What is Violent Communication

The essence of violent communication are "judgments" and "demands." Feelings are usually suppressed, or come out as anger. Needs come out as "shoulds". Communication comes out like this:

You are a_______________
and you are making me feel (like) ___________ .
You need to (should, have to) ________________
and you better do_________________ or else!

The four blanks are filled in with judgments, "faux" feelings, shoulds and demands, defined as follows:


Observations with judgments (blame, comparisons, criticisms, diagnoses, insults, labels, put downs,): "You are ..."


Belief that the other party is either causing your feelings, or taking some action against you"and you are making me feel ..."


Belief that the other person needs to (has to, must, should, is obligated to,) be doing something: "You need to (have to, should, must, are obligated to, )..."


Demanding action using coercion (force, guilt, intimidation, obligation, punishment, shame, threats,):
"and you better... or else!..."

Why did you scatter all your toys all over the living room floor? You are making me feel angry. How many times do I have to tell you that you need to put your toys away before going out to play. You better come in and put your toys away or I am going to whip your butt when you come back.

Why aren't you in your seat? You are a goof-off and making me angry. You need to be taught a lesson. Go to the timeout room for the rest of the day.

You've already been talking too long at this workshop. You are making me feel very angry because you are so inconsiderate and you need to stop talking! Right Now! Shut up already!

(In a school orchestra where the conductor is checking the playing stand by stand.) That playing was atrocious. I'm sure you didn't even practice your violin once this week. You really infuriate me! You need to practice. You can put your instrument down. I won't torment you any further. (nb. This was once said to me at a school rehearsal. My reply was: "You mean, I won't torment you!" and then I started laughing as well as the students sitting nearby who overheard my remark.)

How come you didn't take out the trash! You don't really love me. If you really loved me, you would take out the trash like you should. Take it out now or I am filing for divorce.

Does this sound familiar? Want to try something new? Try Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

The Basic NVC Model

More examples of violent communication:

Blaming Ourselves
Blaming Others


Last updated 3 August 2006

Copyright © 2006 by Duen Hsi Yen, All rights reserved.

E-mail: yen@noogenesis.com