Non Violent Communication

1. Nonviolent Communication®

Nonviolent Communication® was developed in the sixties of the twentieth century by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg – a student of Carl Rogers. Rosenberg, born in 1934 in the USA and of Jewish religion, grew up in an inner-city Detroit neighborhood where he was confronted with various forms of violence, including race riots with deaths. This triggered his desire to explore what exactly happens when people behave violently, and conversely, what allows some people to stay compassionate and human under even the most trying circumstances (Rosenberg 2000, pp. xi-3). He chose to study clinical psychology and received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Wisconsin in 1961.

While studying the factors that affect our ability to stay compassionate, I was struck by the crucial role of language and our use of words’ (Rosenberg 2000, p. 2).

In the wake of these findings he developed an approach to communicating that enables people to connect with themselves and with others in a way that allows their natural compassion to flourish. He called his approach Nonviolent Communication®.

Nonviolent Communication® is based on the vision of a world in which everybody’s needs are taken into consideration and people give and take with joy. The primary goal of NVC® is to help people connect with themselves and others.

Nonviolent Communication® (shortened NVC®) is based on the assumption that…

  • Needs are the ‘motor’ of all human behavior, i.e. that all activities of people are attempts to meet needs.

  • All people have the same needs, e.g. autonomy, reliability, freedom, peace.

  • Violence (including verbal violence) is an expression of unmet needs.

  • Our feelings are signals whether needs are met or not.

  • All people have the potential (but in many cases not the knowledge and skills) to empathize with themselves and others.

(Richter-Kaupp, course notes, International Intensive Training with Marshall Rosenberg, August 2002, Switzerland)

For many people the NVC® communication model is easy to understand but difficult to put into action. It requires the following three core skills:

  1. Self-empathy: The ability to empathize with oneself.

  2. Sincerity: The ability to sincerely express oneself in a way that increases the willingness of the other person to listen and respond to what is said.

  3. Empathy: The ability to be present and empathize with the other person.

In order to facilitate these skills, the NVC® model suggests the following steps:

Needs are universal and enable people to connect with each other. They therefore play a central role in the NVC® model. Each and every person on earth – no matter what age, gender or cultural origin – at least at times wants to be heard, accepted, trusted, respected, to name just a few. Feelings act as a signaler, because they point us to those needs which are currently being met or unmet.

Learn more by watching this 12 Min. Video: Be CLEAR About What You WANT | Marshall Rosenberg