5 Step Guide to Creating Productive  Conversations

If you are wanting to talk with a loved one about something that may be difficult for you or for them then this is a great guide to help you do just that! Take between 5-15 minutes to follow the steps and you’ll have a clear way to state what you see, feel, need and request to happen.

  • What was observed? Write down the behavior you observed from the person you would like to talk to. Instead of making a judgement on what was observed, only write up what you could say a video camera would have been able to record. Remain as neutral as possible. So, instead of saying this “You always leave your socks on the floor.” say this ” You said you’d put your socks in the hamper and they are on the floor.”
  • What feelings came up for you? You will find a list of feelings available to you in the Guide below. One thing to understand is that feelings come from thoughts that we have about what we observe. Take note of the thought you.
  • The root of the thought and feelings you have experienced from your observation is the need you have, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled. You will find a list of needs available to you in the Guide found below. Select the feelings that you felt during this observation.
  • What request can you ask for that will help to fulfill the need(s) you have expressed? Making a request will help the other person understand how to fulfill your needs. Having multiple options for requests is a good idea to have so that you have another option if the other person says they can’t fulfill that request.

5 Step Guide to Creating Productive  Conversations

Further preparation:

  •  You might ask if the other person has the time or space to listen and talk things through. It might go something like this, ” Do you have space to listen and chat with me for about 10 minutes?”Here’s an example of how you might begin: “I observed (your observation). I feel (your feelings) because I need (your needs). How would it be for you to (add in your request) 
  • The Feelings, and Needs list along with these 5 steps can be found in the Guide below. I have found having a guide to help me with my conversation made a big difference when I was first starting to change how I brought up tough topics. Download your guide below:


Rosenberg, Marshall. Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Love. PuddlerDancer Press, 2015.

van Dijk, Marianne.  unknown. Cup of Empathy. June 2020, https://cupofempathy.com/

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