Jimmy Springston

Ch. 2 Communication That Blocks Compassion  

Ch. 2  Communication that Blocks Compassion 

  • Certain ways of communicating alienate us from our natural state of compassion 


Moralistic Judgements 

  • One kind of life-alienating communication is the use of moralistic judgements that imply wrongness or badness on the part of people who don’t act in harmony with our values 
  • When we speak this language, we judge others and their behavior 
  • Our attention is focused on classifying, analyzing, and determining levels of wrongness rather than on what we and others need and are not getting 
  • It is my belief that all such analyses of other human beings are tragic expressions of our own values and needs 
  • They are tragic because when we express our values and needs in this form, we increase defensiveness and resistance among the very people whose very behaviors are of concern to us 
  • Or, if people do agree to act in harmony with our values, they will likely do so out of fear, guilt, or shame because they concur with our analysis of their wrongness 
  • We all pay dearly when people respond to our values and needs out of fear, guilt, or shame.  Sooner or later we will experience the consequences of diminished goodwill on the part of  those who comply with our values out of a sense of either external or internal coercion.  

  • It is important here not to confuse value judgements and moralistic judgements 
  • All of us make value judgements as to the qualities we value in life 
  • Value judgements reflect our beliefs of how life can best be served 
  • We make moralistic judgements of people and behaviors that fail to support our value judgements 
  • Had we been raised speaking a language that facilitated the expression of compassion, we would have learned to articulate our needs and values directly, rather than to insinuate wrongness when they have not been met 


Making Comparisons 

  • Another form of judgement is the use of comparisons 
  • In his book How to Make Yourself Miserable, Dan Greenburg suggests that if readers have a sincere desire to make life miserable for themselves, they might learn to compare themselves to other people 


Denial of Responsibility 

  • Another form of life-alienating communication is the denial of responsibility 
  • We are each responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions 
  • The use of the common term “have to,” illustrates how personal responsibility for our actions can be obscured in speech 
  • The phrase “you make me feel…” is another example of how language facilitates denial of personal responsibility for our own feelings and thoughts 
  • We can replace language that implies lack of choice with language that acknowledges choice 
  • We are dangerous when we are not conscious of our responsibility for how we behave think and feel 


Other Forms of Life-Alienating Communication 

  • Communicating our desires as demands is yet another form of language that blocks communication 
  • A demand explicitly or implicitly threatens listeners with blame or punishment 
  • Learning to differentiate demands from requests is an important part of NVC 
  • The concept that certain actions merit reward while others merit punishment is also associated with life-alienating communication.  This thinking is expressed in the word “deserve.” 
  • I believe it. Is in everyone’s interest that people change, not in order to avoid punishment, but because they see the change as benefiting themselves 



  • It is our nature to enjoy giving and receiving compassionately 
  • We have, however, learned many forms of life alienating communication that leads us to speak and behave in ways that injure others and ourselves 
  • Examples of life-alienating communication: Moralistic Judgements and Comparisons 
  • Life alienating communication also obscures our awareness that we are each responsible for our own thoughts, feelings, and actions 
  • Communicating our desires in the form of demands is yet another characteristic of language that blocks compassion