The Best Way to Approach Someone with a Problem is…

How many times have you had a problem with someone and wondered what to do next?

Many come to coaching with this issue. They have a conflict with someone and want to find a way to resolve it.  Once we coach them past approaching them in the first place – it’s generally best to go directly to the source of the problem! – we usually talk about my favorite method with the acronyms, OFNR, developed by Marshall Rosenberg of Non-Violent Communication.

You may have heard that in conflicts we will want to focus on ourselves, saying how *I* feel instead of pointing fingers with *you*.  OFNR from Non-Violent Communication expands on that concept more fully to completing the ask.

In structuring your ask, you would use the steps of OFNR, which stands for:

O = Observation – Take a meta view of the situation between you and the other person and describe without bias nor judgement.

F = Feelings – What are your feelings about it? 

N = Needs – What do you need in this situation?

R = Request – What are you asking from the other person?

Sounds simple? It kind of is and it kind of isn’t.

The undesirable ask takes what seems like OFNR into unproductive territory.

Observations become Judgements – “I see you being lazy in not wanting to clean the room”

Feelings become “Faux” Feelings – “I feel you should be helping to clean the room”

Needs become “Strategies”- “I need you to be a clean person”

Requests become Demands – “You must clean this room right now”

And so on. 

Often styles of communication become part of our psyche and are hard to change.  We also have triggers which prevent us from communicating in an empathic and respectful way. All of these elements are coachable to more productive styles of communication and I have seen some amazing change happen in my clients when we deploy OFNR alongside resolution of triggers and beliefs that no longer serve them.

Using OFNR and Non Violent Communication concepts is one way to improve your communication, especially when in a situation of having an issue with another person, and doing it in a way that is respectful and build relationship rather than having the opposite effect.

Find out more about Non Violent Communication and OFNR here at

Highly recommend reading Marshall Rosenberg’s book, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships

Got a tough conflict you’re having? Give OFNR a go and see what happens! And if you’re finding it difficult to phrase your OFNR, comment below and let’s see what we can come up with for you.

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