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Enhancing feedback with Non-Violent communication

By: Edo Begagić

Feedback is an essential aspect of UX/UI design and web development. It helps us shape projects and partnerships. By integrating Non-Violent Communication (NVC) into our workflow, we can transform our feedback into a constructive and collaborative process, where we cultivate a deeper understanding of each other and take part in mutual growth.

What is Non-Violent Communication (NVC)

Non-Violent Communication is a method for engaging in empathetic interactions to enhance mutual understanding and promote positive change in our personal and professional lives. It was developed by psychiatrist Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s and is based on understanding each other's needs while encouraging the avoidance of judgment, criticism, or demands.

Let's take a look at some examples. Did you ever talk like this:

  • “You are always late to meetings, and it disrupts our schedule.”
  • “You've missed the last two project deadlines, which is unacceptable. We can't keep disappointing our clients like this. You need to get serious and start meeting your deadlines.”
  • “You don't respond to team emails for days, and it's causing problems. Everyone else manages to keep up with their emails. You need to start responding more promptly.”
  • “Our meetings are a waste of time because we never make any decisions. You all need to come better prepared so we can actually get something done instead of just talking in circles.”

None of these are considered non-violent communication. All of them contain judgments, criticisms, or demands. A logical follow-up question for some is: “But then, how to give feedback at all? If I can’t even tell the other person what’s wrong and how to change it?”. Before dismissing NVC as a way of introducing over-politeness into the workplace, consider another key aspect - it is more precise, logical, and efficient than the communication styles provided in the previous examples. But first, let's take a brief overview of how NVC actually works. It consists of four components which are implemented in the following order: Observation, Feelings, Needs, Request.


This initial stage involves observing a situation. It's important to observe as objectively as possible. We must be careful not to evaluate, but only to observe. For example, “You are terrible at selling our products” is an evaluation of someone's ability to sell our products. An observation is clearer and more precise, for example, “You have not sold any products for the last 2 months.” Here are some more examples:

✘ How not to do it:

  • “He frequently misses our daily meetings.” (Not specific. It’s evaluating instead of observing.)
  • “She is not very polite.” (Evaluating her “politeness”.)
  • “They don’t take care about their website.” (Evaluating and not specific.)

✔ How to do it:
  • “He misses our daily meetings at least twice a week.” (Observing that the person is missing the meetings at least twice a week.)
  • “She doesn’t greet me when I arrive.” (Describing something specific.)
  • “I have not seen them correcting the spelling errors on their website.”

Trying to be as objective and specific as possible is the best way to approach observation.


After observing, you will continue by verbalizing how a specific situation makes you feel. Feelings are sometimes unpredictable, but they are an essential aspect of maintaining a fulfilled and efficient work environment. In this step, it is important to be precise and not to confuse feelings with non-feelings. For example: “I feel I paid too much for this product.” The words “I feel” can be accurately replaced with “I think” - “I think I paid too much for this product.” It's necessary to distinguish feelings from thoughts.

✘ How not to do it:

  • "I feel incompetent as a team leader." (This is a description of what we think we are - We are evaluating our team-leading abilities.)
  • "I feel ignored by the people with whom I work." (The word ignored describes how I think others are evaluating me, rather than how I’m feeling.)

✔ How to do it:

  • "I feel disappointed in myself as a team leader." (This is expressing the feeling behind the evaluation of being “incompetent” as a team leader. Besides disappointed, we could also maybe feel impatient, frustrated, or some other emotion.)
  • "I feel sad because I think people I work with are ignoring me." (This is expressing the feeling behind experiencing being “ignored”.)

To maintain an efficient conversation, try to be as specific with your feelings as possible. For a comprehensive list of feelings vs non-feelings, you can take a look at this guide: Feelings vs Non-Feelings.


After we successfully express our feelings, we proceed with identifying and expressing our unmet needs in the form of an “I” statement. This way, we take responsibility for our emotions and don’t try to blame others for what we are feeling. When we express our needs instead of judging someone, we have a better chance of having them met. It is also necessary to connect our need with the emotion that is triggered while the need is not being met. Let’s review the following examples:

✘ How not to do it:
  • “You disappointed me when you didn’t come to the meeting today.” (Attributing disappointment solely to another person's actions.)
  • “You irritate me when you don’t clean up our shared drive.”
  • “I feel disappointed because you said you would wrap up the project and you didn’t.”

