my dad who has been using it himself for years to improve his quality of life.

I have found it particularly useful to practice during pregnancy, a time where emotions feel more raw, often lowering one’s level of patience and potentially affecting the quality of communication with one’s partner/husband, family members or close friends. Pregnancy can make us feel more sensitive than usual and lead us to express ourselves in a more direct and sharp way. It can create frustration or misunderstanding for our partner who doesn’t really know where the sudden unpleasant comment has come from and and what to do with it.

Managing emotions in pregnancy

NVC teaches us how to communicate peacefully with others. It enables us to take responsibility for our feelings and emotions, express them in a calm way so we can solve conflicts effectively and get our needs understood and respected. It is a simple and effective method that is respectful of the other person’s needs too.

NVC works by following a 4-step process:

1 – Observation

I observe what the situation is without blaming or criticising the other person.

“When I see/hear…”

2 – Feelings

I recognise my emotional state and express my feelings using “I”.

“I feel…”

3 – Needs

I express what I need or value

“What I would need right now/value…”

4 – Requests

I clearly request that which would enrich my life without demanding.

“Would you be willing to…?”

 

The process is the same for the other person. This communication style favours kindness and benevolence  over judgment and criticism. No more “you should”, “you must”, “you are”.

 

Let’s see how this works in practice with a couple of hypothetical situations.

First situation

My husband and I come home after a long day at work. I have only got a few weeks to go before birth and I feel particularly exhausted.  I see him crash into the sofa to relax in front of the TV. I immediately feel irritated.

Conversation WITHOUT the use of NVC:

“What are you doing? There are loads of things to get done: the washing, preparing dinner… If I never ask you, you never do anything. It’s always the same story”

And then I walk off and leave the room…

How’s that helping my situation? If I react this way, I am only lighting up a fire and starting a row, aren’t I?

Now let’s apply the principles of NVC

Conversation WITH the use of NVC:

Observation: “I have had a really long day at work”

Feeling: “I feel exhausted tonight”

Need: “I would need help to tidy up the house a bit and take the bin out”.

Request: “Would you mind giving me a hand please so we can then both sit down and relax for the rest of the evening?

Now, that sounds better and healthier, doesn’t it?

 


 

Second situation

My husband comes home late from work after a very difficult day and finds me lying on the sofa, 7 months pregnant, reading a magazine. Here is what he tells me.

Conversation WITHOUT the use of NVC:

“When are we having dinner tonight? You have been at home for a while, you could have started preparing it at least”

Passive aggressive… clearly that’s not going to go down well with me and we’ll probably start arguing.

If he approached the situation using the NVC process, the outcome would most probably be different.

Conversation WITH the use of NVC:

Observation: “Work has been particularly difficult today. It felt like it would never end ”

Feeling: “I feel really tired and hungry”

Need: “I would really like to eat fairly quickly so I can rest and have an early night”

Request: “Would you mind giving me a hand to prepare dinner”?

Now, I am much more inclined to feel empathy for him and help him out. The rest of the evening will probably be much more pleasant.

 

It takes a little while to adjust our communication styles but with awareness and discipline, it becomes second nature quite quickly. NVC can be used with anyone, at work or at home and it can have a huge positive impact on our relationships. A simple way to live in peace and harmony with others.


What do you think? Have you used NVC before? What do you do to keep your relationships balanced and respectful of each others’ needs?

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