Communication Tools Roundup for OPEN-SF Conference

Hey folks!  I’m off to the OPEN-SF Conference tomorrow, so this week has seen me busy with information formatting and technology wrestling (new Olympic events for presenters ;^).  As supporting information for the discussion I’m leading on Sunday at 1:15pm, I decided to create a new version of my handout that covers three of my favorite communication tools:  Non-Violent Communication (NVC); Appreciations; and Chapman’s Five Love Languages. Limitations of WordPress mean that the formatting on the NVC section isn’t as good here as it is in the actual handout… which I suppose means y’all should come to the conference to get a hardcopy! 😉

If you’re a Bay Area (or possibly Northern CA) local, it’s not too late to join us at the conference.  At only $100 for the whole weekend, it’s one of the best conference deals I’ve seen.

I hope that you find the Communication Tools valuable, and I look forward to seeing some of you in SF starting tomorrow!

~♥ Dawn

PS:  As always, feel free to comment here, or in my Facebook, LoveOTB. 🙂

A Brief Summary of a Few Communication Tools


NVC — Non-Violent Communication / Compassionate Communication

Rosenberg, Marshall – Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion, PuddleDancer Press, 1999.

(as slightly modified by Dawn Davidson and Akien MacIain)


The “Heart” of NVC: 






In practice, this can look like:

(“Push” version)

“When you said/did ____________,”

I felt ________________________,”

Because I have a need for __________,”

(And my interpretation is _______”

And I request that you do/say _______.”


(“Pull” version)

“When I said/did_________________”

“I imagine you might have felt _______”

“Because you have a need for ________”

(“And I’m wondering if your interpretation might be______________________”)

“Is there something you would like for me to do/say?”


For more info on NVC: (main website); (Bay Area local website)



Taylor, Patricia Huntington – The Enchantment of Opposites: How to Create Great Relationships, Traveling Artists, 1997

“To receive more acknowledgement from your partner, give more acknowledgement to your partner.” (Enchantment of Opposites, p. 110)

Although I first learned this technique from Patti Taylor (above), there are many variations on the exercise and no one “right” way to do it.  I present my favorite format below.

Partners should sit facing each other, close enough to see each other’s faces clearly, possibly in yab yum position.  They can be touching or not, as feels comfortable to both parties. Partner A will deliver an acknowledgement to Partner B.

This acknowledgement should be:

  • specific in place and time
  • from the heart, genuine, moving to both parties
  • delivered with enthusiasm and appreciation
  • clear and detailed, but not so long that either party loses their focus

After each acknowledgement, Partner B will say, clearly and distinctly (you want this to keep happening, after all!) “Thank you.”  The only other response “allowed” in this game is for Partner B to ask for clarification if the acknowledgment was not specific enough in place and time, or there was some other unclarity.  “Do you have a specific frame for that?” is one way to ask that question.


I usually do these in three rounds of three (Partner A says three in a row, punctuated by “thank you,” and then Partner B says three in a row, etc.).  However, they can be done in any format you choose, such as one and one, five and five, each partner speaks for 3 minutes and then trade, etc.  In fact, they can be done in no “format” at all, randomly throughout the day whenever the mood strikes you (which Patti referred to as “guerilla appreciations” ;^).


The Five Love Languages

Chapman, Gary – The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, Northfield Publishing, 1992

According to Chapman, each person has one main way that they “hear” love from others. They often (but not always) express love to others through this same love language.  The five languages are (in no particular order):

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

When each partner knows their own love language, and learns to speak the love language of their partner, it becomes much easier for each partner’s “Love Tank” to remain full. This allows them to hear the love being expressed, and usually reduces jealousy, since it’s much easier to be generous and compersive (being happy for our partner’s happiness, in other words) when our love tanks are full.

For more information:


And remember, if you want to discuss these tools, practice using them, or get assistance with any other issues related to polyamory/open relationships with someone who’s been doing this stuff for a while, then feel free to contact me to set up a time for a free intro session!


©2012, Dawn M. Davidson

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