✔ How to do it:
  • “I was disappointed when you didn’t come to the meeting today because I wanted to talk over some things that were bothering me.” (Tracing the feeling of disappointment to my unfulfilled need - the need to talk over some things that were bothering me.)
  • “I feel irritated when I see that our shared drive is not in order.”
  • “I felt disappointed when you said you would wrap up the project and didn’t, because I want to be able to rely upon your words.”


After being able to implement the first three components of NVC without criticizing or analyzing others, the final component is making a clear and specific request. It is essential to use positive language when making requests and formulating them with a concrete action in mind. Here are some examples:

✘ How not to do it:
  • “I’d like you to attend meetings more often.” (More often is not a specific request.)
  • "I want you to show respect for my personal time.” (A very broad request. What does personal time mean?)

✔ How to do it:
  • “I want you to attend meetings at least 3 times a week.” (Specific, with a clearly defined action)
  • “I want you to call me only during our work hours.”

Feedbacks with NVC

After understanding all four components of NVC it is possible to utilize them in order to form full feedbacks and work towards a more colaborative and creative environment. Let's review:

  • "I've noticed that you've arrived late to the last three meetings (Observation). I feel concerned (Feeling) because I have the need for reliability in our schedule in order to manage my tasks effectively and ensure our project progresses smoothly (Need). Would you be able to commit to arriving on time for future meetings? (Request)." - Feedback on Punctuality

  • "I've noticed that the last two project deadlines weren't met (Observation). I feel anxious (Feeling) because I need to ensure timely delivery to our clients to maintain our reputation and meet our contractual obligations (Need). Could we discuss strategies to meet our deadlines more reliably in the future? (Request)" - Feedback on Missed Deadline

  • "I've observed that it's been a few days before you respond to team emails (Observation). This makes me feel isolated (Feeling) because consistent communication is essential for me to feel connected and informed about our project's progress (Need). Would you be able to prioritize checking and responding to team emails at least once a day? (Request)" - Feedback on Communication

  • "I've noticed that the last few submissions have had more errors than usual (Observation). I'm feeling concerned (Feeling) because I rely on the accuracy of this work to ensure our final product meets our quality standards (Need). Could we review the quality control process together to see how we can improve? (Request)" - Feedback on Quality of Work

  • "I've seen that our last few meetings have ended without clear decisions being made (Observation). I feel frustrated (Feeling) because effective collaboration and clear decision-making are crucial for me to progress with my tasks efficiently (Need). Could we agree on a structured agenda for our meetings to improve our decision-making process? (Request)" - Feedback on Collaboration

  • I've noticed that the team has been overusing resources on recent projects, specifically Project X and Project Y (Observation). This makes me feel concerned (Feeling) because managing our resources efficiently is necessary to stay within budget and complete our projects successfully (Need). Can we discuss ways to monitor and manage our resource use more effectively? (Request)" - Feedback on Use of Resources

Challenges in implementing NVC

Implementing NVC is a journey that requires practice, self-reflection, and a significant shift in mindset. One of the most empowering aspects of NVC is its application on a personal level, regardless of the other party's familiarity with or adherence to NVC principles.

The initial challenge lies in moving beyond habitual ways of communicating and perceiving interactions. It involves cultivating a deep understanding of NVC's principles and consistently applying them in all forms of communication. This requires patience, dedication, and a commitment to embodying empathy and compassion in every interaction.


Adopting a more nuanced approach to feedback, rooted in the principles of NVC, supports a culture of empathy and succesfull collaboration in the creative process. This method not only improves project outcomes but also strengthens team dynamics and client relationships by making every interaction an opportunity for growth and understanding. Furthermore, it enables us to get to know each other in a more honest and authentic way.

Thanks for reading. Do you have questions or suggestions? Feel free to send me an e-mail on or connect via Linkedin.


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