Compassionate Communication in Relationships – Ways to put it into Practice

By Hannah Aslin – MAC

verified by Psychology Today

Violent Communication. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Violent Communication involves threatening, judging, dehumanizing, blaming, or coercing others in order to get our way in a situation. Within intimate relationships, violent communication can sneak in and turn into our go-to way of speaking to our partner, even unintentionally or without maliciousness.

Nonviolent Communication, also known as Compassionate Communication, according to Marshall Rosenberg, is “an ongoing reminder to keep our attention focused on a place where we are more likely to get what we are seeking”. Compassionate communication is extremely important in couples because it helps to enhance and strengthen the love relationship and takes us away from disconnecting and demanding and moves us toward compassion and understanding.

If you are wondering what you can do within your romantic relationship to improve your compassionate, nonviolent communication, below is a resource that might be a good place to start. This is an activity that you and your partner can try. Think of a situation that consistently causes tension or disagreement in your relationship, and then each of you take a turn practicing compassionate communication by following the steps provided in the resource below!

compassionate communication

Something that really coincides with this exercise is needs and values. Here is a resource for you and your partner to gain a deeper understanding of your own particular needs and values that you can explore and share with one another:

Some Basic Feelings We All Have

Feelings when needs are fulfilled:

  • Amazed
  • Comfortable
  • Confidentemotions
  • Eager
  • Energetic
  • Fulfilled
  • Glad
  • Hopeful
  • Inspired
  • Intrigued
  • Joyous
  • Moved
  • Optimistic
  • Proud
  • Relieved
  • Stimulated Surprised
  • Thankful
  • Touched
  • Trustful

Feelings when needs are not fulfilled:

  • Angry
  • Annoyed
  • Concerned
  • Confused
  • Disappointed
  • Discouraged
  • Distressed
  • Embarrassed
  • Frustrated
  • Helpless
  • Hopeless
  • Impatient
  • Irritated
  • Lonely
  • Nervous
  • Overwhelmed
  • Puzzled
  • Reluctant
  • Sad
  • Uncomfortable

Some Basic Needs We All Have:


Choosing dreams/goals/values

Choosing plans for fulfilling one’s dreams, goals, values

Physical Nurturing

Air, Food, Water, Shelter, Rest, Touch, Sexual Expression

Movement, Exercise, Protection from life-threatening forms of life (viruses, bacteria, insects, predatory animals)


Celebrating the creation of life and dreams fulfilled

Celebrating losses: loved ones, dreams, etc. (mourning)


Authenticity, Creativity, Meaning, Self-worth


Fun and laughter

Spiritual Connection

Beauty, Harmony, Inspiration, Order, Peace


Acceptance, Appreciation, Closeness, Community, Consideration, Contribution to the enrichment of life, Emotional Safety, Empathy

Journaling Exercise

An additional exercise that will help to practice and understand compassionate, nonviolent communication is a journaling activity. The point of the following activity is to increase our ability to express gratitude to our partner and do so through the use of compassionate communication. Here is the journaling activity that you can do individually and then share with your partner:

Think of something your partner has done which has affected your life in a way that you feel grateful for, OR, think of something your partner has done which you have complimented or might compliment them for. Express your gratitude or “praise” in NVC:

a. What did the person do?
b. How do you feel in relation to what he or she did?
c. Which needs of yours were met by this action?
d. How would you express this appreciation in your

own words including a connection request (i.e.ask for a reflection to ensure that the person heard the appreciation without any judgment, or to hear what it was like for this person to receive your appreciation to support full connection between you)?

(adapted from

With practice, hopefully compassionate, nonviolent communication is the new go-to form of communication in your intimate relationships!

Additional source:

Your Complete Nonviolent Communication Guide

See my reading recommendations


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