How We Are Learning to Communicate in a Compassionate Way

Posted by on Sep 27, 2012 in Recent Posts | 2 comments

How We Are Learning to Communicate in a Compassionate Way

Living in a tiny house forces me to be very clear about wants vs. needs. I’ve thought a lot about what we really need. Most things are obvious: If you ask Archer, he’ll tell you what he learned in 1st grade: humans need food, shelter and water. The tiny house and garden cover those needs.  But not having extra room helps me to strip away my wants and more clearly see my needs. Here’s my brainstorm from my journal:

I need:

There’s a wonderful list of universal human needs in Marshall Rosenburg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life.

Karl and I have been working with this book and are learning to better meet each other’s needs through Nonviolent Communication (NVC). When I’m asked, “What’s the hardest thing about living in a tiny house?”, I have a hard time answering, because the hard things end up pushing us to grow in the best ways. Shrinking our living space has put our communication under a microscope (microphone, too!) which has brought us to this practice, born out of our need for peace. We are getting better at compassionate communication, and though we certainly have our short comings, Marshall Rosenburg’s book is helping us grow.

No matter the size of your house or the lifestyle you live, this process of communication will help you “create your life, relationships, and your world in harmony with your values,” as the cover of the book suggests.

The NVC Process:

1) The concrete actions we are observing that are affecting our well-being.

  • “When I (see, hear). . . “

2) How we feel in relation to what we are observing.

  • “I feel. . . “

3) The needs, values, desires, etc. that are creating our feelings.

  • “because I need/value. . .”

4) The concrete actions we request in order to enrich our lives.

  • “Would you be willing to. . .?”
This simple process will take me a lifetime to master, if I ever do, but it is helping me to understand my feelings and needs as well as empathize better with my family.


I highly recommend Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life and the process of Nonviolent (Compassionate) Communication.
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  1. I adore your posts Hari. Always remind me to try harder. We are buckets of homemade laundry soap in and only 11$ out for it. We are on our way to purging the FL house and being able to breath a bit easier. Not the same as a tiny house but a slimmed down life style none the less. Love your way.

    • 🙂 I love how you read my posts and leave me such supportive comments, my friend. We all approach the “slimmed down life style” in our own way. I am glad you are finding yours! So much love, Hari