Inspire with nonviolent communication

Why so many organisations in metropolitan areas stay white? Yes, they do exist. Very often they recognise that their recruitment procedures have gaps. A change in mentality is required. Firstly, by reflecting on one's current approach; secondly by taking to heart recommendations on diversity, equity and inclusion.

It is often interesting to look at how internal communication takes place. How does contact with potential candidates occur? So, it's time to immerse yourself in nonviolent communication.

"Meeting the other without judgement. 

That is the core of nonviolent communication."

Recall an experience in which you felt really uncomfortable because of a less than successful approach to diversity in your workplace.

  • First describe as objectively as possible what happened.
  • Then write down what you felt and thought about these facts. Also write down your interpretation of the feelings and reaction of the other people involved.
  • Are the people involved still present in your company or organisation? Do you think you can talk to them about the incident? How would you best go about this so that it becomes a desirable and constructive conversation for everyone? If a direct conversation with those involved is not or no longer possible, how can you check your interpretation of the incident? Who could you speak to? What should you read? Listen to? View?
  • Have you gathered additional information and perspectives? Now try to formulate a nuanced opinion of the incident. What went wrong? What, if anything, was going well? Above all, note what you learn from the experience; what will you do differently in the future?

You can also apply the four steps of connecting communication to feedback on the selection process. Unsuccessful candidates are often not informed of the reason, or a standard reply is sent. This is a great learning opportunity for the candidate. Substantive feedback also strengthens inclusive employer branding. Prepare your feedback according to the steps of connecting communication:  

  • What happened during the selection process? 
  • What impression or feeling did this perception create in the selection committee?
  • What does the organisation need? Which important values apply?
  • What could help the candidate to do better next time?

Nonviolent communication in the workplace

Nonviolent communication was developed by the American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg. It is an effective and respectful way of communicating, based on equality and empathy. The aim is to create a connection with dialogue partner considering your and their needs. It is also an attitude: wanting to do things differently, opting for understanding and having the desire to achieve a win-win outcome. Applicants clearly know what to expect. They get motivated and inspired by the feedback they receive from the recruiter or contact person at the organisation. 

What does this mean for you as an HR professional? Everyone has their own experiences, personal judgements and opinions. Nonviolent communication makes you aware of your own negative patterns and promotes positive focal points. This is of great importance in the process of attracting, identifying and selecting the most qualified and available candidates.

Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

The four steps of nonviolent communication

Observation: what happened?

Just describe the facts, without judgement. Say what you observed, and not what you think or how you judge the situation.

Feeling: how did you feel?

What feeling does this observation evoke in you? People feel more connected when they can talk about their emotions.

Needs: what are your needs?

What needs play a role in the specific situation? What responsibility do you take? Formulating these needs is sometimes difficult and can vary greatly from one situation to another.

Requests: what could be of help to you?

What specific requests do you have for the person you're talking to? How do you see things being different for this person in the future? Formulate these requests in a positive way.

The advantage of these 4steps is that the conversation remains free of judgements, because you stick to facts. Moreover, by exploring the feelings and needs of your conversation partner, you are connecting.

How to connect with empathy

Empathy - the ability to identify with the feelings of another person - can lead to greater connection. Empathy, then, is the key to staying connected to yourself and others. You can only achieve an inclusive work culture if everyone feels comfortable expressing their opinions and showing emotion. Through empathy you show a deep interest in the thoughts and wellbeing of others, which brings about a sense of belonging. It is therefore not surprising that empathy is also seen as a core quality of good leadership.

Organisations enjoy many benefits when they focus on nonviolent communication to generate mutual interaction between all their people. Colleagues then discover different axes on which their feelings and thoughts connect, for example, shared family situations, age, previous education, place of residence, etc. This internal approach encourages organisations to establish sincere relationships with their employees, while maintaining a focus on involvement, recruitment, development and retention.

The beginner's mindset

An important asset for not judging too quickly is cultivating a 'beginner's mindset'. This mindset implies that you approach a situation as a beginner, no matter how much experience you have. The beginner's mindset is characterised by a passionate curiosity and an eagerness to learn. Don't think you know everything, nor that you understand why people say or do certain things. This mindset forces you to listen actively - i.e. to listen, ask questions and summarise what you have understood. Connecting is more effective when the other person feels understood.

4 tips for an inclusive beginner's mindset:

  • Ask questions, to learn more. Formulate your questions in an appropriate way, at an appropriate time. If people prefer not to answer, they should feel free to indicate that. Avoid repeating the same questions to the same people.
  • Listen carefully. By listening well, you establish a connection, avoid misunderstandings, and give your conversation partners the opportunity to tell their story.
  • Be curious. Explore multiple perspectives and listen to different voices. The individual, in his or her context, must always be the reference point for your thinking and approach.
  • Do not judge. Be careful not to draw any hasty conclusions. Learn to observe without judging.

New employees often get a mentor or buddy to guide them through the welcome process. As an HR professional you can also learn a lot from new employees, because they look at your organisation with fresh eyes. They offer new perspectives for meeting challenges.

Ask them how they experienced the various steps of the recruitment process, to find out what could be done differently. Ask open and honest questions and listen without judgment.

Getting rid of microaggressions

Does your organisation or company resolutely opt for connecting, non-violent communication, but nevertheless receives reports of undesirable behaviour that has manifested itself in microaggression or perhaps even vicious racism?

Microaggression is manifested in silent, often unintentional racist or sexist remarks based on a group characteristic, that can make a person feel inferior (e.g. references to colour or gender). It is important to note that the microaggressor is often a 'good-natured' person, someone from whom one would not expect a racist or sexist insult.

In her TED talk Eliminating Microaggressions: The Next Level of Inclusion, Tiffany Alvoid explains how destructive microaggressions can be in the workplace. She makes you aware about what role you can play and what you can do to prevent it. She strives with you to more inclusive and productive workplaces.

  •   Challenges
  •   nonviolent communication
  •   4 stepts of nonviolent communication
  •   Empathy
  •   Beginner's mindset
  •   Inclusion Revolution
  •   Getting rid of miroaggressions