Agreement and Understanding – Key Differentiations in NVC and IFS

Key differentiations are there to measure the level of integration of Nonviolent Communication into our life and therefore stay human in ever more stressful situations.

There is 25 key differentiations as defined by CNVC, a few more in “Cracking The Communication Code” by Liv Larsson, a few more defined by Miki Kashtan and her sister Inbal (

I would like to focus on the differentiation between AGREEMENT and UNDERSTANDING. It is an important distinction in IFS, we could say “a key differentiation” using NVC language.

Our culture relies on agreement not on understanding as Miki points out. Understanding is relinquished to the intellectual. This differentiation moves us one step closer to the understanding of complexity of life and holding paradoxes in our hearts.


In a standard conversation, there is little place to say “I hear you, I understand where you are coming from AND I do not agree”. It is assumed that if I say “yes” it is not “yes, I hear you” but “yes, I agree”.

It is assumed that I am unidimensional, and if I understand your point of view there is no place for another one. It’s black or white. It’s either or. People are afraid to say “yes” because it comes through as if they agreed. And if they agree they are expected to automatically give up the important thing they are standing for.

So, they fight and say NO! No, I do not agree! meaning “No! My needs do matter.”

I don’t know how about you, but that is surely the culture I grew up in.

The NO is about safety. The NO is about defending my needs. The NO is about wanting to be seen.


Moving to a place of trust, where I can hear you while trusting that my needs matter and can be recognized, is an emotional and cultural revolution.

IFS with the concept of the multiplicity of the mind graciously liberates us from unidimensional thinking up front. It helps us gain insight. We have multiple points of view within us. The crucial point in the internal conversation is to hear parts and grasp their point of view, understanding their line of logic and emotions, and once we do, letting them know they make sense. It gives them a sense of being seen. That is a step towards trust building. When there is trust, parts and people alike are ready to experiment new solutions or, as NVC would put it, new strategies to meet their needs, common needs.

Trust allows flexibility.